Stay Cool and Healthy: How to Beat the Heat Without Hurting Your Health

As temperatures rise during the summer months, it’s important to be aware of the potential health risks that come with the season. By understanding these hazards and taking preventative measures, you can enjoy the sunshine without compromising your well-being. Here are some summer health pitfalls to watch out for and tips on how to steer clear of them.

1. Don’t let junk food leave you burned

While most people know about the importance of guarding their skin from sunburn through shade, clothing, and sunscreen, fewer realize that their diet can also impact the vulnerability of their skin to UV radiation. Eating nutrient-dense, low-sugar foods can help protect against sunburns, whereas high-inflammatory foods like sugars, alcohol, processed foods, and trans-fats can impair our natural defenses.

To protect your skin, consume antioxidant-rich foods such as berries, pomegranates, mushrooms, tomatoes, green vegetables, unsweetened chocolate, sweet potatoes, green tea, and raw nuts and seeds. Additionally, omega-3 fatty acids found in flax and chia seeds, walnuts, and cold water fatty fish like salmon also help guard against burns and premature aging.

2. Choose the right sunglasses

When selecting a pair of sunglasses, make sure they provide adequate UV protection. Many inexpensive sunglasses don’t offer sufficient protection, and dark lenses can actually cause your pupils to dilate and let in more UV radiation, potentially damaging your retina. Be sure to pick sunglasses rated at UV 400.

3. Be mindful of your BBQ habits

Grilling is a popular summer pastime, but be aware that preparing meat at high temperatures can produce harmful compounds such as AGEs (Advanced Glycation End-products), which can negatively impact your health. Avoid using commercial BBQ sauces high in sugar, which can increase the production of these harmful chemicals.

Instead, marinate meats in antioxidant-rich spice mixes using ingredients like rosemary, ginger, garlic, or turmeric. This can limit the production of harmful compounds and enhance the overall health benefits and flavors of your meal.

4. Keep your fan use in check

Using a fan in an already hot room without access to cool outside air can make the situation worse, as it simply circulates hot air and prevents your body from cooling down. This can increase the risk of heatstroke, especially when sleeping. Be aware of your fan usage and try to avoid leaving it on in a sweltering room.

5. Limit your alcohol intake

Dehydration is a significant factor in heatstroke and can sneak up unnoticed. While summer gatherings can be a great time to enjoy a cold drink, be cautious about consuming too many alcoholic beverages. Stick to a one-drink limit in extreme heat and make sure to stay hydrated with plenty of water. Better yet, opt for hydrating non-alcoholic alternatives like watermelon juice or coconut water.

6. Don’t worsen sunburns with ice

While it might be tempting to cool down sunburned skin with ice or ice-cold water, doing so can cause your body to produce more heat, ultimately intensifying your burn. Instead, use cool water or a cool compress for relief, and save the ice for your drinks. Wait to apply oils or ointments until the redness of the burn has subsided, as topical remedies can irritate fresh sunburns.

Maintaining a balanced, inflammation-fighting diet can also benefit sunburn recovery. Incorporate supplements like modified citrus pectin, curcumin, omega-3s, and others to aid in reducing redness and promoting healthy skin.

Summer is a fantastic time to enjoy outdoor activities, quality family time, and a bountiful selection of fresh produce. By being aware of potential health risks and practicing consistent self-care and prevention, you can fully savor this sun-soaked season.