Although summer does not officially start until June 21st this year, I think we can all agree that it might as well have been summer here in New York City already for the last 3 weeks!
With temperatures soaring, it’s very easy to become overheated in NYC. The subways have been cool, but the platforms are easily on par with saunas (please carry water bottles with you at all times; you don’t want to get stranded on a platform or worse in a train with no power).
All year long, I encourage my patients to drink plenty of water, but its especially important this time of year.
Some people have no problem drinking adequate amounts of water to stay hydrated, but others find it hard to do. Below are some tips that will help those even those who don’t like drinking water get enough of it, and make sure the water you drink is refreshing and most importantly actually being absorbed and hydrating our bodies.
My first tip often results in people looking at me as if I said I went to the moon. Even during the summer, my drinks of choice tend to be hot. Those who have treated with me are familiar with my spiel about how our bodies work very hard to maintain a 98.6 degree temperature. When we eat or drink cold foods and beverages, our internal temperature drops significantly. Like a furnace, our body has to work hard very quickly to bring the temperature back to the 98.6 degrees, the optimal temperature for our body’s myriad functions. During the summer months, I drink hot teas that have cooling properties such as green tea and peppermint. This way I get a cooling feeling without putting out my digestive fire. If drinking hot fluids is too much, try sticking with room temperature water with cucumber or lemon slices in it. Berries are also a nice variation.
On that note, iced coffees are probably the worst drink you can choose. Aside from the amount of sugar often incorporated into these drinks, the combination of caffeine and ice only lead to more dehydration in the long run. Caffeine is a diuretic, and actually induces our bodies to release more fluid through urination. That means there’s less fluid for our bodies to use as sweat, the natural way we cool ourselves off.
My favorite Chinese herb to recommend to patients this time of year is Watermelon. It has cooling properties, and is 92% water. It is also low in calories and has vitamin A, C and potassium.
Other foods that can be eaten to promote hydration are leafy greens and, my favorite, all kinds of berries.
Remember, our brains sometimes mistake the thirst signal and try to convince us we’re hungry instead. So if you find you’re excessively hungry this summer, try drinking some water first.
Other quick tips (will address these more in future posts) to stay healthy this summer are: Please say no to hot yoga; avoid flip flops that are only secured with the first and second toe; do not eat only raw and cold foods; apply sunblock everywhere, everyday!
See you at the beach!