5 Tips to stay healthy this summer from Womans Health Magazine
1. DRINK WATER
‘You’ve heard it a million times before, but I can't emphasize enough how important it is to keep well hydrated, especially during the warm summer months,’ says Dr Jones.
This is especially important when Pimms o'clock rolls round. 'Alcohol is dehydrating - it acts on the kidneys to inhibit a hormone called anti-diuretic hormone (ADH), and is the reason why you need to go to the toilet so frequently when you drink.’
To avoid dehydration (and standing in line for the park loos every hour), Dr Jones recommends matching each alcoholic beverage with a glass of water. Another top tip? Keep an eye on the colour of your urine. ‘It should be pale and straw-coloured, so if you notice it becoming darker, up your water intake. Don’t wait until you are thirsty as this may be a sign that your body is already dehydrated and can impact on many aspects of your health, most noticeably your energy levels.’ Low energy = total summer downer. Want a healthier alternative to your regular cider in the park? Try one of these tasty mocktail recipes instead.
2. EAT SEASONALLY
'Seasonal, local produce is grown, picked and eaten at its peak and therefore contains optimal levels of health-boosting vitamins, minerals and trace elements,’ explains Dr Jones. Clever Mother Nature, eh?
‘This is in contrast to produce that has been picked before ripening, air-freighted halfway around the world, and then sat in storage (sometimes for months) before eventually making it to the supermarket shelves.’
There’s plenty of amazing fruit and vegetables in season in the UK this summer. Here at WH, we're currently munching on broad beans, corn, peas, figs, beetroot, courgettes, strawberries, cherries and blackberries, to name a few. Trip to your local farmer's market this weekend it is then!
Fancy a grilled peach and strawberry salad? How about a strawberry and coconut ice lolly? Get fruity with our best strawberry recipes.
3. KEEP ACTIVE
There is no better time than summer to pull on the trainers, get outside and get active. 'It doesn't have to be the kind that leaves you exhausted or sweaty,' says Dr Jones.
'A brisk walk in the park, a family cycle, or a gentle swim will elevate your heart rate and boost your circulation. Not only is it fantastic for your physical health, regular exercise can also boost the production of feel-good endorphins, and has been proven to reduce stress, boost self-esteem, help relieve depression, and improve sleep.'
But you already knew all that, right? Of course you did!
Get inspired to take your workout outside with our outdoors fitness guide.
4. GET SOME SUNSHINE
It's thought that 50% of the UK population may be vitamin D deficient. Why does this matter? 'Vitamin D has known roles in immunity, bone, skin and muscle health, blood pressure regulation, and memory. Vitamin D deficiency has also been closely linked to several mental health conditions including depression,' says Dr Jones. Yikes.
The best way to get Vitamin D is through exposing the bare skin to ultraviolet rays in sunlight, so take advantage of those (rare!) sunny days whenever you can. 'You don’t need to burn or tan you skin to get Vitamin D, just ensure you get at least 10 minutes of sun on the hands, face and arms 2-3 times a week (without sunscreen).' Just make sure you take the usual skin precautions and wear the right SPF for your skin type.
Sun gone into hiding? No problem - just snack on a red pepper instead! 'There is some evidence to suggest that foods rich in the powerful carotenoid lycopene, which has skin-protective properties, may provide an extra tool in sun protection. Lycopene is found primarily in tomatoes and tomato based products such as juice and puree, as well as red peppers, watermelon and papaya.' Sweet!
5. IMMUNE SUPPORT FOR HAY FEVER SUFFERERS
For the 25% of the population who suffer from hay fever, summer can be miserable. Sneezing, watery discharge from the nose and eyes, itchiness in the eyes and throat, fatigue - not pretty.
'High pollen levels trigger the release of pro-inflammatory histamine from the immune cells, initiating increased mucus production and the dilation of blood vessels which can lead to these uncomfortable symptoms,' explains Dr Jones. Yuck.
The standard treatment for hay fever is over the counter medications, like antihistamines, corticosteroids and nasal decongestants. But according to Dr Jones, you may be able to reduce excess histamine and inflammation by changing your diet. 'Vitamin C has anti-histamine and anti-inflammatory properties and can be found in citrus fruits, parsley and green leafy vegetables. Quercetin, found in onions and garlic, is another powerful anti-inflammatory that inhibits histamine release. It may also be beneficial to up your intake of anti-inflammatory omega-3 fats, found in oily fish, chia seeds and flaxseed.'