Top ten tips for keeping cool in the heat

If you’re struggling with the arrival of the recent hot weather, here are our top 10 tips for keeping cool in the heat…

1. Drink plenty of water

Sweating is the body’s main mechanism for cooling itself down – when the water evaporates from the skin, this cools the body. So when the weather is hot, it is important to drink enough water to adequately rehydrate the body, but also so the body can sweat normally.

2. Drink refreshing but healthy cold drinks

Cold drinks also directly cool the body. But it can be easy to fall into the trap of drinking sugary soft drinks to cool you down – not a healthy option! Refreshing and healthy cold drinks include freshly squeezed lemon juice in water with ice, or cold peppermint tea with ice. To make this, prepare a litre of peppermint tea with hot water and three to four tea bags (or several sprigs of fresh mint), allow to cool and add ice cubes.

If you have a juicer at home, another wonderful cooling drink is fresh watermelon juice – but make it with half and half juice and water to reduce the sugar content. Fresh vegetable juices are also excellent. And when you’re out and about, go for cold sparkling water, with a slice of lemon if you’re in a café or restaurant.

3. Eat light meals

To avoid overheating, it is best to steer clear of heavy meals and very fatty or fried foods. Your body has to work hard to digest these foods and you can feel more hot and sluggish. Eat lightly, and try to eat more raw foods. Go for salads containing cooling, watery vegetables such as cucumber, tomatoes, celery, lettuce, spinach and radish.

4. Avoid too much caffeine

Caffeine in coffee, tea or energy drinks can raise your body temperature by temporarily increasing your metabolism – the rate at which the cells burn energy. This can add to the effect of the hot liquid on the body. Too much caffeine may be detrimental for many reasons so, regardless of the weather, we would recommend drinking no more than one to two cups of tea or coffee a day and avoiding energy drinks altogether.

5. Avoid spicy foods

If you are used to eating curries, you will know that spicy foods have an immediate warming effect on the body. Bad news for curry junkies!

6. Look after your blood sugar balance

What we eat directly affects the levels of glucose in our blood. If we consume sugary foods or drinks, or other foods that have a high glycaemic index (such as white bread, pasta, white rice, pastries, crisps, and many other processed foods), they are quickly broken down into glucose and absorbed into the blood. Blood glucose levels quickly go up, but then the hormone insulin is released which sends them plummeting down, causing a blood sugar low. The symptoms can include cravings for more sugary foods and carbohydrates, but also sweating and an increased heart rate – not ideal when you are already hot and bothered. Keep your blood sugar balanced by eating whole foods: vegetables, whole grains, and healthy protein sources such as eggs, fish, good quality meat, nuts and seeds, beans and lentils.

7. Avoid over-doing the alcohol

Alcohol can make you overheat at night, affecting your sleep. This is mainly because your liver is working hard to get rid of the alcohol from your body, and as the liver is the main heat-producing organ, this can raise your body temperature. This can be a particular problem when the nights are already hot and sticky.

8. Try aloe vera juice

In herbal medicine, aloe vera is said to have natural cooling properties. A good-quality aloe vera juice can make an excellent refreshing drink – add a couple of tablespoons to a glass of water with ice. Try Lily of the Desert Organic Aloe Vera Juice.

9. Take some spirulina

In traditional Chinese medicine, foods and herbs are said to have either heating or cooling properties. Spirulina is a blue-green algae that is classified as a cooling food. It is also a natural source of many vitamins and minerals including calcium, zinc, iron and vitamin B12. Spirulina powder can be added to juices (vegetable juices, preferably!) or taken as tablets or capsules. Try Microorganics Spirulina Pacifica tablets or Health Elements Organic Spirulina powder.

10. Use a cooling foot balm

A refreshing foot balm is ideal after a shower to cool and soothe tired and hot feet. Try Weleda Foot Balm, which contains extracts of essential oils including lavender, rosemary and sweet orange. http://www.nutricentre.com/p-18438-foot-balm.aspx