Best and worst foods to eat during a heatwave

Perhaps you’ve spent this heatwave subsisting on ice lollies and the odd cold drink, or maybe you’re more of an all-in barbecue type.

Aside from being satisfying, though, the food we choose to eat during a heatwave can affect how well we fare while the temperatures climb.

The nutrients they provide (or deplete) can change how much we sweat, how dehydrated we become, and how well our body recovers from things.

Even the process of digestion itself can generate heat from our bodies, so certain foods are inclined to make us feel the heat more than usual.

If you want to heat to beat the heat, here’s how.

Foods to eat in a heatwave

Food accounts for around 20% to 30% of the water we consume, so going for snacks high in water should keep you feeling hydrated.

Fruit is your best bet here, and particular options like melon and strawberries are full of water, taste great, and are also packed with vitamins.

On the savoury side, leafy greens contain lots of water, and can be added to any dish easily.

Spice fiends will be pleased to know that chilli can cool you down in a heatwave. It may seem counterproductive, but the capsaicin in the chilli causes you to sweat, which then cools your body down.

Foods to avoid in a heatwave

On the opposite end of this, you need to avoid foods that might dehydrate you. Salt is one of the main culprits of this, so steer clear where possible.

Diuretic foods that flush water from the body (therefore affecting your hydration levels) include coffee, tea, mangoes, and cranberries. While there’s nothing wrong with a little of these things, try not to overdo it and ensure you drink plenty of water too.

We won’t say it too loudly, but alcohol is another diuretic. If you do enjoy a tipple, make an effort to bookend drinks with water.

As well as these, high protein foods are best avoided if you can. Protein is harder for the body to digest, and it creates heat as it does so – something called thermogenesis.

According to Food Republic: ‘It can take anywhere from 50 to 100% more energy to break down protein compared to carbohydrates. The moral of the story: Take it easy on the meat.’

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