Naturopathic tips to stay cool and healthy in a heatwave
Naturopathic tips to stay cool and healthy in a heatwave
As Brits, we tend to complain about the weather. We complain when it’s too cold in the Summer, and then boom! We’re hit with a sudden heatwave, and we don’t know what to do with ourselves.
Like most extreme weather conditions, we are not prepared for the heat, and it takes us by surprise. It doesn’t help that we design our house to retain the heat through the Winter with loft insulation, thick carpets and curtains. So during a hot spell, we have few cool places to go.
So what can we do to stay cool, stay hydrated and stay healthy? Here are my top tips to help you navigate your way coolly and healthily through the sweltering days.
Cold Water Applications
In hydrotherapy, a short cold application of less than one minute stimulates the circulation briefly and then results in a dilation of the blood vessels, allowing heat to escape. It is incorrect to assume a longer term exposure to cold is helpful, as this actually has the opposite effect and depresses the circulation.
Start by bathing feet in cold water (such as a washing up bowl) NOT freezing cold with ice, as this may be too much of a shock to the body, especially for the elderly or infirm. Use cold water from a tap.
If brave enough – try ending your shower with cold water. It’s not as challenging as you may think, and in the heat may be very welcome! But remember to keep it short- 30 – 60 seconds maximum.
If a complete short cold shower seems too much, then running a cold shower up the outside and down the inside of the lower legs is very effective. Run the shower across the soles of the feet, and finish by running the shower back and forth above the knees. Dry between the toes but don’t dry the legs as the exposure to the air will cool the body quicker.
Cold Damp Flannel
For those with a weaker constitution, using a damp cold flannel (not from the freezer but under the tap) across the forehead will instantly cool the body. Repeat every five minutes, as the flannel will quickly heat up. Avoid using a cloth from the freezer as the change in temperature can be a shock to the body.
Why not relax with cool cucumber slices on your eyes? It has a natural anti-inflammatory and cooling effect to your eyes.
Drink a hot herbal tea
A hot drink can have the same effect as a short cold water application. It may initially raise your core body temperature, but as it is such a short time span, it then encourages the dilation of blood vessels, encourages the body to sweat and therefore cool the body temperature down.
Avoid caffeinated drinks
Caffeine acts as a stimulant to the body, which will seek to raise body temperature. To avoid an additional heat load on the body, choose natural herbal teas which are caffeine free. This means avoiding normal black tea, green tea, coffee and colas.
There are a multitude of herbal and fruit teas to choose from. Redbush tea is popular amongst tea lovers (and is naturally caffeine free). Remember that green tea does not count as a “herbal tea” due to its caffeine properties.
Sipping fluids throughout the day
Avoid going for long gaps between drinks. Aim for little and often. It can be dangerous to consume a large amount of fluid in one go, as this can dilute the delicate electrolyte balance of minerals and salts. As a general rule, you probably need to increase your normal fluid intake by up to 1L per day. This may mean you consume up to 3L of fluid a day. This includes all your fluids: water and hot drinks.
Check the colour of your urine
You can check the colour of your urine to see if you are dehydrated or not. Urine should be a pale straw colour (unless you take B vitamins or eat a lot of beetroots which can change the colour). If it starts to become a dark yellow, it is a sign that you’re not drinking enough.
Add salt to your water
It is a mistake and potentially dangerous to just focus on fluid intake. Increasing fluid intake without increasing salts can result in your electrolytes becoming too depleted in the blood. Electrolytes are minerals like sodium, potassium and chloride. They have an important role to play in managing your blood pressure, keeping your heart beating regularly, transmitting nerve impulses and keeping the fluid levels correct in cells and tissues.
When it is hot, and you sweat more, add a pinch of salts- I like Himalayan salts for its mineral balance- to your water and/or to your food.
Move more slowly
It’s no surprise, when it’s hot, we want to move and do less. Listen to your body and avoid strenuous activity – as much as you can, as it can raise your body temperature. Do gentle movement in the shade, as this helps to keep the blood and lymph flowing well… Go for early or late walks to avoid the heat of the sun or movement around the house. This is not the time for a long run!
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