This time of the year, as things heat-up, lighter eating and enjoying foods that satiate as well as cool you down is a great way to help combat summer heat while staying energized and more tolerant of the elements.
Dr. Nina’s What You Need to Know: About Food That Help to Keep You Cool
Whether you’re planning a picnic, a backyard cookout, or want to bring a satisfying snack to your summer outdoor activities, here are a number of foods that offer great benefits–from added hydration to helping reduce body heat and keeping you fuller, longer with great energy!
High-Water Fruits and Vegetables
High-water foods not only help to keep you stay hydrated, while supporting other health benefits, but they can also keep you cooler. Overall, fruits and veggies are made-up of a large percentage of water, which is one of the awesome benefits of enjoying them.
They’re true powerhouses, filled with vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, fiber, and water. Consequently, they play a role in decreasing appetite while supporting organ and joint function, metabolism, circulation, skin health, and digestion as well as being a source of energy. Examples include:
- Cucumber: rich in fiber, high water content, and can be used as “chips” for dips providing a crunch without the calories, fat, and salt
- Watermelon: chock-filled with antioxidants, and mostly water (90% of the edible part of watermelons is water). It’s a “super snack” that provides your body with a cooling effect and shown to offer great “filling” power, or long-lasting satiety, while being low in calories. Watermelon is a delightful treat in its natural form or as a juice.
- Raw mushrooms are small …but mighty. They’re a valuable source of 15 essential minerals, vitamins, and antioxidants. Eating them raw can help the body stay cool and retain essential nutrients while helping to keep you feeling full. An added plus: they’re high in protein.
- Bananas are sweet in taste, dispel toxins from the body, and also helping you to feel fuller longer. Plus their skin makes it an easy to grab and go snack. No cutting, prepping, or baggies needed.
- Avocados are the fruit with the highest amount of monosaturated fatty acids, which helps remove heat and toxin from the blood.
- Citrus fruits are cooling thanks to their ability to help break down fatty foods and aid in digestion. Helping with digestion, these fruits are making your body work less and ultimately produce less heat.
Hydration and Water
We’ve all heard it – but it bears repeating. Water regulates body temperature, and our health and well-being are dependent on keeping our body temperature within a healthy range.
- Research shows that when you’re dehydrated, your body stores more heat. This, in turn, lowers your ability to tolerate hot temperatures. Staying hydrated by ensuring you are drinking plenty of water, allows your body to harness sweating as a mechanism to transfer heat out of your body.
- Even mild dehydration can make you feel hungry. When you’re thirsty, the hypothalamus in your brain is activated; however, it is the same part of the brain that’s activated by hunger. The lack of water, therefore, can make you feel like you had a lack of food — when really your body just needs a glass of water.
- Drinking coconut water is another way to refresh and revitalize your body. The vitamins, minerals, and electrolytes in coconut water make it a good way to hydrate.
- Drinking cool liquids (with refrigeration or ice) can help reduce body temperature by cooling the body internally. And yes, this includes eating healthy (but not sugary) ice-pops.
- Lime or lemon are great ways to add flavor to your water, if you find water’s tastelessness boring
Whether hot or cold, soup can cool your body down on warm days. Yes, you read that right, even hot soups! Your stomach takes that heat from the warmth of the soup and transfers it out of your body via sweat—hence, cooling it down. And soups are a great way to curb your appetite by making your tummy feel full.
Even more so than ice cream, yogurts can cool you down as a result of its high water content. Several experts caution too, steer clear from ice cream if you are truly trying to cool down because your body must work very hard to break down the calorically dense ice cream. In the end, it will warm you up rather than cool you down.
And as the great outdoors calls you to enjoy more time “out and about,” eating lighter, satisfying foods can mean less time in the kitchen this summer while supporting healthy energy levels and smart measures to help beat the heat. Enjoy!
Dr. Nina Radcliff is dedicated to her profession, her patients and her community, at large. She is passionate about sharing truths for healthy, balanced living as well as wise preventive health measures.
She completed medical school and residency training at UCLA and has served on the medical faculty at The University of Pennsylvania. She is a Board Certified Anesthesiologist. Author of more than 200 textbook chapters, research articles, medical opinions and reviews; she is often called upon by media to speak on medical, fitness, nutrition, and healthy lifestyle topics impacting our lives, today.