Health Tips for the Summer

Well, summer is certainly here. I have listed some things to think about as you enjoy your summer days.

Dehydration

Since our body is mostly made up of water, it’s even more important during the summer to be sure we are giving it enough. I always like to think that my body has been good to me all these years so its time I need to be good to it. Sometimes the body doesn’t seem to ask for much but it can starve for water. In fact, it will die for water. If dehydration sets in, one of the first things you may notice is that you may become tired, and may have a slight headache.

Drinking water throughout the day helps our energy levels. Many people ask me “how much is enough.” The internet may give you a certain number of glasses to drink a day but I feel that everyone is a little different. For example, a 200-pound man may need more water than a 105-pound female. A good rule to watch if you are wondering if you are getting enough is to watch for when your urine turns almost clear. This works unless you are taking certain medications. Another way is to pinch the skin on the back of your hand. If the skin flops down quickly, you are in good shape. If the skin is slow to go down, you probably are not drinking enough. Oh, by the way, colored drinks do not count. Sorry but you need clear water.

Muscle cramps or spasms

Ohhhhh. No fun. Some people call muscle cramps or spams “Charley horses”. I don’t care whose horse it might be, it hurts and usually happens when you are dreaming in the night.

Most summer time muscle cramps happen when you have become dehydrated and maybe not completely realize how little water you had been drinking. Dehydration causes an unbalance with magnesium and or potassium.

Other than drinking more water and staying well hydrated, try eating more vegetables that are high in vitamins and magnesium. Do simple stretches to work the lactic acid from the muscles. There is also a grandma’s remedy using Epson’s salt in a bath. If you don’t have a bathtub to relax in, you can try rubbing peppermint oil or lavender oil on the affected muscle.

Heat stroke or hyperthermia

Heat stroke is different from heat exhaustion. Heatstroke is hyperthermia and can cause multiple organ dysfunction and often death. The symptoms can include altered mental status. Get the person into cold water immersion and contact 911 or get to a doctor immediately.

Skin care

I know it sounds crazy to say wear cotton long sleeves. I have to admit that I don’t all the time either. However, it is best to limit the strong rays of our sun beaming down on us for a long time. We need the sun but really we only need a small amount at one time. It seems that almost everything in the world needs sunlight to grow with the exception of the creatures and plants in the deep caves and the deep seas.

Be careful with tanning lotions. I know I will get hate mail from this, but think about what is the largest organ of the body? It’s the skin. Tanning lotions are full of chemicals. When we lather lotions on our skin, it soaks into our bloodstream. We have so much cancer in the US and no one thinks of this. There is much more cancer now since sunscreen has come out than there was before the sunscreen.

Summer diet

I once met a man who was 98 years old. I asked him what was his secret to his health and long life. He explained to me that he still loved to play his trumpet and he still loved to go dancing. He told me it was that he had learned to not stress so much because most of the time it turned out that it wasn’t as stressful as he had made it. He also said he ate heavy in the winter cold and light in the summer heat.

During the hot summer months, it may be best to cook and eat light. Enjoy cold foods such as salads with protein, melons, and fruit. Enjoy the bounties of what the season gives us. Cold weather will be here before you know it and the fresh melons etc will not be found as easily once it gets cold.

Less stress

Do you feel overwhelmed, tired, edgy, worried, and just run down? Too much stress can work on our physiological chemicals such as cortisol. Stress can cause excess cortisol to circulate in the body’s system longer than it should. This can cause our immune cells to become sluggish and the cells can die. This is absolutely not good for our immune system.

Higher cortisol levels can also put fat cells on the belly. This not only ruins our bathing suit days but more importantly it raises our chances of diabetes and heart problems.

Try to control the stress levels and think a little differently. Play the “What if game” in a positive way. Remember, for anything bad, there is usually something good and better that comes along. Thinking differently can calm your emotional brain.

Make your home or space a sunnier place.

It is amazing what fresh flowers can do for the environment. I usually buy my flowers at the grocery store. I have found that grocery store flowers are a lot less expensive and can last a week if you keep water in the vase. Beware though, even the grocery store flowers go up in price on holidays such as Valentine’s Day, Mother’s Day, Thanksgiving, and Christmas. The best flowers are if you grow your own in your own yard. As they say, “Digging in the soil is good for the soul.”

–Dr Fredda Branyon