good health
The heat is on
Rising temperatures in summer can create many problems. However, adequate fluid intake and some cooling fruits and vegetables can prevent these
Dr Anjali Mukerjee

With the rising mercury, most people tend to experience certain health woes such as nose bleeds, heat stroke, dehydration, skin rashes and prickly heat, sunburn and stomach upsets. Seasons change and our bodies too react to the season in predictable ways.

Since our body temperature is less than the environment, it tends to release heat by vaso-dilating blood vessels, thus people tend to have nose bleeds during hot temperatures. The perspiration or excessive sweating leads to damage of cells on the surface of the skin, forming a barrier and trapping sweat beneath the skin. As toxins start building up under the skin, we get prickly heat. As the bumps burst and sweat is released, we may feel a stinging sensation which may lead to skin rashes, itching and peeling skin. The UV rays can damage your skin and eyes, if you are out in the sunlight for long hours.

Heat woes

Heat stroke and dehydration are two major problems encountered during summers. Heat stroke occurs when the body's temperature control system gets overloaded and is unable to control the steep rise in body's temperature. The sweating mechanism fails, and the body is unable to cool down. This often results from working heavily or exercising excessively in hot and humid environment coupled with inadequate fluid intake. Warning signs of heat stroke vary but usually include an extremely high body temperature (above 103įF), red, hot, and dry skin (no sweating), rapid pulse, throbbing headache and dizziness.

Preventive tips

Maintaining an optimum fluid intake and replacing the lost electrolytes is vital during summers to avoid dehydration and to compensate for water lost during perspiration. Since dehydration reduces your general fitness levels and adversely affects your work performance, the following guidelines would aid you in rehydrating and oxygenating your system optimally and in keeping you fit and alert throughout the day, irrespective of the exposure to the scorching summer heat.

Vegetable juices are better than caffeinated or carbonated beverages

* Drink water or juice, not caffeinated beverages. Drinking at least 12-15 glasses or 2.5 to 3.5 litres per day is recommended. Maintaining an optimum fluid intake is vital during summers to avoid dehydration and to compensate for water lost during perspiration. Plain water is best, though you may also add lime, jal jeera powder, melon seeds (sabza) or mint juice. Drinking soda with rock salt may help to replace the electrolytes lost through sweat but avoid caffeinated or carbonated beverages, alcoholic beverages, and those high in sugar.

* Top recommended foods for summers are lettuce, cucumber and mint among vegetables and water melon, pine apple, oranges, and sweet lime among fruits. Being low in sodium and calories, high in potassium and packed with vitamin C, vitamin A and anti oxidants, these seasonal fruits and vegetables qualify as good thirst quenchers and coolants.

(1) Yoghurt is more cooling than milk; (2) Pineapple has digestive properties; and (3) Cucumber juice 
is cooling

* Drink: Wheat grass juice and other green juices made from coriander, curry patta, palak are good. Consume coconut water, fruit juices, buttermilk, lime juice and carrot juice to cool the summer heat. Add black salt and lime juice for a tasty touch.

* Consume less of warming foods: Avoid red meats, fried foods, coffee, alcohol, whole milk and cigarettes. Summer creates 'heat conditions' inside the body if we fail to pay attention to the demands of our internal rhythms and consume too many 'warming' foods in the summer. It only aggravate the heat conditions. The cardinal rule about meal preparation is that it should be light, nutritious, non-fatty and not too spicy.

* Foods having heat-inducing properties like cinnamon, garlic, pepper, dried fruits, ghee should be used sparingly whilst 'cooling' foods such as kokum, yoghurt, dried coconut, raw small mangoes are preferred.

* Peppermint oil combats high body temperature and restores balance, hence is great way to beat the heat stroke. Peppermint can be applied on the temples or elsewhere on the skin.

* Wear appropriate clothes (light cotton, loosely fitted clothes) while out in the sun. In case of heat stroke, the victim should be cooled rapidly by immersing him in cool water or sponging him with wet tissue whilst continuously monitoring his body temperature. 

Foods for summer

Watermelon: A juicy ripe watermelon has great taste and nutrition both packed in the same package.. This fruit has the highest water content i.e. 95 per cent and is packed with Vitamin C, Vitamin A and potassium.

Meals in summer should be light, nutritious, non-fatty and not too spicyWatermelon has a low sodium content and high potassium content making it an ideal food for those suffering from high blood pressure. People who eat a lot of animal proteins like chicken, fish, mutton, beef, pork tend to lose more calcium from their bones. Increasing potassium intake is one of the many factors that helps prevent bone loss. Intake of potassium also helps energise a tired body. It is not only cooling but is also a natural diuretic. It is alkaline in nature and prevents biliousness. It is the best thirst quencher. It is beneficial for those suffering from kidney problems and urinary tract infections. It is an excellent remedy for acidity, and has a soothing effect on the stomach. Although it is not rich in fibre it has a laxative effect. This is probably because of its high water content. Since it can be easily eaten in large quantities it helps rehydrate the body and facilitates passing of soft regular bowels. Above all, it is extremely low in calories and packed with nutrients.

Meals in summer should be light, nutritious, non-fatty and not too spicy

Pineapple: This fruit is known for its digestive properties. It contains an enzyme called bromelin, which resembles pepsin and therefore helps to improve digestion. Pineapple is a natural diuretic and helps prevent water retention in women. It soothes the bile, is cooling to the stomach and is effective in relieving abdominal pain. It contains Vitamins C and manganese. It helps prevent blood clots formation and is therefore good for people suffering from heart disease.

Cucumber: This vegetable has a very cooling effect on the body. It is alkaline in nature. It helps to detoxify the body and improves elimination of the waste products. It is rich in potassium due to which it helps combat fatigue and muscle weakness. It is usually cut and eaten raw, but cucumber juice is very effective in treating hyperacidity. If you have been out in the sun all day and not eaten much and are feeling faint and weak then cucumber juice is the ideal juice for you as it helps quench thirst and reduce the burning sensation due to no food intake. It prevents accumulation of uric acid and is therefore beneficial to patients suffering from gout, and rheumatism. Cucumber juice is a skin cleanser and is more effective when taken along with carrot juice. To make a glass of cucumber and carrot juice, pass 3 cucumber and 2 carrots through the juicer. A touch of lime can enhance the taste of this cool drink packed with Vitamin C, potassium and loads of Beta-carotene. By choosing to eat wisely you can protect yourself from heat problems during summer. Drink plenty of fluid, replace salts and minerals optimally, wear appropriate clothes and sunscreen, pace yourself, stay indoors, schedule outdoor activities carefully, go for water sports and you will surely be able to not only beat the heat but also enjoy it!

ó The writer is a nutritionist. She treats obesity and related health disorders online. 
She can be reached at /







Hairís how
A healthy diet and good hygiene can take check many hair woes 
Dr Sonal Shah

Indian women have learned about maintenance of hair from their mothers and grandmothers. Hair-care tips have been passed from generation to generation and so, even today, with the wonders of science and technology all around us, most of us continue to look to age-old wisdom. While many of these home truths do have some truth in them, but in the context of modern living, some need to be firmly qualified. Here are a few common beliefs that need to be considered before these are blindly believed.

Myth: Shirshasan promotes hair growth

Fact: We cannot grow hair through any external factors. Hair follicles need more than blood flow to grow hair. Standing on your head to increases blood flow to your scalp but has no effect on your hair.

Myth: Cutting hair frequently will make it grow long faster

Fact: We cannot really make our hair grow fast but we can keep it healthy by eating a balanced diet, drinking plenty of water and washing and brushing it correctly. Trimming the ends of the hair will help in getting rid of split ends. If split ends are allowed to remain, they will continue to split higher, causing hair to break off and thus shortening the hair.

Myth: Oiling is good/bad for the hair

Fact: Despite the fact that oiling performs the essential function of scalp-conditioning, it will not stop hair from falling. Oiling is a pre-requisite to condition the scalp.

Myth: Tonsuring (mundan) is compulsory for a child

Fact: It has become almost mandatory to shave a baby's head, in the hope of promoting good hair growth, but there is no evidence to suggest it helps. The hair quality is determined by many factors. It is important to have a balanced diet, rich in proteins. Hair also needs minerals like iron, copper and zinc in the right proportions and deficiency of these will affect the growth. This is true for body hair. Many women shy away from using razor though it is one of the most convenient and safe modes of hair removal.


Do: Shampoo your hair. Indians seem to have an unfounded fear of shampooing. Shampoo is merely a cleansing agent and whether you use it in the form of soap or a liquid makes no difference, as long it is suited to your hair type. Moreover, shampoo has no effect on hair loss and neither does it cause an increase in the production of sebum (oil). The hair that fall out during shampooing are due to fall anyway and people with oily hair should, in fact, shampoo more frequently.

Don't: Wash your hair too often. It is harmful to the hair to have a continuous supply of moisture applied to it, but shampoo is not the culprit. Rather it is advisable not to wash your hair more than thrice a week (with or without shampoo), unless you find it distinctly greasy or dirty. If you are a sports-person, or travel a lot and your hair gets dirty, don't hesitate to use shampoo while washing - only make sure it is formulated for daily use.

Don't: Avoid shaving your head or oiling it to stimulate hair growth. There is no evidence to suggest that it helps..

Despite the fact that oiling performs the essential function of scalp conditioning it will not stop hair from falling if you are having a hair loss problem, nor will it accelerate the rate of hair re-growth.

Do: Make sure you have a balanced diet, rich in proteins. If you suspect that you are losing hair excessively, it would be advisable to pay a visit to a trichologist.

ó The writer is a trichologist and has a website