Eating Fresh Fruits and Vegetables Can Help You Beat the Summer Heat and Avoid Dehydration and Heat Exhaustion

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There's a lot to love about summer—warm weather, long days and all that outdoor time with loved ones. Unfortunately, the season also poses risks, especially if you have diabetes. All that sun, heat and humidity can cause dehydration and heat exhaustion.

Symptoms of heat exhaustion include

  • dizziness
  • excessive sweating
  • muscle cramps
  • headache
  • rapid heartbeat
  • nausea

If left untreated, heat exhaustion can escalate into heatstroke, a potentially life-threatening condition that requires a doctor's attention.

If you have diabetes, good nutrition can help keep you safe from heat-related ailments. In addition to seeking shade instead of direct sun and avoiding strenuous physical activity during the hottest hours of the day, keep yourself safe by drinking sugar- and caffeine-free fluids throughout the day and stock up on fresh produce.

The season's delicious bounty will help you:

  • Hydrate with fresh fruit Summer is the peak season for refreshing and replenishing melons, berries, peaches and nectarines. Their high water content will help cool you down even on the hottest days.
  • Stay energized with good carbs Carbohydrates have gotten such a bad rap lately, you may believe you have to steer clear of fruit. Nothing could be further from the truth. Carbohydrates are your body's main source of energy, and you can safely eat a serving (one medium piece of fruit or 1/2 cup of melon or berries) per day. That means you can enjoy, for instance, 1/2 cup juicy watermelon (5.5 g carbohydrates); a medium peach (14.5 g), 1/2 cup sweet-tart blackberries and raspberries (7 g) and other summer fruits.
  • Protect yourself with vitamins and antioxidants Summer fruits—and vegetables like arugula, cucumbers, zucchini and squash—are also great sources of vitamins C and A. Vitamin C is a powerful antioxidant that helps combat the adverse effects of free radicals from sun exposure, pollution (like grill smoke) and some processed foods. Vitamin A is essential for maintaining healthy skin. In addition, red fruits such as watermelon and tomatoes are rich sources of the antioxidant lycopene, shown in a recent University of Manchester study to help protect against sunburn damage.

Written by: Christine Gerbstadt, M.D., R.D. From our sister publication, Diabetes Focus (Summer 2011)

Publication Review By: the Editorial Staff at

Published: 11 May 2011

Last Modified: 11 Sep 2015