Unless you plan on staying cooped up in the air conditioning for the next three months, summer is a time for fun, sun, and, especially, safety. While you may be (and should be) aware of the importance of sunscreen, here’s another serious “dog days” issue you need to watch out for: heat exhaustion and sunstroke.
Sunstroke is a very serious illness that is considered a medical emergency, and it can kill or cause damage to vital organs. Heat exhaustion, a heart-related illness, is not as life-threatening as sunstroke, but is still dangerous.
Both heat exhaustion and sunstroke are associated with severe dehydration and long exposure to high temperatures. The number one way to stay hydrated, of course, is to drink plenty of fluids. We spoke to a panel of doctors and nutritionists and compiled a list of foods and drinks, including the most important one — water — that can help you avoid dehydration, heat exhaustion, and sunstroke. These foods — mostly fruits and vegetables — have high water content and are rich in electrolytes or other essential nutrients that can be lost when the body becomes overheated.
Before we get to the list of “do’s,” here is a compilation of “don’ts.” According to Dr. Mark Sherwood, a naturopathic doctor who runs a health and wellness clinic, if you’re going to be spending time in scorching temperatures, avoid drinking alcohol, coffee, tea, and anything caffeinated, because caffeine is a diuretic.
It’s also important to remember that eating or drinking correctly cannot actually prevent or treat heat stroke or heat exhaustion, which should be treated as serious illnesses, according to Janet Little, a certified nutritionist at Sprouts Farmers Market. Instead, staying hydrated and getting the correct amount of nutrients can help you prepare for the stifling summer heat and avoid any serious problems.
“Foods with high water contents are best for days that you spend outside,” says Shane Allen, a certified personal trainer and sports nutritionist. So that means that an apple (or more) a day could keep heat exhaustion at bay.
When you’re spending time in the sun, it’s important to consume foods that are high in electrolytes and potassium, says Dr. Sherwood. Artichokes are rich in both. But here’s the catch: All of these foods on this list, including artichokes, are better eaten raw. When cooked, artichokes can lose some of their nutrient potency.