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Keeping it Fun in the Sun this Summer

Who doesn’t like the longer, warmer days of summer?  Summertime begs you to go outside and be active playing in the sun, the sand, and if you’re really lucky, the surf.

There are so many health benefits with a controlled amount of sun exposure. The sun boosts your hormones like vitamin D, which helps with: reduced blood pressure, improved cardiovascular health, bone health, and decreased inflammation.  Vitamin D can be made in the skin from exposure to sunlight.  Another benefit from sun exposure is an improvement in your mood, because sun helps the release of endorphins.  And, according to The Journal of Dermato Endocrinology, moderate time in the sun has been shown to offer pain relief for folks suffering from chronic pain issues like fibromyalgia.  

All of this comes with the caveat of “prudent exposure” to the sun.  As most of us know, excessive sun exposure is associated with several health risks including accelerated skin aging, skin cancers, cataracts and sunburn.  Prudent exposure includes 10-20 minutes of unprotected sun exposure for optimal vitamin D production around the noon hour.  Otherwise, apply safe sunscreens that have an SPF no less than 15 and include zinc oxide.  Seek shade and wear a good wide-brimmed hat and wraparound sunglasses to protect your face, neck and the fragile skin around your eyes.

And, always stay hydrated!  

  • You should be drinking your body weight in pounds divided by 2 = # of ounces of fluid per day (i.e., if you weigh 130 lbs, you should consume 65 ounces of water/day).
  • Drink 2 C. of water for every cup of caffeinated drink (which are diuretics and serve to dehydrate you).
  • Drink an additional 32 ounces of water for every hour of sustained exercise.

Suggested fluids:  Water, juice diluted with mineral water 2x/wk, Pom or OJ enriched with calcium/vitamin D, sun tea, fresh squeezed lemonade, veggie juices and green tea.

Lots of the fresh healthy foods available in summer can help your skin. For example, a mix of carotenoids including lycopene (found in tomatoes and watermelon), lutein (found in spinach and other dark-green veggies), and beta-carotene (found in orange, red, and yellow produce) can reduce your skin’s susceptibility to ultraviolet damage. Seafood like salmon, shellfish, and krill, also contributes to skin health.

Here’s a fun do it yourself “pre-sun” nourishing moisturizer to keep your skin healthy from Natural Grocers:

10 Tbsp coconut oil (creamy, not liquid)
1 Tbsp olive oil
1/2 Tbsp. Vit E oil
1/4-1/2 tsp Matcha green tea powder (a superfood, usually available at most health food stores and online)

Mix all oils together with a hand mixer.  Blend in the green tea powder till smooth, no clumps.  Place in an airtight container and store in a cool, dry place.  Smooth onto your skin before applying sunscreen.

Have some healthy sun fun this summer!

Journal of Dermato-Endocrinology