5 Tips to Beat the Heat - With Nutrition!

This week marks the first official week of summer, and with it comes scorching temperatures in the Valley. All that sun exposure can mean some serious damage to your skin, hair, and bodily functions if you’re not careful! However, there are some simple preventative methods you can take to keep yourself looking and feeling healthy all summer long! Here are 5 common summertime ailments and how to prevent them.   

  1. Dry, parched hair - Too much sun exposure, saltwater, and chlorine from all that pool and beach time that comes with summer can seriously damage your hair. To keep your locks looking fresh make sure you’re eating a protein-rich diet, since hair follicles are made up of protein fibers called keratin. Also, eating foods rich in Vitamin B5 (sunflower seeds, salmon, and avocado), folic acid (leafy green veggies, citrus fruits, and beans), calcium (milk and yogurt), and zinc (meat and fish) can reduce hair loss, and even replace dull hair with shiny hair.

  2. Dry or damaged skin - All that sun, salt and chlorine can do even worse damage to your skin than your hair, whether it’s dry flaky skin, sunburns, or heat rashes. Again, the key component to healthy skin is a protein-rich diet. Make sure you’re eating enough lean meats, bean, legumes, nuts and seeds daily. Other foods to help keep your skin looking it’s best are antioxidant and vitamin C rich berries, like blueberries, raspberries, blackberries, and strawberries. Antioxidants protect your skin by fighting off, and limiting the production of free radicals which damage skin cells. And of course, make sure you’re drinking enough water to keep your skin hydrated. Which brings us to our next ailment...

  3. Dehydration - if you’ve ever suffered from heat stroke, you know it’s nothing to joke about. If you’re outdoors working up a sweat, it’s easy to do on accident if you forget to drink enough fluids. And no… sodas, beers and margaritas do not count! Stick to water, tea, natural juices, or even sports drinks if you’re really sweating a lot. Between 45-60 percent of the human body is made up of water, and even with slight dehydration you can experience fatigue, muscle cramps, nausea and headaches.  Severe dehydration can cause vomiting, vision problems, kidney and liver failure, and loss of consciousness. For men, an average of 16 cups of water a day from fluid and non-fluid sources (e.g. fruits and vegetables) is adequate; for women, an average of 11 cups.

  4. Muscle cramps - Too much beach volleyball and booze and the next thing you know you’re fighting back the tears, crouched down on the ground with a crippling calf cramp. Nasty muscle cramps are a common symptom of dehydration and overexertion. They often occur when we lose too much water and salt through our sweat, and causes an imbalance in electrolytes like sodium, calcium, and potassium. You can replenish these electrolytes with sports drinks that contain them or by eating potassium rich foods like bananas, raisins, potatoes and spinach.

  5. Food poisoning - Did you know that food poisoning is twice as common in the summertime than any other time of the year? This is because of several factors. Firstly because the bacteria that causes food poisoning thrives in warmer and more humid temperatures. Often times in the summer the cooking and food prep is done outdoors and away from refrigeration and hand washing sinks which can make the bacteria problem even worse. The CDC recommends preventing food poisoning by keeping foods refrigerated or in a cooler with ice. Foods left out in the heat for more than two hours are no longer safe to consume, and in temperatures over 90 degrees that time shortens to just one hour before it could be swarming with sickening bacteria that will have you hugging the toilet for hours or even days.

Summertime can be pretty rough on our fragile bodies, but with proper nutrition your road to recovery will be much shorter, or might even be avoided all together. By keeping your diet rich in protein, fruits and veggies, drinking adequate water, and keeping your foods at the proper temperatures, you’ll be able to enjoy your summer to it’s full capacity!

If you enjoyed this article, I’ll be back next week with 5 more tips!