Have fun in the sun this summer without compromising your health

June 7, 2018

By: Priscilla Q. Williams, RN

As you and your family prepare to pull out the grill this summer, please don’t forget one important thing, your health. I remember the years as an emergency room nurse and seeing all the patients come in the ER with high blood pressure and elevated blood sugar levels due to the holiday eating. I want to share with you five ways you can stay healthy during the summer. I will also give you a snapshot of a summer meal guide, so you don’t pack on the pounds.

#1 Stay hydrated

While this is the perfect time to have fun in the sun, it’s also important to remember that being in the sun for long periods of time can definitely dehydrate you. Therefore, it is extremely important to increase your water intake and decrease your sugar, caffeine, and alcohol intake.

I know you may be thinking this is time for you to grab an ice-cold beer or a glass of wine with your meal but limit how many beers or glasses of wine you have. Increase your water and add fruit to enhance the taste. Also pay attention to when your body does not have enough fluids and recognize signs of dehydration (dry skin, fatigue, cracked lips, fast heart rate, headache, and dizziness).

#2 Decrease your sodium intake

As I mentioned earlier, during the summer is when people end up in the emergency room with heart attack and stroke-like symptoms. This is the time to pay close attention to your plate. Watch the sodium in the barbecue sauce, baked beans, and the seasonings you are sprinkling on your food.

I know a big pot of greens with smoked meat sounds nice but try some other healthy alternatives. I recently went to a barbecue and instead of eating what everyone else ate, I had grilled fish and vegetables. It was so delicious that my friends wanted some of my food because it looked so tasty. So, this summer try some grilled vegetables, seafood, and even grilled fruit instead of the barbeque ribs.

#3 Stay active

This is not the time to get lazy and sleep all day. I know most people are wanting to catch up on rest but this is the ultimate time to celebrate by getting active. Unbelievably it doesn’t take long to pack on pounds. After a few pieces of cake or a bowl of banana pudding the fat will attach itself. This summer it would be beneficial to find a workout class, or you and some friends go for a walk on the beach. The more active you are, the fewer pounds you will pack on.

#4 Don’t forget the sun screen

Ignore the myths that black people don’t need sunscreen. Damaging UV rays can penetrate all types of skin, regardless of your ethnicity. While skin cancer rates are significantly lower in African Americans and Hispanics than in Caucasians, low risk doesn’t mean no risk. So, make sure if you hit the beach this summer you have on protection. According to the American Academy of Dermatology it’s recommended to apply a sunscreen with an SPF 30 or higher and reapply it every two hours or immediately after swimming or heavy sweating.

#5 Rock your favorite pair of shades

Protecting your eyes is just as important as protecting your skin. Exposing your eyes directly to sunlight can damage your retina. Last year I moved to Florida, known as the sunshine state, and all I can say is the sun does a body good. However, the sun didn’t treat my eyes so well because I didn’t wear shades as recommended. This caused me to have a detached retina and as a result I had to have emergency eye surgery.

This was no fun at all, and now I wear my sunglasses faithfully and even have a pair of transitional lens. According to the National Eye Institute the sun’s rays contain ultraviolet radiation (UVR) and it is this that causes damage to skin and eyes. The rays from the sun can damage different parts of the eye including the retina, the lens and the cornea.

Overall, this summer don’t let your guards down and be very conscious of what you eat, drink and how you protect your body. These tips you may be aware of but the reality is there are so many people who disregard the recommendation of experts. Be safe and be healthy!