Posted on 07/29/2013 at 12:00 AM by Embria Health Sciences
By Greta Funk
The great thing about summer is that, for the most part, there are fewer illnesses to be had. The heat does come with its fair share of challenges though, and it’s important to work to increase your immune strength to avoid the dreaded “summer cold,” virus, or heat-related ailment that makes the most beautiful of days ugly and miserable.
There are a few easy and fun things that you can do to increase your overall health and wellness when the temperatures rise. First, get out and move! Moderate exercise, only 30 minutes a day, strengthens immune function. While you’re out, you must stay hydrated. Hot days spent outdoors in the sun will quickly deplete your energy stores and leave you drained and dehydrated. I vividly remember suffering from a case of heat exhaustion in middle school after spending an intensely hot, dry afternoon on the softball fields, and after rehydrating and cooling off, I was down for the count for the rest of the day. Now, I never leave home without reusable tumblers full of water for us to refill throughout the day. When it’s not possible to bring our own water (like, say to an amusement park or event), I cave and spend the money on bottles of water or other non-sugary drinks (consuming too much sugar suppresses the immune system), and hope that there are water fountains at which to refill them.
Another way that I stay healthy during the summer months is by taking advantage of the abundance of fresh, seasonal fruits and vegetables (check out the picture of the pumpkin from my garden on the right!). While it’s too hot to cook much, meals and snacks loaded with colorful, healthy produce hit the spot and provide the vitamins and antioxidants that our bodies need. Think color! Things like watermelon, berries and cantaloupe are not only excellent (and delicious) sources of water that help you stay hydrated when the thermostat goes up, but the more colorful your food is usually means the more good nutrients are there as well.
I also try to avoid direct sunlight during the hottest part of the day, from 10am to 2pm. If it’s not possible to stay inside, finding shade or wearing a hat and longer sleeves and pants can help keep your body from overheating. Sunscreen is essential, especially around the noon hour, and I prefer natural or physical forms rather than chemical. It’s well known that serious sunburns increase your chances of developing skin cancer, so avoiding them is always a good idea.\
For me, summer is a lot more pleasurable when I can keep my immune system strong and working hard for me. Warm, gorgeous sunshine is hard to enjoy when I’m laid up in bed!
Greta lives in the Kansas countryside with her husband and four young children. She has a master’s degree that she has yet to use, but she has plenty of experience in poopy diapers and sandbox etiquette.