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Don’t let the heat get to you

No need to wait for the monsoon to cool the atmosphere – here are some ways to keep your body cool from inside

As global warming takes a toll, you can keep your body cool by making the right choices when it comes to food and drink. Water infused with khus (vetiver) is one of my favourites, as it is also alkaline. (Infusion means soaking herbs or fruits in water). Other infused drinks can be made with cucumber, lemongrass, lemon and mint.

Avoid aerated drinks, instead go for traditional coolers like kokum, coconut water and sherbets made of bael, watermelon or pineapple. Sattu (dry roasted gram) mixed in water is a traditional cooler, as are lassi and chaach, both milk products. Have your drinks cold but not ice-cold. Don’t leave perishable food items out on counters – refrigerate as soon as possible as bacteria multiply at hot temperature.

When it comes to food, prepare simple meals using less spices. Try fermented foods like sauerkraut, a German dish of chopped pickled cabbage. Then there is kefir (a culture of yeasts and bacteria) and kombucha (sweetened black or green tea), both recent additions to the Indian menu. Papaya and watermelon are ideal fruits for the season.

Did you know that combining breathing techniques with meditation and yogasanas can make you calmer and cooler? Chopra Centre for Wellness run by famous Dr Deepak Chopra in the US recommends Sitali Pranayam, a breathing technique.  “This breathing practice is like drinking a sweet, cool beverage through a straw on a hot summer day,” explains Lena Schmidt. “The sweetness is your breath! As you curl your tongue into a straw, you’ll sip the nectar of prana and feel rejuvenated.’

how to do sitali pranayam:

  • Curl the sides of your tongue to make the shape of a straw.
  • Breathe in through your tongue. You’ll feel the coolness on your tongue and in the back of your throat as the air enters your mouth.
  • At the top of your inhale, sip your tongue into your mouth and seal your lips. Hold your breath for a moment.
  • Exhale through your nose fully.

This is to be repeated several times. “If you are not able to curl your tongue, open your mouth just enough to show your teeth and breathe in through the sides of your teeth. Then exhale through your nose. You’ll still feel the coolness in your mouth,” says Schmidt.

Back home, as the heat wave sent the mercury shooting up, Fortis Healthcare issued an advisory to help Delhi’s citizens cope. Hospitals are full of patients suffering from heat-stroke, heat cramps and dehydration, the most vulnerable being the kids and the elderly.

Dr Rajeev Gupta, Director, Internal Medicine at Fortis Shalimar Bagh shares some tips to maintain an ideal body temperature and enjoy summer.

  • Stay indoors: Direct exposure to sunlight should be avoided, especially between 12 noon and 3 pm.

  • Cover up:
    Apply sunscreen lotion. Use umbrellas, caps or wet towels while stepping out to avoid tanning and sunburn.
  • Hydrate: Drink at least 8-10 glasses of water. A lemon and honey drink can instantly replenish your body’s lost fluids and work as an energiser. Drinking fluids even when not thirsty is helpful. Avoid caffeine, alcohol or excessive tea as they tend to dehydrate.
  • Wear loose, full-sleeved, light-coloured cotton clothes: These protect the body from the sun and aid evaporation of sweat. Wearing a hat or sunglasses is also helpful.
  • Maintain food hygiene: Include fluids such as lemon water. Avoid eating outside snacks from canteen or open kiosks to avoid food poisoning along with fried food. Food and water-borne diseases are very common in this period. Only bottled or filtered water should be consumed outside home. Children should be made aware of these very important points and encouraged to wash hands regularly.
    Wind down: Avoid vigorous physical activity. If you feel weak or dizzy, take water or nimbu pani with salt. Lie with your legs elevated for about half an hour to prevent fainting attacks.

   In short, stop cursing the sun and learn how to take care of yourself.

Dr Reshma  is an advocate of wellness, prevention and holistic health. Instagram handle: dr.reshmakhattarbhagat