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Early summer ennui hits columnist

By Staff | Jun 25, 2009

I have to confess to a little summer lethargy. Is it the weather? Is it really hotter than normal? We need some strategies for staying cool, don’t we? Sitting in a bucket of ice sounds idyllic but doesn’t work in an office environment. Here is a short list of how to stay healthy in really hot weather:

n Drink plenty of fluids. That is a no-brainer but what may not be readily apparent is what constitutes hydrating fluids. Just to make things simple, avoid these beverages: soft drinks, sugary drinks (even the ones that boast of electrolytes), coffee, and most alcoholic drinks. Do drink water, herbal teas, and unsweetened iced tea. An occasional glass of wine is fine but doesn’t replenish evaporating fluids. Drink at least 2 ounce of fluid for every two pounds of body weight, spaced throughout the day.

n Go beyond simple water, however, if you spend a great deal of time outdoors because sweat not only evaporates water but leaches minerals out through the skin as well. These minerals function in the electrical system of your body, so you need to replenish sodium, potassium, chloride, and magnesium frequently and profusely. The best way to do that is to add drops of liquid minerals or (one of my favorites) powders like Emergen-C or other electrolyte replacers that don’t contain much sugar.

n Eat cool foods like fresh fruits and vegetables. Salads are great this time of year. I enjoy loading my plate with organic, freshly chopped colorful vegetables, and adding a small piece of protein to balance it out.

Animal protein is “hot food,” which means that it heats the body by increasing metabolism. People often don’t feel like heavy meat meals in the summer, which is their body’s way of communicating that it wants lighter foods like fruits and vegetables. One of my favorite cooking magazines recently featured a recipe for a vegetable tart. I’m going to make it this weekend. It calls for thinly slices vegetables colorfully layered on top of goat cheese and baked in a tart shell. I am craving it already.

n Even though we do not want so much animal protein, we still need protein. This is a good time to enjoy beans in salads, dips, and soups. Raw nuts and seeds add a delightful crunch to a salad. Lentils are particularly good in salads and soups. I often make main course salads with leftover bits of fish or chicken. Goat cheese is tangy and a little salty; I love it sprinkled on salad or soup.

n We all know about wearing cotton or other natural fibers that allow moisture to evaporate, thus cooling us off. (Remember polyester suits? Yikes!)

If you enjoy outdoor exercise, get out early in the morning. If you are early enough, you may avoid being eaten alive by bugs (I don’t think they wake up until sunrise, do they?)

Carol is a certified lifestyle educator at the offices of Dr. Alan Gruning in Fort Myers. She owns the Island Nutrition Center on Sanibel. She can be reached at 472-4499.