Summer is finally here! If you’re like me and enjoy spending time outdoors I’d like to share some tips to help you have a happy, healthy and enjoyable summer.
- Backyard Barbeques: Summertime has become synonymous with backyard barbeque season. There is nothing like sitting on the back deck or patio while cooking your meal on the barbeque. While we may love that barbeque flavour from cooking over an open flame, unfortunately, grilling our food like this (whether it is meat or veggies) causes the food to produce carcinogenic (cancer-causing agents) chemicals. In fact, every time we cook our food (especially to the point of being well-done or charred), we are exposing ourselves to carcinogens. However, there are steps you can take to help reduce your exposure to carcinogens. For example, limit the amount of grilled foods you eat on a weekly basis and try to make sure you are getting a good variety of raw vegetables in your diet. Vegetables are a source of antioxidants which help to neutralize the effect of free-radicals created by carcinogens. And when you do cook on the barbeque, cook the meat as little as possible and avoid eating charred parts.
- Hydration: I am sure we all know the importance of staying well hydrated in the summer heat. A good rule of thumb is to aim for at least 2 litres of filtered water per day, and increase this amount if you are exercising or participating in any strenuous activities outside. If you’re planning any trips to tropical mountainous areas this summer, or a hike through the beautiful mountains in Canada, be sure to take lots of water along with you to avoid altitude sickness. At a higher altitude our bodies require more hydration than when we are at sea level. This is because the rate of water vapor is lost from our lungs at a faster rate when we are at higher altitudes. If you are travelling to a destination that is at a higher altitude than your body is used to, I suggest picking up a 2 litre bottle of water daily so you can easily keep track of how much water you’ve been drinking each day.
- Electrolytes: Water is important for hydration, but it is not the only thing your body requires to stay properly hydrated. You also need electrolytes. Electrolytes are minerals in your body that affect the amount of water in your body, the acidity of your blood, and how your muscles function, among other things. These minerals are calcium, chloride, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium and sodium. While we can get most of these minerals through our diet, most people tend to have a hard time getting enough potassium in their diet. One of the easiest ways to do this is to drink coconut water. It is one of the best natural sources of potassium. So, if you’re planning a day hike make sure you take some coconut water in addition to your 2 litres of water, and some salty snacks.
- Vitamin D time: Vitamin D has been called the sunshine vitamin because the rays of the sun interact with fatty tissue in the skin to make vitamin D in our bodies. Summertime is the best time to make some vitamin D because of the position of the sun – the sun light is more direct and stronger in the summer. It’s important to know that sunblock also blocks vitamin D production. So try to get sun on parts of your body that normally do not get as much sun exposure (like you belly), this limits health risks from excess sun exposure over your lifetime. Vitamin D is important for many reasons such as bone health, mental health, and helps to prevent diabetes. So try to soak up as much vitamin D as you can this summer.