Safe Tips for Summer Under the Sun
Hooray, it’s summer! This season is the ideal time for being outdoors. If you live in the Middle East, you don’t need to worry about rainy days (with few exceptions, summers are generally dry in most parts of the region) to dampen your outdoor plans. Of course, it’s natural to want to get out in the sun during the warm and longer summer days. Being out on a hot sunny day can be fantastic and for many it beats the winter blues anytime. Some of you might want to spend the next two months basking in the sun to get that golden tan (and to also keep if for as long as possible!) or a natural sun kissed glow. In fact, sun exposure is actually quite beneficial in moderation.
VITAMIN D – GET YOURS DIRECT FROM THE SUN
One of the key benefits of sun exposure is getting Vitamin D, which is super essential for healthy bone growth. It also has multiple roles in the body. Here is a round up of this super vitamin:
– Helps maintain the health of our bones and teeth
– Supports the immune system, brain and nervous system
– Regulates insulin levels and aids diabetes management
– Supports lung function and cardiovascular health
– Influences the expression of genes involved in cancer development
In fact, according to Healthline, referring to the World Health Organization (WHO), as one of their trusted sources, they say the following about getting enough Vitamin D:
“According to the WHO, getting anywhere from 5 to 15 minutes of sunlight on your arms, hands, and face 2-3 times a week is enough to enjoy the vitamin D-boosting benefits of the sun. Note that the sun must penetrate the skin. Wearing sunscreen or clothing over your skin won’t result in vitamin D production.”
SUNBATHE AT THE RIGHT TIME
Okay, so direct sun exposure for a short period is beneficial to our health! However, if we are going to be out for longer (over an hour), then we need to take precautionary measures so we don’t burn through exposure to damaging UV (ultra violet) rays. If you are a die-hard sun worshipper, go ahead and sunbathe but try to do it before 10 a.m. and after 4 p.m. Between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m., the sun’s rays are the strongest, so if you are planning to spend a long stay at the beach or pool during these hours, try to stay in the shade, such as under a large beach umbrella…
AVOID ‘FAKE’ SUN EXPOSURE and TANNING PRODUCTS
Don’t use tanning beds. Even though it gives off light, it doesn’t mean it is safe and by no means does it replace the sun! Tanning beds and sunlamps have high amounts of UV rays. Please also avoid products ‘promising to help you tan.’ This can be commercially sold oils, lotions and pills claiming to produce more melanin and darken your skin. Avoid these at all costs! Also, always read the labels and know what is in the products you are using.
PROTECT YOUR SKIN WITH NATURAL SUNBLOCK
While you may think advising you to slather on the sunblock is a given, we refrain from doing so, in spite of the advertising and marketing information out there. We know that most of these sunscreens are laden with toxic carcinogenic chemicals, by far more harmful than the longer hours of sun exposure. The advice from us at The Wellness Project is to be as much as possible very selective with your sunscreen and sunblock brands made with natural and safe ingredients.These kinds of brands are normally available at health food stores and can sometimes be found at some of the bigger pharmacies as well as on-line – from trusted sources, of course! This way at least you are getting a product that is free of harmful ingredients (think also how these natural safe sunscreens without all those chemicals and metals are also better for the sea and the habitat and not least coral reefs!). If you are not sure what these chemicals are, here is a list courtesy of mindbodygreen, which can be a useful reference to go by when reading the sunblock labels:
– Oxybenzone, which is linked to hormone disruption and cell damage that may lead to skin cancer.
– Retinyl palmitate, which has now been proven to be a carcinogen.
– Octyl-methoxycinnamate causes oxidation damage of the skin, which ages your face.
– Butyl-Methoxydibenzoylmethane, which releases free radicals into the body.
– Benzophenone 2 (BP2), decreases the function of the thyroid, in a population that is already seriously suffering from hypothyroidism (under active).
If you want to make the sunscreen yourself, that’s pretty easy to do as well. In fact, at The Wellness Project we have previously introduced a sun lotion recipe you can prepare at home, which you can check out again here.
In addition to using a natural, toxic chemical-free sunblock, you can slip on a shirt, wear a hat and go for large-framed and wraparound sunglasses that protect your eyes and the more sensitive skin around them from UV rays to help reduce the risk of cataracts.
Of course we can’t stress enough the importance of staying hydrated in the summer, especially when we are directly exposed to the sun. Sunbathing and outdoor activities can dehydrate you very quickly without you feeling it, so make sure you drink plenty of water and eat foods that are high in water content. Recently, we covered amazing refreshing make at home smoothies and ways to keep hydrated at The Wellness Project, in case you missed them the first time!
AVOID CERTAIN FOODS
When you are experiencing a heatwave you should be careful not to eat certain foods that can exacerbate the discomfort, such as feeling sluggish, heavy and overheated.
First of all, steer away from spicy foods. They have capsaicin, the active ingredient in chili peppers, which is associated with the short-term increase in body temperature. If you are already struggling with the heat why add more? Second, avoid certain diuretic foods. As we want to stay hydrated, we need to avoid foods and beverages that flush out the water in our system. Pretty much reduce or cut out the following: coffee, tea, soda, alcohol, fried foods and salty snacks. Finally, refrain from eating too much high protein foods. It takes a lot of energy for the body to digest protein, and in the case of some animal proteins, it can take up to 12 hours. This energy creates heat in a process known as thermogenesis. If you can, reduce or cut out meat altogether for healthier eating habits. During hot days replace protein with lighter foods, like fruits, salads (topped with light cheeses), tofu or even carbohydrates like pasta with tomato sauce.
Well, we hope that the few guidelines and advice we shared above will help you maintain a healthy tan, remain hydrated and stay healthy this summer. Make sure to tune in and listen to your body, which will always give you the correct signals. Enjoy the blissful summer weather!