MILAN – How can we best deal with the transition to summer, from the point of view of nutrition? Which foods are most recommended? What is the best type of mineral water to choose? Dr. Samantha Biale, journalist, nutritionist, leading Italian diet coach and author of “La dieta B factor” [the B-factor diet] (Sperling&Kupfer), reveals the top secrets of how to welcome in the spring.
In the transition from winter to spring, how does our body clock change?
With the changing of the seasons, nature is reborn in an explosion of life and our bodies, just like any other year, have to adapt to it. We experience this as exhaustion, drowsiness, difficulty in concentrating, mood swings and anxiety. This is the so-called “spring fever”; a syndrome widely-recognised by medical science as being caused by the lengthening of the daylight hours and a rise in temperature, inducing dramatic changes in the brain and hormone levels. Our bodies, even if we are not aware of it, are especially engaged in a kind of ‘reawakening’ which makes us more active: the nervous system is in an enhanced state of vigilance and alertness in comparison with the circadian rhythms typical of the cold season and the endocrine system produces hormonal variations which prepare us for the change. To bridge this gap, we need to allow ourselves at least two weeks to adapt, which can vary from person to person.
What will change in our dietary needs?
The most “active” organ, but also the most sensitive in this season is the liver, which has the task of detoxifying, giving the body more vitality, power and energy. This springtime reawakening, therefore, requires us to facilitate the elimination of toxins with the right diet, specifically:
- Cutting out refined sugar, caffeine, white bread and other refined carbohydrates, meat and sausages.
- Eating more whole grains, vegetables (including soya-based products), fish, fresh cheeses and vegetables in season.
- Steaming and lightly stir-frying food with a drizzle of oil.
Keeping yourself adequately hydrated can help your body during this transition? Why?
Given that our bodies are composed of at least 65% water, drinking enough to replace the reserves continually being lost through body fluids, perspiration and the breath ought to be our daily priority. Moreover, during this period, the rise in temperature causes major water loss. Unfortunately, for most of us, it does not work out like that. According to Dr. Fereydoon Batmanghelidj, author of various books on the topic of ‘You’re not sick, you’re thirsty!’, most of our diseases stem from, or are in some way aggravated by a profound state of dehydration, which we are not aware of. What with hard days at work, travelling and obligations, we never remember to drink enough and live our whole lives on the verge of dehydration. The ideal daily water intake is around 1 litre for every 25 kilos of bodyweight, with the possibility of topping up gradually throughout the day, so that our bodies always have what they need.
Varying the types of water we drink and therefore our intake of salts and trace elements is a useful practice in this sense?
There is no one single water suitable for any and every occasion. Even for a product as simple as this, you must read the label carefully to make sure you make the right choice. Learning to understand this is the only way to find out the essential characteristics. The “total dissolved solids", representing the total mineral content, are the first criteria to look out for.
- If there is less than 50 mg/litre, this is water which is ‘least mineralised’, low in salts and highly diuretic. Specified in the treatment of kidney stones and advised for women in the fight against cellulite and water retention.
- Between 50 and 500 mg/litre, there is ‘low mineral content’; also diuretic, but with slightly more “flavour”, as this content is gradually approaching the maximum limit.
- If they reach 500 and 1500 mg/l, this is considered as a ‘mineral water’; perfect for summer, or if you do a lot of sport because it restores the salts lost through perspiration.
- If they exceed 1500 mg/l, this is water which is ‘rich in mineral salts’, with a definite flavour due to its high content of calcium, sodium, magnesium and other elements. This is not suitable for daily use, unless recommended by a doctor and over a limited period.