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Alex Allan Nutrition
By Alex Allan on 10/06/24 | Lifestyle Tips

10 tips to stay healthy all summer long

As the temperatures rise and the days get longer, it's the perfect time to revitalise your health and wellbeing. In this blog, I’ll explore simple yet effective strategies to keep you feeling your best during the sunny season. From hydration tips to sleep solutions, I've got you covered, so let's dive in and make this summer your healthiest yet.

1. Drink more water

Stay refreshed and revitalised by increasing your water intake this summer. Not only does water keep you hydrated in the heat, but it also supports digestion, boosts energy levels, and promotes radiant skin. If you’re hoping for a little last minute weight loss before your summer holiday, it’s also worth knowing that staying hydrated will stop you confusing hunger with thirst.

Make it a habit to carry a reusable water bottle with you wherever you go and aim to sip consistently throughout the day. Your body will thank you for it. How much you need will depend on the heat as well as your activity level. The absolute minimum is about 2L.

Simple strategies for staying hydrated

  • Start the day with cooled boiled water and slice of lemon, lime or ginger. It’s a lovely way to hydrate well, is gentle on our gut and can support our liver function too.
  • Fill and carry a water bottle wherever you go. Now is a great time to start that habit – fill it and bring it to your desk whilst you’re at home and take it everywhere you go!   
  • Add ice, herbs such as mint or basil, berries or sliced cucumber to water - experiment and find flavours you love.
  • Enjoy your favourite herbal tea as an iced drink. Simply brew the tea, leave to cool in fridge and add ice to make an iced tea. Ginger and citrus teas work particularly well.
  • Pour a drink of water with every hot drink you make!

2. Cut back on alcohol

While it's tempting to indulge in a cool beer or a chilled glass of white wine during summer gatherings, alcohol consumption takes its toll on your health – even in small amounts. The NHS recommends adults over 21 drink fewer than 14 units a week (low risk drinking). Holiday drinking can really mount up – especially if you’re pouring yourself or you’re at an all-inclusive resort. It’s worth considering that binge drinking (as described by the NHS) is 6##plus## units (women) or 8##plus## units (men) in a single session. This is less than two large (250ml) glasses of wine for women or 2.5 glasses for men.

Challenge yourself to limit alcohol intake and explore refreshing alternatives like mocktails or infused water. Your liver will appreciate the break, you’ll have better control over your weight, feel calmer and less anxious, suffer less severe hormonal symptoms, and you'll sleep much better, so you wake up feeling more energised and focused the next day.

3. Get your steps in

One of the things many of us are guilty of is less activity in poor weather. With the fine weather firmly with us, make the most of the longer daylight hours by prioritising physical activity. That shouldn't only mean structured exercise. Aim for at least 10,000 steps a day on top of your regular exercise regime to boost your cardiovascular health, strengthen muscles, and enhance mood. Whether it's a morning stroll, an evening jog, or a lunchtime walk in the park, find opportunities to move your body and soak up the sunshine. 

If you’re away on holiday and unable to commit to your regular workouts, there are plenty of ways to keep moving, including beach treks and city walking tours. You might be surprised how many steps you can get in when you’re not tied to your desk all day. 

4. Get the sleep you need

Sleep is essential for overall health and wellbeing, but it can be challenging to get adequate rest when the days are long, and the nights are light. To counter this, you’ll need to put a little extra work into your night-time routine. You may find you sleep a lot better in a darkened room. This can feel challenging enough at any time of year if you live in an urban area, but summer adds an extra level. No one ever regretted investing in blackout blinds and/or a silk sleep mask. Take notes from the Scandinavian countries – where the sun rarely goes down for more than a few hours in summer – and throw all you can to tip the scales in your favour (note: these tips help create a more restful space for sleep at any time of year):

Limit screen time before bed, use a calming pillow mist like lavender to soothe the sense, practice relaxation techniques such as deep breathing or gentle yoga stretches. They also love their fish, especially salmon and tuna, which are high in vitamin B6, which helps your body produce more of the ‘sleep hormone’ melatonin.

5. Nourish your body with seasonal foods

We are officially in salad season but there’s a lot more to healthy summer eating than a few lettuce leaves. Take advantage of the abundance of fresh fruits and vegetables available during the summer months. Incorporate colourful produce like berries, tomatoes, cucumbers, and leafy greens into your meals to provide your body with essential vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. 

Variety is not only the spice of life; diet diversity is the gold when it comes to health and wellbeing. If you can reach 50 different plant foods in a week, consider yourself a master. Most people get stuck in a rut of eating a small number of different fruits and veggies and rotating them. Trying to hit 50 is a fun challenge to take on when salads are aplenty, as they make it significantly easier to ramp up the numbers. Different salad leaves count as different foods, different types of apple count as different foods for the purposes of this challenge, as do all herbs and spices. If you made a stir fry with herbs and spices, and a bunch of different veggies, you could hit 10 different foods without too much trouble. Your body loves this variety! Have fun and see how many foods you can get. Simple tips: rotate bags of salad (finish the iceberg, buy romaine, then lamb’s lettuce, then rocket, for example) and, if you grow your own herbs, now’s the chance to add them to all your meals! 

6. Vitamin D v skin protection

The lack of sunshine in winter months can play havoc with your health in general and also your mood because your body makes an important hormone (vitamin D) when the sun’s ultraviolet B (UVB) rays are absorbed through your skin. This means summer (and sunny holidays) is a great time to top up your vitamin D levels. 

However, there is a bit of a balance needed between exposing your skin to the sunlight without wearing sunscreen and not spending too long in the midday sun and damaging your skin – or worse. The research on this is a little confusing and contradictory for many people: while sunscreen does not mean you will have vitamin D insufficiency or prevent your body producing any vitamin D at all when you are in the sun, it will reduce the amount you make. It is worth noting that many of the studies that say vitamin D status is unaffected by sunscreen were based on studies that used sunscreens with an SPF of 15 – and some were funded by sun cream manufacturers.   

So, you must make your own judgement. A little exposure earlier in the day may be beneficial if you have lighter skin (you can get the vitamin D you need in 15 minutes) but going out for the afternoon without sun protection or sunbathing is not advised since we know that unprotected sun exposure/ getting sunburnt leads to sun damage, which may result in skin cancer. 

Those with darker skin can need twice as long – or more – in the sun to get enough vitamin D, putting them at greater risk of sun damage. 

Enjoy the sunshine responsibly by practising sun safety measures to protect your skin from harmful UV rays. Wear sunscreen with a high SPF, seek shade during peak sun hours, and wear protective clothing such as hats and sunglasses. Consider supplementing with vitamin D if you have darker skin and/or do not regularly expose your skin to the sun. 

7. Prioritise mental health

Summer is a time for relaxation, so don't forget to prioritise your mental health, too, if you want to feel rejuvenated. Take breaks from your busy schedule to unwind and recharge, whether it's through meditation, mindfulness, or spending time in nature. 

Now is the perfect time to connect with loved ones, practise gratitude, and find joy in the simple pleasures of summer.

8. Keep cool and beat the heat

When the summer sun is blazing, it's crucial to stay cool and comfortable to maintain your health and vitality. As much as we spend the year in the northern hemisphere waiting for summer to arrive, high temperatures can make you feel depleted. Beat the heat by seeking out shady spots, wearing light and breathable clothing, and using fans or air conditioning to stay cool indoors. Additionally, indulge in hydrating treats like frozen fruit popsicles or refreshing smoothies made with water-rich fruits like strawberries and oranges. By prioritising staying cool and comfortable, you'll not only feel better physically but also be able to enjoy all that summer has to offer without the risk of overheating.

A cup of tea might paradoxically bring relief from the heat. In Asian cultures, tea has long been consumed to beat the heat. The natural compounds in tea – like L-theanine – were believed to have a cooling effect on the body.

9. Embrace outdoor activities

Make the most of the sunny weather by engaging in outdoor activities that get your body moving and your spirits soaring. Whether it's swimming, hiking, cycling, or playing a game of beach volleyball, find activities that bring you joy and allow you to connect with nature. Remember to stay hydrated and protect your skin from the sun while enjoying your outdoor adventures.

10. Practise gratitude and mindfulness

As summer unfolds, take a moment to pause and appreciate the beauty and abundance that surrounds you. Practise gratitude for the simple pleasures of life, whether it's a breath-taking sunset, a refreshing breeze, or the laughter of loved ones. 

Some people like to keep a gratitude journal. Set aside a few minutes each day to write down three things you're grateful for. This could be anything from the people in your life to the simple pleasures of daily life. By focusing on the good things in your life, you can start to build a more positive outlook. 

It’s also fulfilling to express gratitude to others by taking time to thank the people in your life who have made a positive impact on you.  

Gratitude and mindfulness go hand in hand. Take a few minutes each day to simply focus on the present moment and appreciate the world around you. This could be as simple as taking a walk outside and noticing the beauty of nature, or savouring a cup of tea and enjoying the taste and aroma. 

By incorporating these ten strategies into your summer routine, you'll not only feel healthier and happier but also set yourself up for long-term wellbeing. Here's to a summer filled with health, vitality, and endless possibilities

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