Heat waves are rippling through the nation this summer. With record-breaking scorching temperatures burning through the country, it’s important to be smart about staying cool and avoiding heat stroke. Thinking of reaching for an ice cold beer in the summer heat? Think again. There are much better ways to beat the heat. Focus your diet and lifestyle on hydration to keep your internal heat down.
1. Stay hydrated. Drink water! It’s calorie-free and the perfect way to avoid serious dehydration. High temperatures cause our bodies to sweat in an attempt to cool down. When humidity is also high, sweat cannot evaporate, causing continuous sweat loss, without its cooling benefits. Because thirst is an early sign of dehydration, consume water even when you aren’t thirsty.
2. Eat fruits and vegetables. Grapes, melon, leafy greens, cucumbers, and summer squash are all fluid-rich choices. Not only do these foods hydrate, but they also provide electrolytes that have been lost through sweat. Replacing electrolytes prevents muscle cramps and swollen limbs.
3. Limit protein intake. Your body requires water to metabolize protein. Watch portion sizes. Opt for a vegetable salad with beans or lean meat instead of the 8 oz. rib eye!
4. Avoid alcohol, tea, and coffee. These act as diuretics, causing your body to lose water.
5. Avoid sugary and salty foods, even if they’re cold! Foods high in sugar and/or sodium can leach water from your body. Combat the Popsicle craving by keeping your favorite frozen fruit on hand.
6. Save exercise for air-conditioned gyms or hit the pool instead. Don’t suffer through a long workout in the midday heat. If you can’t get to a gym, try an early morning or evening workout. When participating in endurance or high-intensity exercise (for example running for an hour), staying hydrated requires both fluid and electrolyte replacement. If you must be outside in the high heat, try a slushie, a sports drink or natural coconut water before, during and after the exposure to the heat.