- Dr. Nadia Mawji, ND
6 ways to take care of yourself this summer
Summer is here! For most people, the summer brings a different outlook on life – seasonal fruits (yummy!), lots of sunshine, more fun activities outdoors with friends and family, picnics on the beach, music festivals, and SO MUCH MORE!! Although living in a place like Calgary may teach us to enjoy the winter months, we all look forward to the summer for so many reasons. Summer changes our mood from the gloomy short dark days of winter to the sunny and longer days of summer – it changes us inside and out!
Here are some quick tips to ensure that you can enjoy the summer to your fullest potential:
Hydration – Everything from preventing a dehydration spell to keeping your skin beautifully moisturized – the answer is H20! Taking the time to hydrate yourself, with added electrolytes if necessary, is really important to ensure you can better tolerate the heat. Are you that person that tends to get a headache in the afternoons, regardless of the weather? Well, that could be due to dehydration. Carrying a water bottle with you at all times is a great way to make sure you get enough water! Even better, you can freeze your water bottle overnight in a freeze-resistant non-plastic bottle, so you have an endless supply of refreshing coolness to help you get through your day.
Sunscreen – If you are spending any amount of time outside, wear sunscreen. The incidence of skin cancer (malignant melanoma) in men and women in North America, under 30 years of age is high. It’s not worth the risk – save your skin with a good all-natural sunscreen to protect your skin from early aging and well, the very worst case scenario – cancer.
Foods High in Antioxidants – Why are antioxidants so important? Our bodies make a lot of free radicals. Free radicals lead to oxidative stress and if left alone, cause disease through a variety of mechanisms. Antioxidants negate the effects of free radicals and prevent them from being able to cause damage to the body. The summer is a great season to get all of those delicious fruits into your diet by making a smoothie, homemade popsicles or just plain eating them. High-antioxidant foods include: cherries, cranberries, blueberries, DARK unsweetened chocolate, goji berries, greens, mangoes, watermelon and the list goes on...
Sleep – Patio nights, evening barbeques, bonfires – all a ton of fun in the summer! Sleep plays a huge factor in modulating your immune system long-term. Get the sleep you need, even if it means sleeping in occasionally...you know how much your body needs!
Nutritional Energy: Protein, Healthy Fats – Like antioxidants, our body needs GOOD food. Protein is required by every function that our body carries out. The molecules in our immune system and the neurotransmitters in our brain are derived from protein. We need good sources of protein. Protein is useful in that it helps prevent insulin spikes in our blood, which would normally lead to sugar cravings. I like to have some type of protein with every meal and snack. Healthy fats are important for brain function. If you ever took biology, you would know that our cell membranes are made from a phospholipid bilayer (lipid = fat) – we need good fats in order to function. Healthy fats include – avocados, coconut oil, olive oil, nuts and seed butters. Proteins and healthy fats provide us with an increased sense of energy and satiety – you feel fuller, longer!
Exercise – This is hard to avoid during the summer months, but try to stay active with fun outdoor activities, so you can get some Vitamin D and reap all of the benefits of summer. If it’s too hot outside, enjoy a nice indoor work out, but keep moving!
Enjoy your summer!!