Summer Health Essentials

Summer is synonymous with sun and outdoor fun yet the bright days and heat exposure can put us at risk of sunburn, dehydration, and swollen legs. Beat the heat this summer and stay healthy with these tips:

Stay Hydrated

Sun and heat can increase the risk of dehydration and heat stroke, especially for the very young, the elderly and those working outdoors. Stay hydrated by sipping on water throughout the day. If plain water is not your thing, then go for sparkling water. Look for a product that is free of sugar, artificial sweetener and sodium such as Nestle Pure Life Sparkling Water. Add some fresh fruit and enjoy the bubbles.

Be Sun Smart

If possible avoid going out on very hot days when the sun’s rays are the most intense, between 10am and 2pm. Seek shade whenever possible; sun tents and big trees can help to shield you from the sun.

Wear sunscreen whenever you are outdoors. There are two types to choose from: chemical and mineral products. Chemical products contain ingredients such as oxybenzone, avobenzone, octisalate, homosalate, and octinoxate. They work by absorbing and diffusing UV rays. They must be applied 20 minutes before going in the sun so that they can penetrate the layers of the skin. There are mounting concerns about the safety of these ingredients. The non-profit Environmental Working Group has assigned oxybenzone an 8 out of 10 on the hazard score because research shows that it is absorbed into the blood stream and can disrupt hormone levels and trigger allergic reactions.

Mineral products contain zinc oxide and/or titanium dioxide. They work by providing a physical barrier to the sun’s rays. They are effective as soon as they are applied. Zinc oxide is the best at blocking both UVA and UVB rays. Look for a product with clean, simple ingredients that provides a minimum SPF 30, water resistant and biodegradable, such as Badger Sport Cream. Reapply at least every two hours or after towelling off.

Leg Swelling

When the weather is hot, it can cause our blood vessels to dilate and that combined with being on your feet for prolonged periods can lead to swelling in the legs and feet, worsening of varicose veins and a feeling of heavy, tired legs. Improve leg health and reduce these uncomfortable symptoms by getting regular exercise, avoid standing in one spot for a long time, elevate your feet when at rest and consider taking Antistax, a supplement that contains red vine leaf extract which has been shown to improve lower leg blood flow, reduce swelling and relieve leg pain and heaviness.

Summer Supplements

When it comes to your supplement regimen, be sure to not ditch your vitamin D. While our bodies can make vitamin D through sun exposure, the Canadian Cancer Society has stated that the sun is not a safe source of vitamin D. Unprotected sun exposure increases the risk of burning, premature aging/wrinkling and skin cancer. With this in mind, get your vitamin D through foods and supplements. The best food sources include fatty fish, egg yolks, cheese and fortified cereals, however these foods only provide a fractional amount of vitamin D. For most people the only way to ensure adequate vitamin D intake is through supplements. There are many options to choose from: capsules, tablets, and even sprays. My top pick is Jamieson’s Vitamin D spray. It is convenient, highly absorbable and provides 1000 IU per spray.