Between BBQ, cold sandwiches and that family recipe of creamy potato salad, summer brings a large array of delicious foods to satiate our appetites. As one of the more social seasons, summer and food really do go hand-in-hand — especially if you’re heading to theme parks or county fairs.
However, there is also plenty of seasonal fare that not only leads to fatigue, irritability, skin issues and decreased digestion, but also raises body temperature during the warmer weather. When dealing with the exhausting humidity or a pending heat wave, it’s crucial to use every defense available to help you stay as cool as possible.
Whether it’s funnel cake or fried anything, thanks to the influx of innovative chefs, there’s really no avoiding greasy food or fried dough this summer. Think of it as a seasonal rite-of-passage! Yet when planning meals and treating yourself to desserts, stick with cool and naturally sweet foods rather than cooked, hot foods. Not only are fried foods heavy in trans fats, but it makes them harder to digest and increases inflammation in the body. Moreover, it’s hard to burn those calories off when they’re clogging your arteries and causing lethargy.
There’s no denying that spicy food brings an exciting kick to the dining experience. Between jalapeños and cayenne pepper, we love it all. While spicy food can help you maintain a healthy body weight and increase longevity, there’s a dark side that you might not realize. As one of the worst to consume in the summer, the heat of spicy food mixes with the temperature of the season, causing you to feel irritable and over-heated. Even if you cool it down with milk or water, as your body’s internal temperature rises, so does inflammation. This results in a flare-up of previously existing eczema or acne.
While seaside escapes and weekends on the lake are a big part of the summer dream, common lore states we should only be eating shellfish in months ending with the letter "R." The New York Times reports the particular class of seafood to be problematic in the summer due to massive blooms of algae that accumulate along the coastlines during the warmer weather — known as the "Red Tides." Researchers suggest if we eat locally harvested oysters, muscles and clams as opposed to mainstream and cultivated, we could develop "paralytic shellfish poisoning" as shellfish absorbs all the toxins from the tides. Pro tip: if shellfish during this season doesn’t taste great and is unpleasantly thin, milky and soft — avoid it.
Sugary and Caffeinated Beverages
A cold iced coffee from your favorite café or mama’s sweet tea brew might be the ultimate quench buster during that humid day, but the reality is both dehydrate you. Some of our beloved refreshments like coffee, tea and fruit juice made from concentrate are actually diuretics that are not ideal for a sweaty afternoon. Whether caffeinated or sugary, these drinks cause us to make more bathroom runs as they free us of salt and water. Additionally, the sugar content in these drinks causes blood sugar spikes and crashes that leave you tired, hungry and even more thirsty.
Burgers and Hot Dogs
Hot dogs and burgers are the true essence of summer, but they shouldn’t be your go-to meal this season. While the three are a match made in BBQ heaven, the truth is the high protein and fat content can create your body temperature to spike as it works to process the meat. As a result, it consumes more of your energy and causes sluggishness. If that wasn’t enough of a damper on your enthusiasm for these meats, the two are also packed with salts and nitrates, which make you super thirsty while kicking up your blood pressure.
Summer isn’t complete without a few cocktails or a frosty beer brought to you by that cute cabana boy on the beach. But while indulging in pretty drinks to cool off might seem like a good idea, alcohol and heat don’t blend. By drinking alcohol during the summer, you risk heat stroke and dehydration. Brought on by severe thirst, alcohol unfortunately lowers your body’s ability to tolerate the heat. Not only does cooling off take longer, but the liquor also acts as a diuretic, flushing out those hydrating necessities. And because of all that, you'll likely feel bloated and stuffy-headed.