“Safe summer, how to beat the heat” is the theme of the meeting on 14 July at Spazio Donna – Expo Milano, organized by the Ministry of Health to talk about the prevention of the effects of heat waves , also with reference to proper nutrition.
Italy was one of the first countries in Europe to have activated, as early as 2004, a national plan of interventions for the prevention of health effects from heat waves. The starting point of the plan is the activation of the system national forecast-alarm for heat waves, which involves 27 cities and makes it possible to know, at least 72 hours in advance, the arrival of a climatic situation at risk for health. Other important components are: activation of the rapid daily monitoring and surveillance system for heat-related mortality and morbidity; the identification on the territory of the most “fragile” people to whom prevention interventions should be directed as a priority (based on the levels of climate risk and the risk profile of the exposed population); the definition of local prevention plans developed on the basis of the guidelines issued by the Ministry of Health and finally, the information and communication campaign “Safe summer – how to win the heat”.
General practitioners, health workers in institutions for the elderly and brochures aimed at carers, translated into six languages (English, French, Spanish, Romanian, Russian and Polish). The National Heat Wave Prevention Plan, managed and coordinated by the Health Prevention Directorate General of the Ministry of Health, with the technical support of the CCM, currently represents the only concrete example in public health of an adaptation strategy for climatic events.
Finally, here are ten precious tips for a correct and safe diet in summer, a period accompanied by more free time, with different eating habits compared to the rest of the year: greater number of meals outside the home, little attention to nutritional intake, fewer formalities. Drinking and eating right helps to cope with the heat and reduce the health risks of heat waves, especially dehydration. When it is very hot, children, pregnant women and the elderly can suffer more and be more at risk of dehydration.
- Drink at least two liters (eight glasses) of water per day. In the summer, minerals are lost with increased sweating and perspiration. For the elderly, it is particularly important to drink, regardless of the stimulus of thirst. Children need to drink more. Moderate the consumption of drinks with added sugars. Limit the consumption of moderately alcoholic beverages such as wine and beer. Avoid drinks that are high in alcohol.
- Respect daily the number and times of meals, especially breakfast, which must be preferred over other meals . Breakfast is the most important meal of the day, it comes after the longest fasting period within 24 hours and provides the “fuel” for the whole day. Not consuming an adequate breakfast also predisposes to a greater intake of calories in the following hours.
- Increase your consumption of seasonal fruit and vegetables and yogurt . Eat fresh seasonal fruits and vegetables (at least 400g per day, WHO). Prefer yogurt with no added sugar. Together with fruit, it can become an excellent snack. Do not neglect dried fruit (almonds, walnuts, etc.), rich in “good” fats, minerals and fibers, but do not overdo it, because it brings calories.
- Prepare the dishes with imagination, varying the food even in colors. The color of foods is given by substances with antioxidant action (vitamins, polyphenols, etc.): the more the colors are varied, the more complete their intake is.
- Moderate the consumption of elaborate and high-fat dishes . With heat, the body consumes less energy. , also reducing the amount of salt to be added during preparation. Season with raw olive oil.
- Choose fresh, easily digestible and water-rich foods and complete the meal with fruit. This rule must be followed in particular when having a packed lunch, not exaggerating with salty or sugary snacks.
- Consuming an ice cream or smoothie can be an alternative to a mid-day meal . The ice cream or milk shake that replaces the meal should be included in the daily nutritional intake.
- Avoid complete meals with first, second and side dishes when, during stays in a hotel or while traveling, it is easier to eat both lunch and dinner at the restaurant . On either occasion, opt for balanced single dishes that can provide the nutrients of an entire meal.
- Consume a little salt and prefer iodized salt . Iodine deficiency is still a problem: the thyroid affects many body functions and needs the right