Ah summertime. From ice cream and long summer days to ocean dips and sunset drinks, no wonder the summer season is a favourite.
But with it comes some challenges as well such as forest fires, heatwaves, and sunburns.
Now we're not telling you not to have fun in the sun but we all have to remember to enjoy ourselves while also taking the necessary precautions to reduce any heat related health risks.
Today we're arming you with the health tips and tricks to help you stay cool, calm, and collected during the summer heat, so you can enjoy your summer to the max!
It's best to avoid tight fitting clothing and opt for loose and lightweight apparel with light colours instead. This allows for better circulation and the lighter colours will reflect the sun's light, instead of absorbing it. Natural fabrics such as cotton and linen are more breathable choices and dry more quickly.
On the other hand materials like polyester and nylon are best avoided as they can retain sweat and body odours more easily by trapping heat and moisture. Not a good combination.
If you are spending hours in the sun a hat and sunglasses are also recommended.
Keep the home cool
As we know heat rises and cold air sinks, thus it is wise to stay on lower floors of buildings and houses, such as the basement, which will be cooler than upper levels. This will be especially important at bedtime as heat makes it harder to fall asleep so sleeping as close to the ground as possible will help you beat the heat.
If you do not have access to air conditioning, using fans can help to circulate air throughout the home.
Keep windows closed and curtains drawn during the day to block out the sun's rays and heat and open up at night time when the sun has set and the air is cooler.
Avoid unnecessary heat
Instead of high heat cooking, keep appliances such as the oven turned off to avoid extra heat generation in the house and choose fresh foods instead that don't require heating up whenever possible. This is the perfect time to whip up your favourite cold soups, smoothies and vibrant salads!
Turn off lamps, lights, TV, and electronic devices when not in use as the more appliances that are being used the more energy generated and potential heat produced.
Take advantage of the summer's natural light as much as possible, use candles, and get outside!
Soak washcloths in cold water to use on the shoulders, wrists or head, take cold showers, have a cold foot bath, apply ice packs, or cool off in the ocean, river, or lake. You can also use a spray bottle with cold water to mist your body and cool down.
Be sun smart
Apply sunscreen if you are spending longer periods in the sun (always look for non-toxic brands), wear a hat, seek the shade, and try to avoid exposing yourself to the sun during the hottest hours of the day (between 10am and 4pm) whenever possible.
Though the sun does provide us with significant health benefits, at the same time it is important to be smart about how you spend time in the sun during the hotter months to avoid sun damage and heat related problems.
Avoid alcohol & excess caffeine
As diuretics, these can flush water out of the body promoting dehydration. Opt for water as much as possible or alternative fun drinks such as kombucha and teas.
Struggling to drink enough water? Carry a water bottle with you everywhere (avoid plastics) and pop in some fun additions to your H2O such as cucumber, mint, watermelon, citrus fruits, or berries.
In addition to alcohol and caffeine, the obvious offenders such as processed foods, soda, fried foods, and excess salt and sugar should also be avoided.
Yes you already know to drink plenty of water, right? But did you know foods are also great sources of hydration?
Some foods that are particularly water rich and cooling to the body include watermelon, cucumber, cantaloupe, berries, aloe vera, limes, celery, and cilantro.
We also recommend sticking to lighter meals during the day instead of heavy meals which will be more difficult to digest. Eating away from bedtime, typically 2-3 hours before, will also help you sleep more easily and stay cooler.
If you are particularly active or spending a lot of time outdoors in the heat it might also be worthwhile to add in some electrolytes for extra support and recovery. Coconut water is a great natural source of electrolytes, just steer clear from brands that add sugar!
Water is also best consumed at room temperature as ice cold drinks can negatively impact the digestive system and even cause stomach cramps.
Be sure to invest in a water bottle and fill it up as often as you can to have with you at all times. You never know when you will find water next and it's always best to be prepared!
Though summertime is probably not the best time to train for a marathon in the middle of the day, you can still stay active!
Extra strenuous activity is not recommended outdoors during the hottest hours and days. It is generally recommend to exercise inside air conditioned facilities instead or wait until evening when the air cools down.
It's important to recognize what heat related symptoms may look like and contact emergency services if needed. Symptoms such as headaches, dizziness, nausea, confusion, muscle cramps, and high body temperature may all indicate heat related illness. If you find yourself experiencing any of these symptoms please seek help immediately and move to a cool area.
About the Author
Laurence Annez is a Certified Nutritional Practitioner and Health Coach, specializing in PCOS and women's hormones. She also holds a degree in Creative Writing and has extensive experience writing on health and wellness topics. Laurence's mission is to inspire and motivate individuals to take control of their own health and reach their ultimate health goals.