Dr Sudeep Khanna, Senior consultant at the Department of Gastroenterology, Indraprastha Apollo Hospitals
Indian summers are marked by rising temperatures and as the heat rises so do the number of digestive problems. Some of the common, non serious digestive or gastrointestinal disorders include gastroenteritis, heartburn, constipation, irritable bowel syndrome. Key symptoms of gastrointestinal disorders include abdominal cramps, diarrhoea, vomiting and bloating.
The rising heat affect per se does not affect our digestive enzymes as we are warm blooded , unless we suffer a heat stroke where many metabolic activities get affected/Rising temperatures surely can cause deterioration of kept food and the growth of various bacteria and viruses in these foods can cause gastrointestinal infections.It is important to regulate food habits during summers to be healthy.
Here are some simple preventive measures to take care of your digestive system during the soaring temperatures.
Hydration is a must
Consumption of water and water-based clear drinks such as freshly made juices and coconut water is helpful in keeping oneself hydrated during peak summers. Avoid sodas and caffeinated and sugary drinks. Due to the profuse sweating, the body loses a lot of water and hence it is essential to drink 8-10 glasses of water daily to replenish it, unless you have a heart or kidney disease. Curd and drinks like salted buttermilk cool the system and protect the body from the heat of the summer
Do not over do exercise
People should continue moderate ,regular exercising routine irrespective of the season. Health experts claim that exercises like yoga, cardio training, weight training, etc. not only aid in weight management but also simulate bowel movements and speed up digestion. Donot exercise for more than45 minutes at a stretch. Donot exercise for 2 hours after a meal.
Consume probiotic-rich foods
Yoghurt is the best source of probiotics. It is packed with proteins and bacteria that make digestion easier and better. Yoghurt in plain or flavoured form provides relief from diarrhoea.
Avoid drinks high in sugar content
Cold beverages such as cold coffee, energy drinks, packaged fruit juices and soda have high amount of sugar content which is not beneficial during the summer months.
Avoid spicy, fried, acidic food
Avoid oily snacks as they take lot of time to digest and increase risk of heartburn and bloating. Include green vegetables and fresh fruits such as apples, pears, watermelon, cucumber in the diet. Consume food in smaller servings and spread out the meals throughout the day as this helps in easy digestion and hydration. Eat salads with tomatoes, carrot and onion which are rich in fiber and thus help reduce cholesterol levels. They are also a good source of protein, iron, fibre, calcium and vitamins.
Use digestive spices/herbs
To improve digestion and prevent summer digestive problems, have spices or herbs. Coriander, fenugreek, fennel seeds, cardamom, cilantro, cumin, ginger and parsley in your summer diet.