Everyone wants to look and feel good, but it’s challenging when the summer heat sets in. Here are some tips to help you stay cool and shine bright during this hot time:
1. Get solid sun exposure at the right time
Research has discovered 10am-2pm to be the optimal time to safely get some sun and maximize vitamin D production.
Although authorities have always said to avoid the sun at mid-day to reduce the risk of sunburn, research now shows doing so increases the risk of cancer. Here’s why:
UVB rays are shorter waves and produce vitamin D. UVA rays are longer waves and are correlated with melanoma. As the sun moves toward the horizon, more UVB is filtered out than UVA. Soaking up the late afternoon sun actually gives you the wrong ratio of UV rays.
2. Get out your sundress and sandals
Nothing beats the heat like a sundress and sandals. It’s called a sundress for a reason, right? The best part is, you only need to be yourself to shine bright.
Whether you’re going barefoot or opting for flip-flops, check out these tips to keep your hair and skin healthy, too.
3. Use your sunscreen wisely
All sunscreens are rated with a designated SPF, which stands for “sun protection factor.” The average sunscreen is rated between 30 and 50 SPF, but a higher number doesn’t mean better protection. The number indicates how long the protection will last. If your sunscreen is SPF 30, you’ll get the same protection as SPF 50 sunscreen, but you’ll need to apply it more often.
Most commercial sunscreen blocks UVB rays but doesn’t protect against UVA rays. UVA rays present the most danger because they suppress the immune system, and are associated with a higher risk for melanoma skin cancer.
Here’s what Dr. Mercola, a leading authority on health, has to say about it:
“SPF only protects against UVB rays, which are the rays within the ultraviolet spectrum that allows your body to produce vitamin D in your skin. Bit the most dangerous rays, in terms of causing skin damage and cancer are the UVA rays. This is why you always want to make sure any sunscreen you buy protects against UVAs as well as UVBs and does NOT contain any common toxic ingredients, such as oxybenzone or retinyl palmitate.”
The FDA agrees that sunscreen above SPF 50 doesn’t provide better protection, and is misleading to consumers who don’t understand what the rating really means.
4. Stay properly hydrated
Proper hydration is vital to good health, especially in the sun. Water is the purest source of liquid for your body, but if you down some ice cold root beer while you’re on the beach, you should be just fine.
Failure to stay hydrated is a quick way to get heatstroke, and do severe damage to your body. If you’re active in the sun, be sure to drink plenty of water while you’re active. You’re going to lose more water than those who are lying on the sand.
Heatstroke is no joke
Katherine Tallmadge, M.A., R.D. describes the unforgettable experience of volunteering at the Marine Corps Marathon’s Finish Line Emergency Tent. She witnessed exhausted runners stumbling into the tent with severe heat stroke, near death. The runners were submerged in ice water baths and IVs to save their lives.
Tallmadge makes the important point that water is essential for maintaining body temperature, and carries heat away from internal organs to prevent damage. Sweat is caused when heat travels through the bloodstream to the skin. As sweat evaporates, the body cools off, maintaining a safe and functional temperature.
It’s not just water you lose in the heat; your body also loses sodium. Sodium can be replaced with soup and vegetable juices, or some high-quality sports drinks with electrolytes.
If you’re thirsty, you’ve already lost a good portion of your body’s water and it’s past time to grab a drink.
Fasting in the heat is not a good idea. Your body will already be working intensely to compensate for the heat, so make sure you sustain yourself with food. If you’re trying to look good on the beach, passing out from heat stroke isn’t going to help!
Wherever you go, pack some snacks that contain a high density of nutrients. Trail mix, fresh fruit, and peanut butter are all good choices if you want an easy cleanup.
Having a barbecue on the beach sounds like a great idea, but only if someone else does the clean up!