Fill up on fluids

Staying cool naturally will help you beat the heat, says Hena Nafis

  • Published 15.04.18


To keep cool, the first requisite is to drink lots of water. Potable water is undoubtedly the most inexpensive and indispensable thing in summer. It is the ideal and the most powerful coolant for our body and regulates body temperature. In intense heat, our body feels exhausted because of loss of fluid, salt and minerals through sweat. These need to be replenished immediately. Lack of water raises body temperature and can lead to medical emergencies and can sometimes prove to be fatal. Therefore it is extremely important to recognise your body’s signals for water intake before you get dehydrated. You may need around 3-4 litres a day when it’s hot and humid.

Check the colour of your urine to determine if your water intake is adequate or you need more. If your urine is strongly coloured, it means you are dehydrated and simply need more water. Ideally, urine should be a light, straw-coloured yellow.

Lack of water can lead to:

• Heat cramps: Feels like a severe muscle pull and is caused by lack of salt in the body.

• Heat exhaustion: It is a condition in which the body temperature rises to 102°F and is marked by extreme fatigue, dizziness, vomiting or fainting. It is caused when excessive heat and dehydration cause the body to overreact, resulting in high temperature.

• Heat stroke: It is a severe form of hyperthermia, with abnormally high body temperature (104°F and above). It is characterised by disorientation and loss of consciousness. It is a medical emergency and can prove to be fatal if not promptly treated.


Barley water: Barley water is used as a soothing, cooling and calming agent for patients having feverish conditions and gastric upsets.

Bel sherbet: The unripe bel is most prized as a means of halting diarrhoea and dysentery, which are prevalent in India in the summer months. It contains a chemical called psoralen in the pulp, which increases tolerance to sunlight and aids in maintaining normal skin colour. The fresh ripe pulp is used to make sherbet which improves digestion, is a good tonic and has mild laxative properties.

Coconut water: The excellent combination of electrolytes, sugar and water makes it an ideal replenishing drink for a dehydrated body. It can provide instant relief from cramps and boost energy.

Chilled soup: On a hot summer day, boiling hot soups are unappealing and unappetising. However, the day when the heat beats your appetite, you can fill yourself with chilled soups such as cucumber soups and gazpachos.

Iced tea: It is a refreshing drink and besides cooling and hydrating your body, it is full of antioxidants that retard oxidative damage. The scorching heat damages the skin and produces fine lines and wrinkles. The polyphenols in tea boost heart health and blood circulation.

Fruit juices: They are cooling as well as nourishing. They are nutrient-dense beverages providing vitamins, minerals and phytonutrients.

Nimbu pani: Lemon is a boon during summer. It can protect your body from several summer ailments like boils. The lemon and honey combination has the power to instantly replenish your body’s lost water and also works as an energiser.

Lassi and buttermilk: They provide you with the friendly bacteria called probiotics, providing immunity against stomach infections, common during the hot season. Have curd with your meals in the form of raita, kadhi and dips. When thirsty, have curd in the form of buttermilk, smoothies and lassis.

Best Summer Foods

Basil seeds: Also called sabza seeds, they act as a coolant and can reduce body heat.

Cucumber: Low in calories and high on water content make it an ideal summer food. It is also high on silica, an essential nutrient required by the skin that clears blemishes caused by the strong, scorching sun rays. Cucumber provides relief from heat rashes too.


Watermelon: It is a storehouse of water and a thirst-quencher. One large wedge of watermelon provides 250ml of water, equivalent to one cup of water.

Musk melon or cantaloupe: They have a relatively higher sodium content than other fruits, making them a perfect choice when dehydrated, providing both water and salt to the body.

Mango: Raw or ripe, both are packed with vitamins, minerals and antioxidants. It is a good source of Vitamin C, A, B6 and folate. It is perfect to replenish salts, sugar, vitamins and energy after exhaustion and depletion caused by heat and humidity. Drinking juice of raw mango can protect one from intense heat, by preventing excessive loss of sodium from the body and maintaining electrolyte balance. If you suffer from cramps during summer, consume raw mango juice.

Guava: It is the ideal fruit during the hot season because of its bacteria-busting properties. Food and water-borne infections are very common during summer. A study has shown that guava can protect against food-borne pathogens such as listeria and staphylococcus infections.

Top Tips

• Drink plenty of water.

• Tank up on fresh fruit juices. Weight watchers can dilute their juices with water to reduce calories.

• Avoid alcoholic beverages and caffeinated beverages as they cause the body to dehydrate.

• Cut down on fried and spicy food, which can slow down your already sluggish digestion caused by the heat.

• Wear loose-fitting, light-coloured clothes that allow heat to escape and sweat to evaporate.

• Do not go out in the sun straight out of an air-conditioned room.

Hena Nafis is a consultant nutritionist and the owner of nutrition and lifestyle clinic Nutrience