Knowing what foods to eat and what foods to avoid in a heatwave can help preserve good health by preventing dehydration, heat exhaustion and heat stroke. The best foods to eat during a heatwave are watery foods which help ensure you stay hydrated and supply important amounts of essential vitamins and dietary minerals to help meet your nutritional demands. The worst foods to eat during a heatwave are hot, spicy foods which increase discomfort and diuretic foods and beverages that encourage water loss and dehydration.
What is a heatwave? A heatwave is a short but indefinite period of abnormally hot weather that exposes people to dehydration, heat exhaustion and heat stroke. The most affected categories of people during a heatwave are the elderly, children and anyone working or spending plenty of time outdoors in high temperatures. Knowing what to do during a heatwave, especially what to eat and what not to eat, is the most important aspect of getting through the high temperatures safely.
What to do during a heatwave? During a heatwave, the most important thing is to stay hydrated by drinking plenty of water. Secondly, you have to consider spending less time outdoors in the heat and more time indoors where you can enjoy a cool environment and access to air conditioning to help keep your body temperature low. Thirdly, considering high temperatures make you sweat, it is important to consider taking a good multivitamin with both vitamins and dietary minerals to combat the loss of nutrients.
Lastly, if you spend time in the sun and the weather is particularly hot, remember to wear sunscreen or sun lotion with a solar protection factor of at least 30. Also, keep in mind to reapply the sunscreen regularly to ensure adequate protection against sun radiation. Most important, know what the best time for sun exposure is and try to stay indoors when the sun is at its hottest to prevent sunburns, dehydration and insolation.
What should you eat?
In order to get over a heatwave safely, it is important to know how to nourish and hydrate yourself correctly and efficiently. Certain foods hydrate better than others, while some foods may cause you to lose water when you need it the most. Here are the top foods to eat during a heatwave:
1) Cucumbers: 96% water.
2) Watermelon: 91% water.
3) Radishes: 95% water.
4) Celery: 95% water.
5) Lettuce and tomatoes: 94% water.
6) Spinach: 91% water.
7) Carrots: 88% water.
What to drink during a heatwave?
1) Still water, whenever you feel thirsty or start getting dry lips, mouth and throat.
2) Carbonated water. A good carbonated water combats dehydration thanks to its content of electrolytes.
3) Sports drinks are ideal as they contain electrolytes, minerals and vitamins.
4) Fruit juices, preferably made at home so they don’t have added sugars.
To consider. Some people report cucumbers cause acidity. Celery is a common allergen, so if you have known food allergies, it might be best to have a skin prick test before eating celery. Tomatoes too can cause a form of allergy known as mouth allergy, and spinach should be cooked because it contains oxalic acid. Other than this, these are really the most accessible 7 best foods to eat during a heatwave.
Good and bad foods in a heatwave: During a heatwave, the most important thing is to be hydrated and this can easily be done by drinking water, sports drinks and fruit juices and eating fresh fruits and vegetables. The advantage is they also provide vitamins and minerals to further help us get over the heatwave (except water). Virtually any fruit or vegetable is good in a heatwave (so don’t limit yourselves to this list), as long as it doesn’t interact with a known condition.
For example, fruit juices and citrus fruit are bad for acid reflux and gastritis in particular, while spinach may be problematic if you eat a lot of it raw and have kidney problems or a calcium deficiency (the oxalic acid it contains may accentuate these conditions). So consider your medical conditions when choosing what foods to eat during a heatwave.
Hot weather and spoilt food: Hot weather makes it easier for food to go bad and become a source of infection, encouraging the growth of bacteria or molds. Children in particular are more likely to get sick from fruits or vegetables gone bad. Since in the summer, when the weather is hot or during a heatwave we don’t really have much of an appetite and crave mostly watery fruits and vegetables, we need to be careful they are not overripe or spoilt.
What are the worst foods and beverages during a heatwave?
The top foods to avoid during a heatwave are problematic foods with diuretic properties and foods that tend to raise the body temperature and stimulate blood flow excessively such as:
1) Coffee, caffeinated beverages and alcohol. Coffee and caffeinated beverages simply do not contribute as much to keeping us hydrated as sports drinks or water. Because caffeine stimulates diuresis and bowel movements, coffee actually dehydrates and the more you drink, the more dehydrated you get, making it something to avoid in a heatwave. Alcohol is to be avoided, especially in hot weather.
2) Tea. While a warm tea can help cool you down by making you sweat, some herbal infusions are actually strong natural diuretics. As a result, drinking too much of certain teas during a heatwave can be bad for you because it can cause dehydration. Some of the strongest diuretic and dehydrating herbs include: hawthorn, dandelion, stinging nettle, fennel, senna leaves, ginger and especially Camellia sinensis leaves from which green tea, black tea and white tea are made.
3) Fizzy drinks or sodas. These types of beverages are rich in sugar and sugar dehydrates which is why it is advisable to avoid drinking sodas during a heatwave. Even more, because they are rich in sugar, they make saliva thick and sticky and encourage allergens to stick to the throat, worsening pollen allergies and putting sufferers at risk for asthma attacks or laryngospasms.
4) Diuretic herbs, fruits and vegetables. Many fruits and vegetables have diuretic properties which is good if you are looking to prevent water retention, but bad because they dehydrate. If you eat significant amounts, then the following foods might not be the best idea during hot weather: asparagus, artichoke, fennel, onions, ginger, parsley, kale, dandelion greens, stinging nettle etc.
5) Spices. Anything hot is to be avoided during a heatwave because it raises body temperature and acts as a vasodilator, potentially accentuating lightheadedness and weakness common in hot weather. Spicy foods are particularly bad for anyone with gastritis, acid reflux or hemorrhoids because they make symptoms worse, which is not something you want from your food during a heatwave.