During heatwaves like the one we are going through, being in fresh areas, not going out during the central hours of the day and drinking lot of water (not iced water) is surely recommended. However, there are practices that are bad ideas, wrong beliefs and that you should avoid.
- I do not feel hungry so I do not eat. During periods of strong heat, it is recommended to eat foods with a high water content, such as strawberries (in Belgium we still have them and they are very good!), cucumbers, watermelon, melon, salad, courgettes, tomatoes and peppers. Everything that the summer season offers us. Nature always provide us with the best solution for every period of the year. You can also eat sorbets, yoghurt and white cheese. What you must avoid are fatty meals, because the digestion of fats involves an effort of the body that increases body temperature and consequently the perceived heat.
- Using the air conditioning at its maximum power. Using air conditioning is recommended but the temperature must be adjusted to a maximum of 10 degrees C lower than the outside one. Of course, if the outside temperature is 40 degrees C, 30 will be still a high temperature. However, a big gap between the outside and the insider temperatures weakens the body. And don’t forget to clean the filters.
- Drinking very hot drinks. A legend tells that people living in the desert use to drink very hot teas to fight the heat. However, this is not necessarily a good idea, actually it is what it is: a legend. The body temperature is around 37 degrees. Consuming a hotter drink would mean forcing the body to sweat and therefore going forward dehydration to eliminate the accumulated heats. Ideally, you should drink liquids between 12 and 14 degrees C.
- While sleeping, directing the fan to your face. A person who directs the fan towards the face in the morning will have dry nose, mouth and eyes. This is likely to give you a headache but you will definitely have a stuffy nose. It is recommended to put the fan a little further away from the bed and not to direct it to your face.
- Drink at least three litres of water a day. Actually, drinking a quantity of water between one and a half and two litres is more than enough. In case of over consumption the body will be forced to eject more through sweating or peeing, in this latter case overloading the kidneys.
- Nothing better than a beer to stay hydrated. Actually, alcohol dehydrates. If you drink a glass of beer, you must then drink water to compensate for the loss of water. Coffee and tea are also drinks that you do not want to drink too often for the same reason. Obviously, all carbonated and sugar-containing drinks are absolutely to be avoided.
- I wait for being thirsty before drinking. When you feel thirsty, it is already late. Your body is warning you that you have lost water. Experts recommend drinking small amounts of water often rather than a lot of water in a few moments of the day. It is important to keep the body hydrated throughout the day to avoid headaches, dizziness or feelings of fatigue.
And you, what habits have you adopted to fight heat waves like that one of this summer?