x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 22 January 2018

Ward off dehydration the Emirati way

What are the habits developed over centuries of desert living to prevent excessive loss of water?

Fresh fruits can help quench your thirst. iStockphoto
Fresh fruits can help quench your thirst. iStockphoto

Long ago, water was preserved in pottery to maintain its coolness, as there was no ice. Fruits such as sweet oranges, limes and mangoes were soaked in the cool water so they would become cold and refreshing. Also, the golden sugary date called rutab was consumed to provide energy for the body to give it the strength required.

Also in the old days, people would drink camel's milk to cool off and get energy. They would also drink buttermilk, and in most cases would slowly boil it to get a curd called chami. The chami would then be drizzled with melted animal ghee or butter and served with dates, with a pinch of cumin for flavour.

Such dairy products cooled the body off and provided the body with enough strength to go on with daily chores and duties.

For meals, Emiratis used to have dried fish, as it was light and easy on the stomach. They would also drench bread in buttermilk or yogurt to cool off. Some families would choose to sleep outdoors instead of inside in the rooms, as there would be more of a breeze.

What the doctor says

Spicy and overly seasoned food, lentil soup, caffeine, fizzy drinks and sodas should all be avoided in the summer's heat. According to Dr Mohammed Zaki Noureldin, a specialist in nutrition, such foods and drinks decrease water retention in the body and keep salts stored in the body. Also, they may lead to blocked pores.

"Drink cold water and fresh cold juices," he says, "so that the body will be compensated."

Some beverages, such as green tea, can cause excessive perspiration, causing the body to lose the mineral salts it needs. Noureldin says drinking a fruit cocktail made with pineapple, kiwi and lemon juice can help rehydrate the body.

He also recommends fresh orange juice, for the vitamin C and because it increases minerals that the body loses from sweating, and fresh lemon juice, which he says relaxes the nerves and body. Sugar in the juice of lemons and oranges also provides energy.

To help the liver detoxify the body of harmful salts, Noureldin advises drinking at least eight glasses of water a day.

"Avoid walking in the afternoon, between 1pm and 3pm," he says. "The heat causes the body to lose mineral salts and vitamins, and also causes over-sweating."