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Eat (and Drink) to Beat the Heat

This summer has been one of the hottest in history, and many Atlantans seek shelter from the sweltering heat index. The recent deaths of two Georgia high school football players have taught us this: not only are extreme temperatures uncomfortable, they are unsafe, too. Because going out is a necessity for most, avoiding the heat altogether is impossible. But, a few healthy eating practices can turn a potentially fatal temperature into a more favorable forecast. Try these tips to beat the heat!

1. Kick the caffeine and alcohol. A cup of coffee is okay, but consuming large amounts of caffeine can lead to dehydration. Caffeine is found in a number of foods and drinks, including teas and chocolate. Be mindful of how much you intake each day, especially when you’re exposed to heat for long time periods, to avoid a caffeine overdose. Likewise, alcohol intake should be monitored to prevent dehydration. Alcohol is a diuretic and blocks the release of ADH, a hormone needed for water reabsorption.

2. Fill up with fresh fruits and veggies. While frozen treats are a fun way to cool down, they are best enjoyed in moderation. (Your body’s physiological response to a freezing cold belly is to crank up the heat, which can actually make your body temperature rise. Source here.) Instead, try potassium-rich foods like bananas, oranges, tomatoes and squash and watermelon to replenish electrolytes and rehydrate your body.

3. Drink lots of water. Water is the best source of hydration for our internal organs, hair and skin. As a general rule, divide your weight in half and drink that number in ounces of water to stay healthy and remain hydrated. Because I weigh 110 lbs., I should drink at least 55 ounces of water each day. Due to sweating and other functions that deplete supply, I drink an additional glass to balance output. When exercising in heat, be sure to replenish often – about every 15 minutes – to avoid dehydration.

Now that you’ve read my tips for healthy eating and drinking in the heat, look out for our annual health and wellness issue in October!

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