The New Zealand Railways Magazine, Volume 13, Issue 11 (January 1, 1939)
“No, I don't enjoy the heat.”
“I can't bear hot weather.”
One feels sorry for people who have to make confessions such as these. They suffer real misery from headaches, heaviness, feverishness, during a heat wave. Too often, they regard such discomfort as unavoidable.
A little study of physiology, however, will convince them that hot weather conditions can be made bearable and even enjoyable. During the summer season, our bodies are most “alive,” developing, and building up reserves of strength in preparation for winter. The nerves, the ductless glands and the circulation function more actively. The body cells are broken down and rebuilt, and energy produced at a greater rate.
Consequently, there is a larger production of toxic matter, which must be got rid of through the usual channels. Failure of the body to cope with this extra elimination may cause a rise in blood pressure, feverishness or headaches.
How does the body cope with waste? A surprising quantity of toxins are got rid of from the lungs. Therefore deep breathing exercises are particularly valuable during the summer months.
The pores of the skin are more open during summer. To encourage the evaporation of perspiration, with consequent cooling of the body, clothing should be light and loose, preferably cellular in texture, so that air can circulate freely.
A daily tepid or warm bath, followed by a brisk towelling, removes the acid secretions which form a film over the skin. Salt water bathing is specially effective.
Exercise increases the flow of perspiration, but must be taken with discretion in very hot weather. Passivity in the heat of the day is best, but exercises in the morning and athletic activity, of not too strenuous a type, in the cooler part of the day, are beneficial. A certain amount of activity, especially walking, is essential to health.
Diet should undergo as radical a change as clothing. On hot days flesh page 58 foods are unnecessary. One should also avoid starchy foods — bread, pastry, porridge and potatoes. Rich fatty foods should be taboo. The diet adopted by white people living in a tropical climate is a good guide.
As the body may lose up to four pints of fluid on a hot day, it is essential to eat foods having a high water content. Tropical and semi-tropical fruits should be included as much as possible. Oranges, lemons, pineapples and grape-fruit are splendid for fruit meals and for drinks.
Prunes, dates, figs and bananas encourage intestinal elimination. The fruits of our temperate climes (apples, pears, etc.) contain much water and iron and phosphate salts which improve the blood and nerves.
Salad greens supply an added quantity of water to the diet and also assist bodily tone by their supplies of vitamins and mineral salts. The grated root vegetables, which add to the tastiness of salads, provide useful juices and the “bulk” which is so necessary in civilized diet.
Hot weather meals, then, should be carefully planned. Breakfast should be light, with fruit and cereals, or the cereal biscuits which are so much lighter on the digestion than bread. For lunch, the main dish may be a lettuce and egg or grated vegetable salad. Perhaps a cheese or nut savoury is desired as well. Cereal biscuits and butter will be found more satisfactory than bread. Dinner, served in the cool of the day, is the big meal. Serve several vegetables and a savoury dish. Light meats are best, and should be eaten sparingly. The meal should be topped off with a cold sweet or fruit, cooked or raw.
Fruit drinks should be taken frequently between meals. Cold drinks, and particularly iced drinks, should not be taken when one is overheated, as they affect the stomach and the smooth working of the digestive system. After a hot walk or a stiff set of tennis, the best drink is hot lemon, or hot tea with a slice of lemon. The hot liquid induces extra perspiration, the evaporation of which results presently in a feeling of coolness.
By simple health rules as to breathing, exercise, clothing and bathing, and by the planning of suitable light meals, the hot weather may be faced without fear. Summer may even become, because of its attractive diet, its delightful feeling of freedom given by a minimum of clothes, and the “holiday touch” about all spare time activities, the most enjoyable season of the year.