When the weather is warm and the days are long, that only means one thing: summer is ﬁnally here! Whether you enjoy sitting poolside or spiking a ball on the beach, summer is the season of fun in the sun. But with busy days and nights ﬁlled with outdoor activities and special events — from beach days to barbecues and summer festivals — it’s easy to forget about taking care of your body.
We’re pledging to enjoy the beautiful summer weather and the company of friends and family, all while making this our healthiest summer yet. Why not join us and make your summer a healthy one, too?
Try these six tips for a happy, healthy summertime groove:
1. Hydrate Hydrate Hydrate. We need water for our body and brain to function properly. Hot temperatures, activity, sun, and wind can quickly deplete our bodies of crucial hydration. The Institute of Medicine recommends men should try to drink 125 ounces (about 15 cups) of water, and women should aim for 91 ounces (about 11 cups) each day. No need to drink from the ﬁrehose, you can get water from beverages and food alike. Learn more about healthy hydration from our Hydration 101 resource.
2. Eat a Rainbow of Fruits and Vegetables. Red, purple, green, blue, orange…summer oﬀers a bounty of colorful fruits and vegetables. Fruit makes a stellar summertime snack or dessert. Berries in particular boost your antioxidant levels, which help your body to ﬁght the free radicals that can cause sun damage. Veggies are perfect raw, sautéed, steamed, or in place of chips with your favorite dips. Take advantage of the gorgeous weather and try grilling your rainbow outdoors, using our trusty Grilling Guide. Most veggies and some fruits, especially stone fruits like peaches and apricots, take well to the grill. Fruit’s naturally occurring sugars caramelize, resulting in a deeper, mellower ﬂavor and texture.
3. Fuel Your Activity Level. If you’re “on the run” literally or ﬁguratively, you’ll need to keep your body fueled for your active lifestyle. A healthy breakfast sets the tone for the rest of the day, and may even help with your weight loss goals. Our Healthy Weight Loss Breakfast chart shows how easy it is to combine a protein, whole grain, and fruit or vegetable for a balanced meal. For more quick breakfast inspiration, check out these recipes from belVita. For in between meal times, keep a stock of healthy snacks on hand, such as a handful of dried fruits, nuts such as almonds, cashews, walnuts, or sunﬂower seeds.
4. Amp Up Your Water Intake. You’ll decrease your calories, and save some cash, by switching out sugary drinks with infused waters that you make yourself. No recipe needed. Simply add your ﬂavor of choice — such as cucumber, citrus slices, or ginger — to your water and refrigerate. For extra ﬂavor, add an herb such as mint or basil. Have fun experimenting with infused water, or as some like to call it, spa water.
5. Host a Picnic for Your Friends, Not for Bacteria. Food safety is particularly important in the summer. Keep foods on ice or refrigerated for as long as possible. Use a vinaigrette comprised of olive oil, vinegar, and seasonings instead of mayo whenever possible. You’ll love our Mediterranean-inspired basic vinaigrette recipe. Find more ideas for keeping your food, and your family, safe and healthy year-round on the Partnership for Food Safety website.
6. Soak Up Some Rays. Vitamin D is a crucial component to a healthy immune system, and is necessary for healthy bones and teeth. Vitamin D is only found in a limited number of foods — including mushrooms, fatty seafood, egg yolk, and fortiﬁed foods — and those on a vegetarian or vegan diet must ensure they are getting enough of this essential nutrient (check out our Vegetarian Vitamin D Sources page). Our body also produces some vitamind D when our skin is exposed to the sun’s ultraviolet light, so it’s important to spend some time in the sun. However, too much exposure, as we all know, is not a good thing. Here are a few ways to keep yout skin safe while soaking up the vitamin D:
- Wear wide-brimmed hats, always apply full-spectrum, water-resistant sunscreen with at least SPF 15; reapply every 2 hours.
- Avoid outdoor activities between noon and 3, when the sun is at its strongest, whenever possible.
- Protect your eyes by wearing sunglasses with 100% UVA and UVB protection.
- Learn more about vitamin D and how it impacts your health from this fact sheet via the National Institutes of Health.
Deborah Plunkett, Oldways Nutrition Exchange program manager