5 Summer Health Tips

Playing in Sprinklers

We all know that summer time brings glorious hot weather, and with it sunburns, heat stroke, and dehydration. And we all know how to prevent these problems.

But could there be some other summer health problems that we don’t hear about everyday? Here is a list of tips for summer ailments that are a little less obvious.

1. Summer Weight Gain

While having a beach body is important to many, summer weight gain is more common than one would suspect.

bbqThe food that we consume at the beach may be some of the most fattening foods we eat all year. Think about it. Chips, hot dogs and burgers, mayonnaise-based potato and pasta salads, ice cream, sugary iced drinks, beer and frozen cocktails make up the base of our summer diets.

But that’s not all. Alarmingly, according to the International Journal of Obesity, air conditioning may be a major factor in summer weight gain. When we are in a space with a comfortable temperature our bodies do not need to work as hard to stay cool, and since our bodies are not as hot, any decrease in appetite–usually seen in the summer–disappears. We eat more and burn fewer calories!

Another study at Ohio State University found that children’s BMI increased on average more than two times as much during summer break than during the school year. (Keep in mind that the school year is four times longer than summer vacation.)

Yet summertime is the best time of year to enjoy fresh fruits and vegetables, which naturally keep the body hydrated and energized. Try grilling vegetables, fish and shrimp and eat watermelon for dessert. Enjoy a day with family at a local farmers market trying out new types of produce or go berry picking at a local farm.

2. Air Pollution

Exercising in Sunset Park

Exercising outdoors is something many of us do in the summer. But there is one factor that we should all watch out for: air pollution. High temperatures mixed with air pollution can cause ground level ozone to form. Ground level ozone worsens asthma and breathing problems, and overexposure can lead to reduced lung function and lung disease.

Make sure to check the air quality forecast in your neighborhood before going out for a run or jog, or even before a long day at the beach.

You can check air quality forecasts and conditions at:  http://www.airnow.gov/

3. Stress

gardeningIf you are looking to reduce stress this summer, try gardening. New evidence suggests that a bacteria found in soil, Mycobacterium vaccae, may boost your spirits. Mice who ingested this bacteria experienced higher production of serotonin, a mood-boosting hormone. A second study on lung cancer treatment found that patients who received an injection of the same bacteria experienced better moods and fewer symptoms.

4. Brain Health

Summertime can be a great time to improve your brain health. According to Dr. Paul Nussbaum Ph.D., ABPP, there are two important factors to keeping your brain healthy: novelty and complexity.

Novelty can be achieved by learning a new skill, travelling to a new place, or even taking a different route to work each day. Rather than sticking with a routine, try to change up the order of your morning activities, which will improve brain awareness and engagement.

Complexity is related to learning new skills and improving those areas where you are weakest. For example, if math is not your strong suit, try doing a few problems each day. Improving what we are already good at does not do as much for the brain as stimulating areas that we may avoid.  Both of these techniques will improve brain function and help fight dementia, Alzheimer’s Disease, and other types of brain degeneration.

5. Sunscreen

lipsSunscreen should not be just for the skin. Lips can be just as important to protect to avoid melanoma, or skin cancer, on the lips. Avoid lip-gloss or shiny lipsticks, which function like tanning oil by attracting sunlight. In order to avoid this exposure it is important to block both UVA rays, which contribute to visible aging as well as skin cancers, and UVB rays, which cause skin reddening and sunburn and are the dominant causal factor in skin cancers. Both men and women should make a point of using chapstick that contains SPF with both UVA and UVB protection, especially during long periods of sun exposure.

Written by Georgina Muri, MA.

Sources

American Society for Microbiology. “Can Bacteria Make You Smarter?” Science Daily, 25 May 2010. Web. 19 July 2013.

Assershon, L., et al. “A Randomized Pilot Study of SRL172 (Mycobacterium Vaccae) in Patients with Small Cell Lung Cancer (SCLC) Treated with Chemotherapy.” Clinical Oncology 14.1 (2002): 23-27. Royal Marsden Hospital NHS Trust, 14 Feb. 2002. Web. 19 July 2013.

“Avoiding Harmful Ozone Pollution This Summer.” Eea.europa.eu. European Environment Agency, 9 Aug. 2012. Web. 19 July 2013.

Bedford, Julie. “Summer Weather Can Promote Poor Air Quality- NOAA’s Air Quality Forecast Guidance Helps Predict It.” NOAA News Online. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association, 14 May 2007. Web. 19 July 2013.

Bo, S.et al. “Contributors to the obesity and hyperglycemia epidemics. A prospective study in a population based cohort.” International Journal of Obesity 35, 1442-1449 (November 2011).  doi:10.1038/ijo.2011.5.

Gelok, Michelle. “The Cool Truth about Summer Weight Gain.” TheNational.ae. Abu Dhabi Media, 3 Aug. 2009. Web. 19 July 2013.

Nussbaum, Paul David. “Five Brain-Health Factors.” Aging Today XXVIII.5 (2007): 11. American Society on Aging, Sept. 2007. Web. 19 July 2013.

Nussbaum, Paul, PH. D., ABPP. “Brain Health across the Lifespan.” 5 Boroughs Concepts in Care. Marriott Marquis Hotel, New York, NY. 26 June 2013. Lecture.

Stebbins, William, MD and C, and William Hanke, MD, MPH. “Lip Cancer: Not Uncommon, Often Overlooked.” Skin Cancer Foundation, 2013. Web. 19 July 2013.

UAB Magazine. “Does My Air Conditioner Make Me Fat?” Does My Air Conditioner Make Me Fat? | UAB School of Public Health, Feb. 2007. Web. 19 July 2013.

“Understanding UVA and UVB.” Ed. John H. Epstein, MD and Stephen Q. Wang, MD. Skin Cancer Foundation, 2013. Web. 19 July 2013.

Von Hippel, Paul. “Summertime and Weight Gain.” Summerlearning.org. National Summer Learning Association, Nov. 2009. Web. 19 July 2013.

Von Hippel, P. T., Powell, B., Downey, D.B., & Rowland, N.(2007). “The effect of school on overweight in childhood: Gains in children’s body mass index during the school year and during summer vacation.” American Journal of Public Health, 97(4), 796-802.

Photo Credits

Pink Sherbet Photography via Compfight cc
wEnDaLicious via Compfight cc
arte_molto_brutta_2 via Compfight cc
See-Ming Lee via Flickr
Yasa via Flickr

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s