By Walter Gaman, MD, of Executive Medicine of Texas
Surviving the summer, especially in Texas, can be tough. The summer months can be very taxing on the body as a whole. Below are a few tips on how to stay young and full of energy, despite the zap from the heat.
Approximately 70 percent of an adult body is made up of water and even the smallest dip in hydration can cause symptoms. The body uses water to do many things:
• Keep the mouth, eyes and nose moistened
• Regulate body temperature
• Protect tissues and organs and keep them functioning properly
• Help the kidneys and liver flush toxins
• Regulate the digestive system
• Carry nutrients and oxygen to all parts of the body, including the brain
In an effort to stay properly hydrated, a simple formula can be followed. Take your body weight in pounds, divide it in half and that number (in ounces) is the base amount of water you should drink per day. Heat and exercise will increase the amount of water needed, so if either are a factor then sixteen ounces should be added.
Drinks that contain caffeine, such as coffee, tea, and colas actually work like a diuretic. Although a good cold glass of tea will quench the thirst, it will not hydrate the body. For every caffeinated drink, eight ounces of water should be added to the necessary daily intake.
A good tan may look great, but skin cancer doesn’t. According to the Skin Cancer Foundation, for more than 30 years, more people have had skin cancer than all the other types of cancers put together. Even if you are lucky enough to escape cancer, sun exposure causes premature aging with 90 percent of visible signs of aging being caused by exposure to the sun.
The best form of protection is avoiding the sun, but that doesn’t mean avoiding fresh air. Early morning and evening walks are a great way to avoid the harmful rays, but still be able to enjoy the outdoors. When out in the sun, SPF 30 wide spectrum will block 97% of harmful rays. Even though there are higher levels of SPF, the added protection they provide is minimal.
Changes in moles or skin texture should be reviewed by a physician. Physicians should always look at the skin during a physical exam. After all, the skin is the largest organ in the body.
Summer is a great time to increase nutritional intake. Fruits and vegetables are their best during this time of year. Foods that are colorful actually have higher nutritional value. Someone once said that a rainbow on a plate adds years to your life. Below are a list of summer fruit and vegetable colors to look for and their significance:
• Red - contain nutrients such as lycopene, ellagic acid, quercetin, and hesperidin. The health benefits include reduced blood pressure and LDL cholesterol levels, improved immunity, as well as supported joint tissues.
• Yellow and Orange – contain beta carotene, zeaxanthin, lycopene, potassium, and vitamin C. These will keep you looking and feeling young, while also warding off macular degeneration and prostate cancer. Added to calcium, they will help build strong and healthy bones
• Green – contain chlorophyll, fiber, lutein, zeaxanthin, calcium, folate, vitamin C, calcium, and Beta-carotene. Health benefits include lower cancer risk, lower blood pressure and cholesterol, improved digestion, and a boost in immunity.
• Purple and Blue – contain resveratrol, zeaxanthin, lutein, fiber, ellagic acid, fiber, and flavonoids. This is the best color class available for health benefits which include improved immunity, reduced inflammation, reduced risk for cancer, and improved eye health. If you want to stay young, these are the best for reducing the signs of aging.
The summer months are not the easiest to get motivated to sweat on purpose. Heat exhaustion from exercising in the heat can cause lasting health problems. If early morning or evening outdoor exercise is not an option, be sure to visit the gym or exercise at home in the air conditioning. Don’t let the heat of the summer keep you from a good workout, regardless of how draining it can be. As stated above, be sure to drink additional water when exercising and especially when exercising during summer months.
Exercise is not only important for weight maintenance, it improves mental clarity and circulation. A good exercise program contains three major components: cardiovascular, muscle building, and flexibility. Be sure to do all three for at least thirty minutes, three times a week.
Enjoy the summer and all the wonderful things it has to offer, but do so with caution. Protect and preserve your health and the health of your family.
Dr. Walter Gaman is Board Certified in Family Practice in both the US and Canada. He is the managing partner of Executive Medicine of Texas, co-author of the book Stay Young: 10 Proven Steps to Ultimate Health, and Co-host of the nationally syndicated Staying Young Show which airs locally on 570 KLIF on Saturdays at 6pm and on Sirius XM Channel 131 Saturdays at 8am. You can learn more about Executive Medicine of Texas by visiting www.emtexas.com or calling 817-552-4300.