Heat wave safety tips for 2021

Author : La Vanguardia Spanish newspaper

Source : La Vanguardia

We need to adapt our diet to the heat to minimize the impact of high temperatures on the energy of our body
11:07, 2 August 2021

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Various studies in recent years have shown that high temperatures can become dangerous for certain populations. One of them, published in the journal Nature Communications, notes that the number of deaths from respiratory diseases has shifted from the majority to the coldest periods of the year during the hottest times.

Another study by the Center for Scientific Research (CSIC), published in the journal Nature Climate Change, shows that a third of all heat-related deaths were the result of global warming.

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Keep in mind that extreme heat can also significantly affect cognitive performance in adults. A study by the TH Chan School of Public Health at Harvard University in the United States on two groups of students with and without air conditioning found that those who lived in buildings without air conditioning slowed down reaction time and memory.

Sugary drinks can help us suddenly increase our energy, but here's the problem: after half an hour, the positive effect will pass, and we will need these drinks again - in even larger volumes.

According to nutritionist Fatima Branco, in order to alleviate this effect of high temperatures on our energy as much as possible, it is important to change our daily routine to adapt it to this time of year: not go outside during the hottest hours of the day, avoid dehydration, maintain proper sleep hygiene. (sleep longer - ed.) and adapt your diet to high temperatures.

To do this, it is important, first of all, to avoid the use of certain foods, which in hot weather may turn out to be "false friends of the body", since their effect will be counterproductive.

"The sugary drinks that we like so much now because they are fresh and high in sugar (some of them also contain caffeine) are nothing more than bread for today and hunger for tomorrow. Because although they may help us feel a sudden burst of energy, but in half an hour we will need even more of these drinks to quench our thirst," explains nutritionist Fatima Branco, who reminds us that the best drink for humans is water.

The same applies to cakes, sweets, all kinds of pastries, and even to the king of summer - ice cream. All of these foods are usually very appetizing because they contain a lot of sugar, especially industrial sugar. But their positive impact on our energy will be, as in the case of sugary drinks, temporary.

If we want our diet to help us recover the energy we lose from rising temperatures, there is nothing better, Branco says than including all of these foods in our diet. So, here they are:

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Summer vegetables and fruits are the best choices to replenish constantly lost water, maintain water balance, and consume high amounts of antioxidants. “Seasonal fruits and vegetables contain a lot of water, which is what we need most now. And not only to maintain water balance but also to ease the feeling of thirst,” explains Branko.

“One of the best summer vegetables is cucumber, which is 97% water but also high in vitamins C, E, and fiber. A good way to include cucumber in your diet is to make a cucumber salad only. Of course, it can be served with meat or fish. But in this case, there is an effect that many people complain about: its strong taste masks the taste of the rest,” the specialist explains.


Among the summer refreshing plant foods with a lot of moisture, the first to come to mind are the "water" fruits: watermelons, melons, and peaches. But do not forget about an important vegetable - a tomato. Branco recommends using the season and combining it with other plant foods such as gazpacho or salmorejo. These dishes are high in water and vitamins and are refreshing and low in calories.


This versatile and low-fat vegetable ripens in the summer, and this allows us to use all of its properties in a variety of recipes, from salads to cold creams. It pairs well with hummus, among other things. In addition to its moisturizing properties, beets are also vasodilating, making them ideal for those with circulatory problems. This is especially useful in the summer.

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"Beetroot contains a substance that is responsible for its protective effect on the arteries, it is nitric oxide, a compound that is especially good in pre-meal snacks, and this is exactly the case of beets and salads from them," says nutritionist Susana Leon ...


Many people generally eliminate legumes from their diet in the summer, although this is actually the optimal time of the year to consume them regularly. Lentils, chickpeas, peas or beans, among others, are ideal for adding to salads because "they provide energy, fiber and vegetable protein," nutritionists remind. Here is the opinion of nutritionist Branko: "Legumes during this time of years are very beneficial for those people who consume less animal protein in summer and do not want to eat so much meat and fish," explains Branko.

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Despite the fact that in summer you most of all want to eat salads and fresh vegetables, we should not neglect the consumption of the basic nutritional elements, without which our body cannot function normally: fats, proteins, and carbohydrates. A good way to consume animal protein is to eat eggs, "the food that gives the body the ideal protein that sets the standard by which protein from other foods is judged," explains Branko.

The expert recommends avoiding raw eggs at this time of the year (it is best not to use eggs in sauces such as mayonnaise). Eggs are best eaten cooked, but mixed with other vegetables or in an omelet.

Although egg consumption has long been associated with high cholesterol levels, various scientific studies have disproved this belief. An international study published in the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition, conducted by scientists from the University of Navarra, shows that consuming up to four eggs per week can be beneficial for the heart.

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We have several decades behind our back during which the consumption of fat has been demonized, the truth is that this nutrient is necessary for the proper functioning of the body.

Nutritionist Pilar Esquer, professor at Gasma in Castellón and member of the Thinking Heads network, explains it this way: “Looking for less fatty foods is useless, because every cell in our body needs fat to function. weight does not fall, it continues to grow. This means that we missed the mark, made a mistake about the total fight against fat."

The expert notes that it is convenient to choose healthy fats, which are mainly found in foods such as extra virgin olive oil, nuts, fatty fish, or avocados. The latter, by the way, “the very season is in the summer because it needs very high temperatures to grow, so that is when the avocado should be eaten,” explains Branko, who always recommends eating seasonal products and those vegetables and fruits that grown in your area, nearby.


A good way to get energy with a low glycemic index is to include cereal-rich foods such as oatmeal in your diet. Ideal for breakfast, the Spanish Nutrition Foundation recommends baked, pancake, or bar-style breakfast cereals. Oatmeal can be consumed in a smoothie or raw, thanks to its low glycemic load and the content of macronutrients such as protein and fiber. They are ideally complemented by the minerals in oatmeal in the right doses, such as iron, magnesium, zinc, phosphorus, and potassium. Oatmeal is also useful because of its low natural salt and sugar content.

Laura Conde

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