It’s quite common to rely on freezing cold beverages and Popsicles to fight the heat while you’re spending hot summer days outside. There are, however, healthier (and as delicious) methods to chill off from the inside out, according to both Eastern and Western health experts: cooling foods for the body.
Tania Dempsey, MD, an integrative physician, and Divya Alter, co-founder of Bhagavat Life, an Ayurvedic cooking school, and Divya’s Kitchen, an Ayurvedic restaurant in Manhattan, discuss the three food principles to keep in mind while dining this summer while remaining cool.
1. Eat meals that are high in water
Alter notes that in Ayurveda, the concept of cooling does not directly apply to temperature; rather, it refers to the metabolic effects that different meals might have on the body. “After food travels through the stomach and into the intestine, the cooling or heating action occurs,” Alter explains. You know how your body feels a little heated and hot after eating a spicy curry? Because curry spices are considered “heating foods,” this is the case.
“Water-based foods like cucumber, zucchini, greens, berries, coconut, and watermelon are generally cooling,” adds Alter. Western medicine, according to Dr. Dempsey, also supports this. “Keeping hydrated is the key to cooling the body down from the inside, according to Western medicine. Water and minerals are abundant in fruits like watermelon and vegetables like celery, which aid in hydration.”
Dr. Dempsey claims that hydrating meals cool the body since the more fluid you consume, the better your cells operate and the less stressed they are. “Better-functioning cells are less likely to produce extra energy or heat, allowing the body temperature to remain stable,” she explains. “In addition, dehydration leads you to sweat less, which is vital for cooling down the body.”
2. Choose electrolyte-rich meals and beverages
Sweating can help you cool down, but you’ll need to replace your electrolytes as well, according to Dr. Dempsey. Coconut water, birch water, bananas, spinach, kale, and lime are all electrolyte-rich meals and drinks that are also cooling Ayurvedic foods. (This is most definitely not a coincidence.)
The ability of spicy meals to calm the body is one area where Eastern and Western medicine diverge. They do, according to Dr. Dempsey, because spicy foods make you sweat, and sweating cools the body down. However, Alter claims that they have a burning effect on the body and can cause it to heat up. “Onion and garlic are really hot, spicy foods that you can taste straight immediately,” she explains. “Foods that are acidic and pungent are often warming, so go with the flavour. They’re generally heating meals if they’re highly spicy, hot, or sour.” Consider how your body feels and act appropriately.
3. Eat and drink only at room temperature
Oh, and about that icy beverage and Popsicle-filled freezer: It’s a fallacy, according to Alter and Dempsey, that they’ll chill the body down. “It shocks the channels in your body, particularly the channels in your digestive tract,” Alter explains, “which really impairs the digestive system.” “Ice cubes are fine to put on your skin, but not in your drink.”
“Many people assume that drinking cold water or other iced drinks would help cool the body down, but it only cools the parts of the body that it comes into touch with, such as the mouth and throat,” Dr. Dempsey says. “This might backfire, making the body work harder by attempting to warm up the chilly area of the body that was in contact with the water. Working harder causes the body to produce more heat.” Both experts agree that beverages should be served slightly chilled or at room temperature.
During the summer, it’s especially important to listen to your body and pay attention to what it desires. As Alter says, this assists you in determining what you require. There’s a reason that bowl of freshly sliced watermelon looks so delicious. Is it appropriate for the summer? You’ve taken care of everything.