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14.07.2020

Eating healthily in summer

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What works when temperatures soar?

We’ve already had a few really hot days this year. As soon as it starts to get hot, it’s especially important to listen to your body and protect it against the heat by eating the right food, as temperatures of 30°C can affect your circulation and physical condition.  

What actually happens to your body in hot weather?

Of course, the human body does have a natural means of protecting itself against extreme heat. As it gets hotter, the blood vessels in the skin expand, so that the blood inside your body is better able to come to the surface and cool. In addition, your body simply exhales heat. Older people and those with physical disabilities or chronic illness have to take particular care. Heart function and the condition of your circulatory and respiratory systems deteriorate with age, thus limiting the body’s ability to cool its blood and lungs. So how can you ensure that your body is properly nourished in summer?

Drink before you get thirsty!

As you’ve probably already guessed, drinking is hugely important. However, even though a super-chilled drink may feel wonderfully refreshing, you should opt for cool rather than ice-cold thirst-quenchers. For one thing, cold drinks can cause stomach pain. What’s more, slightly chilled drinks promote the body’s natural reaction to heat more effectively than icy liquids. Water, unsweetened teas and fruity spritzers with a low juice content come recommended. Alcohol encourages the body to excrete liquids and coffee can over-stimulate the circulatory system, so you should only enjoy these drinks in moderation, or ideally avoid them altogether. And always remember that you should be drinking something before you start feeling thirsty!

Drink more if you’re not eating much or indulging in unhealthy foods

Besides drinks, solid foods also provide you with water to keep your fluid levels up. You can get a lot of water from fruit, in particular – different varieties may be up to 90% water. Good-quality rye bread is almost 50% water. Even fish, lean pork or lean beef can contain more than 70% water. That said, you shouldn’t go overboard with eating meat, as animal protein can actually stimulate heat production within the body. By limiting meat consumption, you’ll be helping to keep both yourself and the climate cool, as livestock rearing produces greenhouse gas emissions that contribute towards global warming. Not only do fruit and vegetables have a positive effect on your body, but you’ll be doing something good for the environment and the climate at the same time. 

Of course, fruit and vegetables aren’t only good for your body in terms of their water content. They also provide you with vital vitamin C, which assists your body’s hormonal adjustment to heat. In summer you should be looking to consume up to 250 milligrams of vitamin C a day. This is actually really easy to achieve, as a normal kiwi gives you up to 70 milligrams of vitamin C, while just 100 grams of red pepper contains 150 milligrams of vitamin C. As vitamin C is highly heat-sensitive, it’s best to eat fruit and vegetables raw.

Key points at a glance

  • Drink a lot, but make sure your drinks aren’t too cold.
  • Enjoy sugary drinks, coffee and alcohol in moderation, or ideally do without them altogether.
  • Reduce your fish and meat consumption.
  • Eat plenty of fruit and vegetables to regulate your vitamin C balance.
  • Listen to your body!
© NGV mbH, Photo: TLC Fotostudio
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