It’s summer and many of us trying to spend as much time outdoors as we possibly can. It’s also a good time of year to keep track of nutrition and the foods we’re eating, so we asked registered dietician Nishta Saxena to share some of the best foods and nutrition tips for the warm summer months.
Food for hydration
There are many water-packed foods that can help keep you hydrated in the summer; we can get up to 30 per cent of our hydration from foods, if we choose the right ones. Foods such as fruits and veggies, dairy products, soups and, yes, even clear tea and coffee, can all be hydrating.
Foods to try
- Melons, stone fruits, strawberries
- Cucumbers, celery, lettuces, snap peas
- Citrus fruit
- Broths and clear soup
- Sparkling water
- Herbal teas
- Black tea and coffee
- Unsweetened fluid dairy milk or unsweetened plant milk
- Fish, cooked whole grains and even eggs have water we can use in our body
Citrus fruits (oranges, lemons, limes, melons) are also a good source of vitamin C, which is so important for maintaining our skin integrity—which can often take a beating in the summer.
Foods to keep your body cool
There are also foods that can help create a sensation of “cool” and be hydrating at the same time.
Foods to try
- Mint leaves
- Leafy greens such as lettuces
Foods and the sun
There are some hot summer foods you can add to your meals that will boost the vitamin D and nutrients of your summer fare.
Foods to try:
- Dried shitake mushrooms
- Dairy products (i.e. yogurt or milk)
- Soy milk
- Fortified orange juice
Food sources of vitamins are crucial, but sometimes not enough. Vitamin D is a supplement all Canadians require for adequate levels—standing out in the sun, sadly, won’t get you what you need. Why? Ozone damage, which prevents the correct spectrum of rays getting through to our skin. This ozone damage means standing in the unprotected sun, even for 15 minutes, can lead to a burn, and this is an unwanted risk.
Food safety and spice
To cool off in the summer, spice up your life. Using chilli peppers like jalapeños, green or red chilies, or hot pepper sauces can actually cool you off. Hot spicy foods are commonly eaten in the hottest countries in the world. So, how does this work? Hot pepper or capsaicin, dilates the blood vessels and causes and increase in sweating. Sweat is the body’s way of pushing out water to be evaporated, which when it leaves the skin creates a potent cooling sensation!
Make sure you keep hot foods hot and cool foods cold. Food safety is very important in searing temperatures, at picnics and events, day trips and markets, it’s sometimes hard to know when and where foods have been kept. Food borne illness affects more people in the summer months. Stay out of the danger zone, and keep foods at their prepared temperature.