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Home Cover Features Beat the Heat!

Beat the Heat!

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The mercury is rising with a vengeance! It has been the hottest April in nearly a decade with temperatures rising abnormally. It is a clear sign of climate change hitting India and global warming taking its toll, with temperatures across India having already crossed the 40-degree mark. It doesn’t seem to get better any time soon. The city is sizzling hot with the day-time temperature touching record figures, the highest-ever in the last nine years.

The blistering heat is forcing citizens not to venture out leaving roads with a deserted look. With temperatures comparatively higher than usual for this time of the year, city physicians said there has been a rise in number of summer ailments. Cases of heat strokes, dehydration and gastroenteritis are being reported from different parts of the city in large numbers.

The energy of earth changes during each season according to its position towards the sun and these seasonal changes are reflected in nature as well as in the human body. As per macrobiotic philosophy taught by the ancient Zen masters and ayurvedic doctrines established by the old sages of India, it is suggested that we change our diets to stay in harmony with the changing seasons and also help combat the sweltering heat.

Due to increase in pollution the ozone layer is decreasing and therefore heat wave is increasing and summers are getting hotter and hotter day by day. According to a study, the effects of painting roofs white to reflect incoming solar rays were found to help cool cities and reduce the effects of global warming. Cities are particularly vulnerable to climate change because of a phenomenon known as the urban heat island effect. The asphalt roads, roofs, glass exteriors and other artificial surfaces that permeate cities absorb heat from the sun, making temperatures in urban areas on an average 1 to 3 degrees Celsius higher than in rural areas. White roofs could reflect some of that heat back to space and cool temperatures, because white surfaces reflect most of the light that hits them, while black surfaces absorb most of that light. It was suggested that, if every roof was entirely painted white, the urban heat island effect could be reduced by about a third. Such a reduction would cool the world’s cities by an average of about 0.4 degrees C, with the cooling influence more noticeable during the day, especially in the summer.

White roofs could also cool temperatures inside buildings, which could change the amount of energy used for space heating and air conditioning. This in turn could affect the consumption of fossil fuels, which generate many of the greenhouse gases responsible for Earth’s warming.

Come summer and you see a whole lot of make-shift juice points, bandis selling watermelon, coconut water, sugar cane juice, jaljeera, pudina and nimbu paani juices; people selling earthen pots; imported (!) sunglasses for Rs. 99; water drinking points set up by association in colonies; all these spring up across every bylane and main road in the city. All doing their bit in helping their fellow beings deal with the weather.

Venkatesh, who sells jaljeera, says, “This year business has been bad. It is ironic that what I have set up because of summer is not doing well because of summer. Very few people are venturing out.” He says he is barely able to break even with his expenditure every week. Says Abdul Razzak, who sells watermelon, “The heat is getting to us really bad. Unlike earlier summers, the fruits are getting spoilt within a couple of days due to the rise in temperatures. I just hope it cools down soon.”

So, what do the doctors have to say about combating this year’s unbearable once-in-a-decade scorching summer heat? Homeopathy or allopathy, home remedies or grandma’s tips; most of them are the same - drink, drink and drink more water and fluids. We spoke to an allopathy doctor and a homeopathy doctor to get their take on it. Here’s what they have to say.

Dr. Manoj Kuriakose is a renowned homeopathic physician of Hyderabad and has been making patients better for more than 18 years. Here are his suggestions.


  • Take plenty of liquids like water, fruit juices, coconut water, shakes, lime juice, butter milk etc.
  • Eat fruits like grapes and watermelon which keep your body cool and regulate the heat.
  • Eat fresh and green vegetables. Cucumber (green) salad is good.
  • Wear cotton clothes. Loose clothing is preferable.
  • Use sunglasses (UV protected).
  • Use caps and umbrellas.
  • Use hair moisturizers.
  • Use sun screen lotion
  • Use coolers or A/C at home and office.


  • Better to avoid heavy and fatty foods, especially those which are oily.
  • Non-vegetarian foods should be avoided.
  • Do not eat outside or street cooked foods.
  • Avoid travel between 1pm to 4 pm.
  • Don't drink cool water immediately after coming from outside, wait for a few minutes. Most people tend to drink cool drinks and due to the sudden change of temperature develop sore throat and fever.

Dr. M.S. Balraj, MBBS, MD, Consultant and General Physician is a well-known doctor in the twin cities, with an experience of more than 35 years. Here are his suggestions.

Cause for Sun Stroke:
Sun stroke is caused because body thermo regulatory system gets disturbed and body cannot take temperature which is more than 98 degrees F.

When we move out in summer, if we are not able to tolerate the heat, we may lose our body electrolytes and salts causing giddiness, thirst, restlessness, nausea, vomiting, leg pains, high fever, diarrhoea and unconsciousness. Blood pressure also becomes very low causing shock called sun stroke or heat stroke.

To avoid these complications we should follow certain precautions, listed as follows:

  • Take bath twice daily with a good moisturizing deodorant soap.
  • Use prickly heat powder all over the body as it contains starch which absorbs sweat; boric acid and zinc oxide acts as an anti-biotic, anti-fungal and protects from infection.
  • Wear cotton clothes, preferably white clothes which reflects heat.
  • Do not wear black, terlin, nylon, silk, terri cotton, woollen, polyester clothes which tend to generate heat.
  • Drink boiled and filtered cold water, 4-7 liters/day.
  • Use an umbrella while you are walking to protect yourself from the Sun and use cotton caps for children.
  • Bike riders can use handkerchiefs to cover their head before putting on a helmet.
  • Drink coconut water and fruit juices to keep your body hydrated.
  • Eat lots of watermelon, as it contains 95.8 % water, minerals, fiber and less % of carbohydrates.
  • Wear sun glasses to protect your eyes.
  • Drink citrus juices as these contain Vitamin C which acts as an anti-oxidant and immune modulator.
  • Apply coconut or castor oil to the scalp since it gives a nice cooling effect.
  • Use of curd and buttermilk in food gives cooling effect to the stomach since these contain pepsin, resin and hydro fluoride.
  • Drinking cold milk with rose petals helps keep the body cool.
  • Women and kids are recommended to have short hair to avoid heat and irritation.
  • Wear chappals or sandals instead of covered shoes.
  • Avoid eating spicy food, egg, chicken, fish and drinking alcohol.
  • Eat leafy vegetables, cucumber, onion and radish.
  • To avoid heat, visit cold places like Ooty, Shimla, Kulu Manali etc. for a summer holiday.

There’s nothing like having a nice cold sherbet (cool drink) to beat the heat. In the days of yore when there were no refrigerators, coolers, air conditioners etc., it was the good old home remedies that came to the rescue. Whether it was using wet cotton bed sheets on windows to cool the air that came in or storing water in earthen pots covered with a wet cloth or sprinkling water on the floors in the early evenings to cool it down by sleep time or drinking home-made drinks to keep your body cool; summers were always a time to stay indoors and play games.

My grand mom always told me to be away from the ice-golas, thandai and cold drinks sold outside not for want of money but as she says, “They are not as effective as what you have at home.” She says cold drinks available in market have various side effects and that the body temperature, which shoots up due to hot summers never comes down with the commercial cold drinks.

The ‘best solution’ for facing such hot summers can be prepared at home with a herb called hemidesmus indicus, which is also called as Indian sarasaparilla or nannari (in Ayurveda it goes by the name of ananthamoola or anantmula). This great herb has huge medicinal values and the plant’s roots are very useful for preparation of summer cold drinks.

Another one of her and my favourite is the aam ka panna. But there are a lot more than just that, which every grand mom would probably know like the Sherbets and Lassis, which are traditional Indian drinks. Authentic Indian drinks like Aam Ka Panna, Aam Ki Lassi, Badam Sherbet, Black Grape Sherbet, Gulaab-e-Aab, Imli Ka Amlana, Lassi Patiala, Lemon Sharbat, Mango Lassi, Mango Sherbet, Mango-Mint Lassi with Indian Sweet Spices, the classic Masala Buttermilk, Masala Soda, Orange Lassi, Orange Mint Cooler are just some of them.  

To make Aam Ka Panna, you would need two raw mangoes, two tsp cumin powder, one tsp crushed peppercorns, black salt to taste, some asafoetida and sugar. Wash the mangoes and boil them in the pressure cooker; let them cool down, peel the mangoes and then mash and strain the pulp in a bowl; put cumin powder, crushed peppercorns, black salt, asafoetida and sugar in it and mix well, till sugar is dissolved; divide the mixture into four glasses; fill them up with chilled water, stir and serve.

Mango-Mint Lassi with Indian Sweet Spices is another one that will leave you asking for more. You would need one large ripe mango (peeled, seeded and diced), three springs fresh mint for garnish, three tbsp brown sugar, two cups plain yogurt, two tbsp fresh mint (chopped), one tbsp lime juice, one tsp freshly grounded star anise and one tsp freshly grounded cardamom. Blend together mango, brown sugar, chopped mint, star anise, cardamom, lime juice and yogurt in a blender on high speed until smooth. Pour it into glasses and garnish them with fresh mint springs to serve.  

Gulaab-e-Aab is another coolant that not just kids, even adults, will like it. The ingredients that you would need are two tbsp rose syrup, four cups full cream milk, four malai burfi, half cup sugar, a few strands of saffron (kesar), half tsp green cardamom powder, 10 almonds (blanched and peeled) and 20 pistachios (blanched and peeled). In a pan, heat the milk and bring it to a boil; add sugar and heat till the sugar dissolves; set aside; add saffron to the milk and dissolve well; add green cardamom powder to the milk and mix well and set aside to cool; add rose syrup and refrigerate the milk; pour into glasses and top it with crushed malai burfi and then serve chilled, garnished with almonds and pistachios.

Khichadi and kadhi (yogurt soup), two light dishes from Gujarati home cooking and its varied versions across the country, are perfect for a summer meal. These humble dishes are rarely found in restaurants, but are served all over India in smaller places and consumed as everyday fare by many. Khichadi is made with brown rice and moong dal (split moong beans). Both ingredients are easy to digest and combine to make complete vegetarian protein. Khichadi is considered a humble dish because both brown rice and moong dal are inexpensive in India. However, it is so nourishing that it is also a good dish to break a fast and easy to digest. Kadhi is a great companion for khichadi in the summer since it hydrates and cools the body. Historical sources say that the word ‘curry’ originated from the British mispronunciation of the name of this dish!

To make kadhi you would need two tablespoons gram flour, two teacups fresh curds, one teaspoon chilli-ginger paste, two curry leaves, two tablespoons sugar, two tablespoons chopped coriander and salt to taste. For the tempering, keep aside half teaspoon cumin seeds, half teaspoon mustard seeds, a pinch of asafoetida, one red chilli broken into pieces and two teaspoons ghee. Mix the gram flour, curds and three teacups of water; mix it well; add the chilli-ginger paste, curry leaves, sugar and salt and put to boil; boil whilst stirring for a while; prepare the tempering by heating the ghee and frying the cumin and mustard seeds until they turn brown; add the asafoetida and red chilli; add the tempering to the kadhi and boil for a few minutes and then sprinkle coriander on top and serve hot.

Khichadi is one of the easiest dishes to make. Take 200 gms soaked rice, 50 gms soaked moong dal, 50 gms soaked masur dal, four large onions, four garlic flakes (minced), one ginger (minced), two potatoes, two tsp turmeric powder, two tsp red chilli powder, two tsp garam masala, green chillies and oil for frying. Peel the potatoes and cut into pieces; chop the onions and green chillies; heat the oil and fry chopped onions till it turns brown; add minced garlic, ginger and green chillies; mix garam masala and fry for three minutes; pour warm water and add moong dal; add masur dal and rice after 10 minutes; add potatoes and salt; cook over medium heat till it gets cooked; serve hot with curd and pickle.

No one wants to be stuck in the kitchen on a hot day. So take a look at these tips and give the kids a cheap and fast supper while you beat the heat. Salads also are not only a great way to beat the summer heat but are cheap and fast to make.

No matter where you live, the energy crunch will affect you all over the summer. The most important thing to remember is to listen to your body!

  • Schedule physically strenuous activities for cooler times. Walking around in the heat and humidity can make all parts of your body sweat including your feet.
  • Dress in light, loose, cotton clothing. Loose fitting clothes allow air to circulate, keeping you cooler.
  • Protective hats keep the sun out of your eyes and provide some cooling shade.
  • Use sunscreen creams and lotions. Don't forget your lips, ears and back of the neck.
  • When working outside, take periodic rest breaks in a cool area.
  • Drink, drink, drink, water and non-alcoholic drinks!! Don't wait till you feel thirsty, stay hydrated.
  • Avoid alcohol and caffeine, which are diuretics i.e. substances that increase water loss via the urine.
  • Be extra cautious in the sun/heat if you have diabetes, high blood pressure or other medical conditions. Be extra careful if you are taking any medications. For instance, certain medications may make you sun burn more easily, so be sure to protect yourself and stay out of the sun as much as possible.
  • Keep cool with fans, air conditioning and cool baths or showers. Make your own air conditioner by placing a bowl of ice in front of a fan and letting it blow on you. Window fans work best when blowing air out so put your fan on the sunny side of the apartment and let it expel the hot air while pulling cool air from open windows on the shady side.
  • Keep shades or curtains pulled on the sunny side of the house.
  • Get plenty of sleep and eat light, nutritious and non-fatty meals. Eat foods high in water content, like fruits and vegetables.

Water is most important to people and it is highly essential, especially so this summer, that you drink enough water to maintain a good hydration, keeping your body healthy and fit. If you are unsure of the water you want to use, then first boil it or filter it, to make sure any bacteria is destroyed. Drinking water should become a habit; it has to be the number one liquid you drink. It helps keep the skin natural and pure, removes toxic elements and strengthens your body in such a way that you feel fit and active again.

No matter what you do, be safe and take care, this summer! 

Month: May 2010.

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