When summer hits here in Australia, the warmer weather can take a toll on our health if we are not careful.
Fatigue, sunburn, heat rashes, heat exhaustion and dehydration can interfere with our days outdoors and our holidays.
It is also important to check on the elderly and little kids as the temperature goes up, as their internal temperature control isn't as efficient as ours.
So I've written some tips to help keep everyone as cool as a cucumber!
Ok, I am going to bang on a bit here about the importance of our skin!! Of course, our skin is sooo important to protect in the sun and not just because we don't want to look like leather bags in the future.
Our skin is the largest organ we have and we absorb everything we put on it. It is a major detoxification channel, we sweat out toxins! It has an amazing cooling mechanism to keep our core body temperature at a comfortable level so we don’t overheat (thank you sweat glands!)
We do need some sun as healthy amounts of regular sunlight exposure enables our body to make Vitamin D which increases our immunity and raises serotonin levels (our happy hormone) which lifts our mood. But protecting our skin from sunburn is vital in guarding against skin melanomas, ageing signs such as sun spots and wrinkles and keeping its mechanisms intact.
Slathering on a good quality SPF 30+ sun cream is vital, and there are a great range of natural based ingredient sun creams on the market. Look for the sun creams which have a sun protection ingredient known as zinc oxide instead of titanium dioxide.
I use EcoTan sun cream on myself and little ones and have fallen in love with the feel, the smell, the look and how it stays on in the water! Thankfully there are many natural suncreams to choose from these days. Your health food store, chemist and online stores and should stock at least a couple if not a few different brands. For a good blog rounding up all the natural sun cream brands, click HERE.
Wearing loose and cool cotton or natural fibre clothing in the heat allows our skin to breathe and keeps us cooler too. Wide brimmed hats and sunglasses should also be part of the Aussie summer uniform. Macular degeneration of the eye is much more common in Australia due to our high levels of sun exposure, so yes, sunnies aren't just a fashion statement, a good pair of sunnies will protect that macular!
Foods that act as skin protection
Our diet can play a huge role in the health of our skin. There are foods that contain ingredients that boost our skins own sun protection factor and can help heal damaged skin.
Eat foods that contain:
betacarotene (carrots, red capsicum, apricots)
omega 3s (salmon, sardines, raw nuts, linseed)
zinc and selenium (vegetables, tuna and brazil nuts) and
OPCs (oligomeric proanthocyanidins) found in high amounts in red grapes (is that a good excuse to have some red wine?)
If you are suffering from sunburn or a heat rash, firstly cool the skin with ice and cold compresses. You can soak your compress (a soft flannel or bandage) in cold chamomile tea which will also help with the inflammation.
Then the best topical application initially is aloe vera straight from the plant or a good quality (99%) aloe vera gel. I love Thursday Plantation brand and you can also buy Pure Aloe in a mist form so it can be sprayed directly on to skin without touching.
Apply frequently until redness is almost gone and then follow up with a good vitamin E cream to restore and repair collagen, moisture and skin elasticity.
Another amazing thing we can do for our skin is to use organic cold pressed coconut oil to repair and keep skin supple. There is even a sun protection factor in coconut oil so use it as an all over body moisturiser. There are so many benefits of taking coconut oil internally as well but that's a whole other blog!
Ok enough about skin, I promise! What's next....
Keeping hydrated will also guard against fatigue and heat exhaustion. Make sure you are drinking two litres of filtered water a day (more if exercise is involved). Cut down caffeine intake as it acts as a diuretic and limit alcoholic drinks which further dehydrate the body.
Drink iced herbal teas such as spearmint and peppermint as they are very cooling for the body internally and you can add fresh slices of lemon, cucumber, sprigs of fresh mint and add frozen grapes or ice cubes!
A great tip is to drink 100% pure coconut water! It's also a great drink as it's full of electrolytes and potassium and does not contain all the sugars and colours of the 'sports' and 'exercise' drinks out there.
A good quality coconut water is nature's electrolyte replacement. Also delicious straight up so I always have coconut water in my fridge. My preferred brand is Natural Raw C which is the best tasting coconut water out there, lowest in sugar, GMO free and not flash pasteurised like a lot of carton coconut water is!
Eat more cooling and hydrating foods such as fruits and salads, especially cucumber, lettuce, celery, melons and yoghurt. Make a smoothie when it's too hot to eat. I base a lot of my smoothies on coconut water as well.
Exercise in the cooler parts of the day when the sun is not as fierce, early morning and late afternoon are best if you are exercising outdoors. Keep in the shade when possible. Get into swimming laps at your local pool or take up Aqua Aerobics! Water based exercise is perfect to motivate you on hotter days.
Don't organise events and gatherings outside in the middle of the day! Catch up for morning teas and early dinners if you are meeting people for picnics and BBQS in the great outdoors.
Keep Your Cool
Another idea is to keep a spray bottle of water in the fridge so you can spritz yourself with cold water when needed. You can even add a few drops of essential oil to the bottle (check which oils are safe in pregnancy) peppermint and spearmint are particularly cooling.
I love using my mists for this purpose. I keep them in the fridge and then spray all over my face and body for an instant cool down. The great things about these are that you get the added benefit of being treated by Flower Essences at the same time!
Have a wonderful summer and be like a cucumber (as in cool as a....!)
Yours in health,