Summer is that season of the year when the scorching sun coupled with high humidity and hot wind makes life uncomfortable for one and all. The high temperature results in sweating which leads to a loss of fluid along with the electrolytes-sodium, potassium and chloride from the body resulting in weakness, fatigue, muscle cramps and ultimately dehydration which is a serious health risk if left untreated.
Since our body cannot store water, maintaining adequate hydration is the biggest challenge during summer since there is a great loss of fluid from the body due to sweating and urination. Keep in mind that if the fluid requirement is not met one is also at risk of developing kidney stones or urinary tract infection. Here are some beverages that can help keep one cool and hydrated:
Water: There is nothing like drinking a glass of cool water on a hot humid day. Water is the best zero calorie drink that one can have during summer as it does not add calories to the diet as most other beverages do. It does not matter whether one drinks water plain or chilled. Before going out of the house in the sun drink a glass or two of water and carry a bottle of water along with you to quench your thirst as and when needed. For those who not like to drink plain water, you can add flavour by putting slices of lemon and a few mint leaves into your jug of drinking water.
Tender coconut water: Aptly termed as “Nature’s own soft drink” tender coconut water is a refreshing drink with a mild sweet flavour that contains natural sugars, vitamins especially vitamin B and vitamin C and minerals – the principal one being potassium, sodium, calcium, magnesium, phosphorus, iron and copper. Tender coconut water has diuretic properties as it increases urination and helps prevent urinary tract infection, a common problem in summer. The very high potassium content of coconut water makes it unsuitable for people suffering from kidney failure disorders.
Iced Tea: Iced black tea or iced green tea are the other summer coolers. Drunk without milk and flavoured with lemon juice and mint, these beverages quench thirst but can provide a lot of calories from the sugar that is added to sweeten the tea. Drinking tea has many health benefits. It improves cardiovascular function, decreases blood pressure and revitalizes a person. Tea contains alkaloids that helps relieve mental fatigue and polyphenols and flavonoids which are powerful antioxidants. To cut calories enjoy your iced tea unsweetened.
Kokum squash or xarope de brindão: It has a cooling effect on the body and protects the body against dehydration and sunstroke. Kokum contains Anthocyanin pigments which give it its pinkish purple colour, citric acid, acetic acid, malic acid, ascorbic acid, hydroxycitric acid (HCA) and garcinol, all of which have been shown to have antioxidant properties.
Lemonade or nimbupani: Another popular beverage particularly in summer. This drink is made from sweetened lemon juice along with water or soda and provides vitamin C and sodium (from the added salt). Nimbupani or soda is low in calories when consumed without added sugar.
Sugarcane juice (Ganne ka Ras): Served ice cold on a hot summer day, this sweet and refreshing beverage contains natural sugars, B-complex vitamins, vitamin C and minerals such as calcium, iron and manganese. Sugar cane juice is a great energizer and has a lot of medicinal value. According to Ayurveda, sugarcane juice helps strengthen the liver and is recommended in the treatment of jaundice. A word of caution, the juice that is available at roadside carts can be contaminated with microorganisms from the water and ice that is used while extracting the juice, from the extraction machine and also from unclean containers and glasses that are used to serve the juices.
Cold Coffee: Drinking a tall glass of cold coffee topped with a scoop of ice cream is not only yummy but also refreshing on a hot day. Cold coffee is high in calories from the milk, sugar and ice cream and also provides some protein. Coffee contains caffeine which is a powerful stimulant.
Falooda: Another popular summer beverage that is traditionally prepared by mixing rose syrup, sweetened milk, vermicelli, sabja seeds (tupemirem) and served with a scoop of ice cream or kulfi. Falooda is a high calorie beverage food that is meal by itself. It contains carbohydrates from the sugar and starch, fat from the ice-cream, protein, fat, calcium, vitamin A and vitamin B from the milk and soluble fibre from the sabja seeds or tupemirem that is used.
Herbal beverages: India is home to many indigenous cold drinks – thandai, mango panna, bael ka sherbet, jaljeera, Khus ka Sharbat, shikanji etc that are prepared from a variety of fruits, vegetables and herbs. These beverages have high-water content and inherent cooling properties that not only quench thirst but also provide vitamins and minerals such as sodium and potassium and help maintain the water and electrolyte balance of the body.
(The writer is a Consultant Nutritionist with 19 years of experience, practicing at Panaji and can be contacted on firstname.lastname@example.org)