Summer is a great time to have fun, relax, and celebrate the outdoors. Here are a few tips to keep you and your family naturally healthy during these hot and sunny months.
Wear a QUALITY Sunscreen
Buyer Beware–Not all sunscreens are created equal! The Environmental Working Group (EWG) recently released its 9th annual Sunscreen Guide and 235 beach and sport sunscreens currently on the market made the cut. Check out their recommendations at http://www.ewg.org/2015sunscreen/. In addition to looking at the ingredients of sunscreens for possible harmful effects (including oxybenzone and retinyl palmitate), there is increased evidence that spray sunscreens can be especially harmful as they can be inhaled into the lungs and cause inflammation. Be sure to avoid these for small children! Alternatives to sunscreen include finding or making shade, wearing clothes that cover well, plan outdoor activities in the early morning or late afternoon. These will dramatically decrease the exposure time to harmful direct UV rays.
Let’s be honest, you already know that exercise is good for you. Not only does exercise combat weight gain, but it fights fatigue, improves your mood, promotes better sleep and decreases your risk for developing serious chronic diseases. Take advantage of the longer days of light and get moving! You have nothing (but weight) to lose!
Wondering how much water to drink? A good rule of thumb is to drink one-third of your body weight in ounces per day. For example, a 150 lb. person should aim for at least 50 ounces daily. Make sure to add an extra 8 ounces for every 15 minutes of strenuous physical activity or for any caffeinated beverage (like coffee!) since caffeine tends to be a diuretic. Sometimes adding a splash of juice or an electrolyte tablet or powder package to your water can help to quench your thirst more readily. This is because the addition of glucose helps your body absorb the water. Plus, the electrolytes are a great replacement for your body if you are sweating in the heat.
If you live in or are traveling to an area with a lot of bugs, you’ll probably want to invest in a quality insect repellent. Avoid repellents that contain more than 30 % DEET, and use repellent on the outside of clothing and on areas of exposed skin. Interested in using a more natural approach? Avoid dressing in brightly colored or floral prints, and don’t use scented products like perfume. Both “Repel Lemon Eucalyptus” and “Bite Blocker” are DEET-free insect repellents that contain natural ingredients. Independent research has demonstrated benefit from both products. As always, avoid contact with open skin, cuts, and the eyes and mouth. When applying bug spray to children, always spray onto your own hand and then apply to the child. It is recommended that you do NOT use bug spray on children under 6 months of age, but instead, keep them covered. Outdoor foggers or candles also increase your exposure to toxic repellants, so best to use a natural repellant applied to the skin and clothes. To specifically protect against ticks, wear long sleeved shirts and pants. Make sure to tuck clothing into pants and pant cuffs into socks. Make sure to inspect all children, pets, and loved ones daily for ticks. If you do find a tick, remove it immediately and contact your doctor to discuss prophylaxis for Lyme’s disease.
Now, get out there and enjoy the summer weather!
Tamara (Cullen) Evans, ND is a 1999 graduate of Bastyr University and currently practicing primary care medicine, with a focus on pediatrics, in Seattle, Washington. She currently serves as the Advanced Pediatrics professor at Bastyr University and she sits on the American Board of Naturopathic Pediatrics, an organization dedicated to the creation of a Naturopathic Pediatrics Board Certification Exam. Additionally, she was a founding Board member of the PedANP and has lectured both nationally and internationally. To date, her greatest accomplishment is raising her teenage son, Max.