Each season brings its own kind of fun and enjoyment, but with these pluses also come a set of challenges. The arrival of summer is no exception. As the sun beats down and the airheats up, remember these 5 important tricks to help you stay safe and healthy this summer.
1. Stay hydrated, stay healthy. Water is essential to life, helping maintain a clear mind and working body. And because your body is roughly 70 percent water, it is necessary to maintain hydration levels by replenishing the water used by your body throughout the day. Mild dehydration produces symptoms including headache, decreased energy and urine/sweat output. Severe dehydration can lead to swelling of the brain, seizures, idney failure and even death. Although many people fail to drink enough water, it is also possible to over-hydrate. To avoid over-hydration while exercising in the summer sun, sip, don't chug. A general rule of thumb for how much water to drink is 1/2 your body weight in ounces. So, a 150 lb person would try for about 75 oz of water per day. If you're looking for some creative ways to take in more water, consider herbal, caffeine-free tea or foods high in water content such as watermelon and cucumbers. My favourite fruit water mixture is cutting up a few fresh organic strawberries and lemon and adding them with water to a pitcher. Keep refilling the water throughout the day, it is so refreshing.
2. Embrace safe and healthy sun exposure. The sun can actually be healthy for you. Think about it - throughout history, people have survived while spending significant amounts of their time outdoors, so why shouldn't we be able to also? Modern research has found that while excessive exposure to sunlight can increase the risk of certain types of skin cancer, moderate sun exposure is actually less dangerous than sporadic exposure. Research has also shown that sun exposure without sunburn may significantly decrease the risk of melanoma, one of the more deadly forms of skin cancer. Research has also shown a significant difference between the sun's UVA rays, which can have negative effects on the skin, and its UVB rays, which help your body produce necessary vitamin D. UVA rays are prominent at all times of the day, but UVB rays are specific to midday sunlight, still all UV radiation peaks at midday, so you should take precautions to avoid burning. Safe and healthy sun exposure is all about timing, exposure training and taking precautions to avoid sunburn. Go ahead and enjoy the summer sun, but protect your skin from sunburn using clothing, shade, and safe sunscreen.
3. Love your sunscreen. Sunscreen is important because the sun's UVA rays can damage skin. Some sunscreens prevent sunburn but not other types of skin damage, so it is important to make sure your sunscreen offers broad spectrum protection. Avoid sunscreen containing vitamin A, also called retinyl palmitate or retinol, as these may carry adverse health effects down the road. You should also avoid products containing oxybenzone, a synthetic estrogen that can disrupt your hormones. Instead, look for products containing zinc oxide, 3% avobensone or Mexoryl SX which will protect your skin from harmful UVA radiation. EWG's Best Sunscreens (http://www.ewg.org/2014sunscreen/) is an excellent guide to help you pick the right sunscreen for you. With information on some 700 SPF-rated products, high ratings are given to brands that provide broad spectrum, long-lasting protection using ingredients that carry fewer health concerns. You might also want to peruse your local natural grocery or drug store for natural, safe sunscreens.
4. Protect with clothing. Clothing is one of the best ways to protect your skin from sunburn. Wear a hat to protect your delicate scalp and face from over-exposure to sun. Remember your sunglasses. They aren't just a fashion accessory; they can also help protect your eyes from UV radiation which can cause cataracts. Wearing light-colored clothing will not only reflect the sun's rays, keeping you cooler than dark colors, but will also help limit bug bites and bee stings.
5. Repel bugs naturally. Bug bites not only itch, but they can also transmit potentially threatening diseases such as West Nile virus and Lyme disease. Choosing the right bug repellant for you is very important. DEET, a relatively common ingredient in synthetic bug repellants, can be toxic. Most recommend using DEET containing repellents sparingly, but why not eliminate the DEET altogether! The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends using repellents containing picaridin or lemon eucalyptus oil instead. In fact, natural repellents containing citronella work well also. Lavender essential oil is also recommended to ward of mosquitos. doTerra carries the essential oil blend Terra Shield that works well for repelling bugs naturally.
Photo Credit. FreeImages.com.
Water, The Essential Nutrient. DrWeil.com.
Dehydration Myths: 7 Things You Should Know About Staying Hydrated. The Huffington Post.
EWG's Best Sunscreens. The Environmental Working Group.
Top Sun Safety Tips. The Environmental Working Group.
Make Summer Safe for Kids. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
FAQ: Insect Repellent Use & Safety. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Watermelon has been around for at least several thousand years. Today, over four billion of watermelon are produced each year in the U.S. alone. All watermelon varieties, when ripe, contain an extremely high water content of roughly 92%, as well as a variety of different phytonutrients, key vitamins and minerals, and even dietary fiber. In general, watermelon is a coveted source of lycopene and the deeper-red-flesh varieties, at peak ripeness, contain the highest concentrations. Watermelons also contain a good deal of vitamin C, beta-carotene, citrulline, cucurbitacin E, flavonoids and phenolic antioxidants. The high concentrations of Lycopene and cucurbitacin E make watermelon an excellent anti-inflammatory food. Citrulline is turned into arginine within the body, which studies suggest may help fight against obesity. When enjoyed in large amounts, watermelon's fiber content can provide additional benefits with low calorie cost. Most people eat only the juicy flesh of the watermelon, but in reality, the seeds and rind are not only edible, but packed with nutrients in their own right. Watermelon seeds provide small amounts of iron, zinc and protein when consumed regularly over time. Seedless watermelons are products of hybridization and, up until the last decade, these varieties were relatively rare. Today, it is estimated that some 85% of all watermelons produced in the U.S. are seedless. Be aware of genetically modified seedless watermelon.
When purchasing watermelon of any variety, you will want it to be fully ripe as this will provide the most benefits for your health. When considering pre-cut watermelon, the most nutrient-rich option will be the one with the deepest red colored flesh without any white streaking. Choosing a whole, uncut watermelon is a bit trickier. Consider the weight of the watermelon. A fully ripened watermelon will feel heavy from high water content. You'll also want to feel the rind. You're looking for a relatively smooth rind that is slightly dulled on top (the side of the watermelon that was exposed to the elements), and that the bottom (the side that was lying on the ground) is not white or green, but more of a creamy yellow color. If you're still not sure you've found the watermelon you want, ask your grocer to core an uncut watermelon so that you can do a taste test. If you decide not to purchase it, they can still sell it sliced. Watermelon is also easy to grow in your own garden. For tips on growing watermelon, check out GardeningKnowHow.com.
Summer is a prime time for outdoor get-togethers, picnics, and cook-outs, but desserts are often heavy on the stomach, making them less than ideal for consumption in the summer heat. Soothe everyone's sweet tooth and nourish bodies after meals with this light and healthy dessert option that not only looks happily patriotic, but also refreshes the body and taste buds. This cake will serve approximately 12 people making it perfect for small get-togethers.
1 large watermelon
Coconut whipped cream
To begin, cut the rounded ends off of your watermelon. Next, cut off the rind of the watermelon, so that you are left with a cylinder shape of only the fruity center of the watermelon. Pat the watermelon with wipes to remove excess moisture and sit it up on one flat end. Next, frost the sides and top of the watermelon with whipped cream. Finally, decorate your cake by lightly pressing the almonds to the side of the frosted watermelon and covering the top with the fresh berries or other fruit of your choice. Keep the cake chilled until ready to serve, then cut slices just like you would with any other cake.
Bioflavonoids are polyphenolic compounds that can be found in plants, most abundantly in vitamin C-rich fruits and vegetables. Studies have shown bioflavonoids support strong cell growth and deliver an anti-carcinogenic effect. More study is needed, but current research suggests that bioflavonoids may help promote cardiovascular health, as well as potentially offer protection from neurodegenerative diseases such as Parkinson's disease and Alzheimer's disease. Relatively high intake of flavonoid-rich foods and beverages has also been suggested to improve the processes that take place within the blood vessels (vascular endothelial), in the short-term at least. It is possible, but not yet proven, that these short-term improvements may help in the long-term by reducing the risk of cardiovascular disease. When it comes to reducing the risk of cancer, consumption of flavonoid-rich foods may be helpful - but again, more study is needed. Bioflavonoids contain anti-inflammatory, antioxidant and metal-chelating properties, making bioflavonoid-rich foods a prime candidate for studies aimed at learning more about processes and function of the brain. Overall, whether it's because of the bioflavonoids, other nutrients, or a combination of all of their nutritious goodies, maintaining a rich diet that includes a variety of vegetables, fruits and legumes will undoubtedly help your body protect itself against disease. Additionally, you can supply your body with bioflavonoids from tea, red wine and soy.
Photo Credit. FreeDigitalPhotos.net.
Flavonoids. Linus Pauling Institute. Oregon State University.
The Bioavailability of Different Forms of Vitamin C (Ascorbic Acid). Linus Pauling Institute. Oregon State University.
A historic plant with origins dating back to ancient Greek mythology, and medicinal applications dating back to medieval monks, mint comes in hundreds of varieties. Some mint varieties, including peppermint, spearmint and chocolate mint, among others, are most often used for culinary purposes. Others, such as field mint, are more often valued for their therapeutic and medicinal qualities and used to treat ailments including headache, indigestion, heartburn, insomnia and gas. Still, some mint varieties are best used simply for their aroma or appearance. Corsican mint is one of the best known mint varieties and is most often used to make mint jelly to accompany a meal of lamb chops, but it also has medicinal properties. Corsican mint has calming, anti-spasmodic effects that helps reduce anxiety, stress and headaches. It can also be used as an anti-bacterial and anti-inflammatory. Its aroma, like that of most mints, will help calm the mind and relax the senses. Additionally, this mint has the ability to stimulate appetite and reduce gas. Topically, essential oil of Corsican mint can even help relieve pain and ease tension in muscles. Peppermint, another commonly used mint variety, has been found to help relieve symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome, asthma and nasal symptoms of colds related to allergies, and even to limit some bacterial and fungal growth. Nutritionally, peppermint is also a good source of manganese, copper and vitamin C.
There are many ways to enjoy mint. Try a cup of fresh mint tea, add some to a fruit salad, or add chopped mint leaves to soups that feature tomatoes. Fresh mints carry a superior flavor to dried mint and are better suited for culinary purposes. To store fresh mint leaves, carefully wrap them in a damp paper towel and place the pack inside a loosely closed plastic bag. If refrigerated this way, the leaves should keep for several days. Mints are fast-growing, aromatic herbs, which grow well in container gardens with moist, well-draining soil, set in full to partial sun. Many will also grow well indoors, making it possible to utilize mint year-round. For more tips on how to grow mint in your garden, check out GardeningKnowHow.com.
Photo credit. FreeDigitalPhotos.net.
Mint Plant Varieties: Types of Mint for the Garden. Gardening Know How.
Herb Fact Sheet: Mint. The Herb Society.
Peppermint. The World's Healthiest Foods.
Mud is an important natural element that has long been intuitively utilized by many animal species for its ability to cool and protect. For humans however, mud provides additional benefits. A study on the effects of soil-derived Mycobacierium vaccae on cancer patients found reports of better quality of life. Another study found the same bacterium to cause a serotonin elevation, suggesting mud's therapeutic use for depression. Mud from the sea floor that contains Salinispora tropica, has been shown to have antibiotic and cancer-fighting properties, and is currently in the trial phase as a possible treatment for a bone marrow cancer. Additionally, mud absorbs toxins from the skin, soothes skin conditions such as psoriasis, relaxes muscles, relieves inflammation, pain and stiff joints, stimulates circulation and improves the appearance of skin, reducing spots and patches.
Mud can be applied as a bath or a targeted mud pack. A mud pack is the easier and tidier option, and is relatively well suited for at-home use. However you treat your body with mud, it's important to choose your mud for the qualities that will produce desired results. Not all mud is created equal. The two best-known types of mud are mud from the Dead Sea and Moor mud. Mud from the Dead Sea contains more than 20 salts and minerals that have been coveted for their beautifying qualities since the times of the Queen of Sheba and Cleopatra. This particular mud is coveted worldwide for its use in treating symptoms of a variety of skin disorders, while also softening and cleansing skin. Moor Mud has been produced over thousands of years from organic residue and now contains fulvic acids, vitamins, amino acids, plant hormones and humic acids that can be easily absorbed by the human body. This mud is useful for detoxification and fighting off inflammation, making it an ideal treatment for arthritis symptoms and sports injuries.
Photo credit. FreeDigitalPhotos.net.
Mud Therapy Benefits. NaturopathyCure.com.
Mud is Not a Four-letter Word: A Took at the Upside of Dirt. Padro, Josie. Alive: Canada's Natural Health & Wellness Magazine. Jan 2009, Issue 315, p 78-79. 2p.