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Summer is the time to be outside having fun and being active: spending long days at the beach, drinking beers and flipping burgers on the grill, walking around an amusement park or playing backyard games. The only downside to having too much summer fun is physical exhaustion and dehydration. The hot summer sun can zap energy and nutrients from the body and, in some cases, it can be quite dangerous.
Lucky for us, there are foods and drinks that can help our bodies recover, making us feel good and lively for the next awesome summer activity.
First and foremost, look for food high in water content to stave off dehydration. Foods high in potassium, electrolytes, and, in many cases, a little sugar and simple carbohydrates will also help jump start your system back to life. And of course don't forget to drink plenty of water.
It should be noted that heat exhaustion and heat stoke are serious and should be dealt with immediately. If you find that you or loved ones are nauseous, have a headache or are even the slightest bit dizzy, stop what you are doing and make an effort to escape the heat. If you don’t feel better after 30 minutes, it is suggested you contact your doctor to avoid heat stroke.
At roughly 95% water, cucumbers are one of the most hydrating veggies out there. Eat them dipped in hummus, sliced in salads, mixed into a cooling yogurt sauce or starring in a refreshing agua fresca. For a hydration double whammy, pair cucumbers with watermelon and salty feta in a delightful summer salad.
Cool down with banana “ice cream” — no sugar or dairy added, just 100% banana. Bananas are high in potassium, a mineral important in muscle function. When the body is low on potassium, the body’s muscles will cramp, especially if dehydrated. Eat a banana before heading outside, or eat one directly after your activity for the best results.
Many athletes are already clued into the fact that chocolate milk is an amazing recovery tool post-workout. “It performed as well as Gatorade and almost twice as well as another sports recovery drink,” according to a study from Indiana University. This is because chocolate milk hits the perfect ratio of simple carbohydrates, sugars and proteins that can penetrate the system fast to replace the lost nutrients. Serve your chocolate milk over ice with a generous sprinkle of salt. The salt will encourage your body to drink more while also making the chocolate milk taste extra delicious.
Coconut water is a great recovery option because of its awesome hydrating properties and levels of electrolytes and potassium. The natural simple sugars and digestible carbohydrates allow coconut water to refresh your system quick. (Pssst, it’s great at relieving hangovers, too!) Enjoy coconut water on its own or in a smoothie packed with other great recovery foods.
Watermelon is 92% water, high in electrolytes and contains antioxidants and vitamin A, all of which make it an ideal recovery food on a hot day. Eating watermelon will not only keep you on your feet, but it is a tasty way to stay hydrated. Whether you want to dig into some fresh slices or you prefer your watermelon in slushie form, frozen into a popsicle, mixed into a salsa or even grilled, there's no going wrong with this refreshing fruit.
It’s important to eat protein to begin to repair muscles, especially after strenuous activities like hiking or swimming. When we use our muscles, we create micro-tears that only repair themselves post-exertion with the help of protein. Poultry, nuts, beef, eggs, fish, legumes and yogurt are good foods to consume to reinvigorate the body and muscles. For more inspiration, consider enjoying protein packed breakfasts that aren't eggs any time of day.
In addition to the specific foods we've already called out, there are a number of other nutritious and hydrating produce options that will help your body recover from a day in the sun. Celery, bell peppers, pineapple, melons, peaches, zucchini, berries and even cauliflower are all actually composed largely of water. And, while an ice cold beer or cocktail may sound appealing on a hot day, it's best to stay away from dehydrating alcoholic drinks and mix up some nutritious smoothies or mocktails everyone will love.
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