Island Seniors: Tips to keep healthy all summer long

BY ANNEVA CAMPBELL HACKLEY, CHHC

Summer is the time for family, friends, fun and sun. But, not so fast! Before you head for the beach, keep the following tips in mind for a healthier, happier time.

• Hydration Is Key. Water is essential to the human body’s optimal functioning. Even mild dehydration drains your energy, especially in the summer. So consume plenty of beverages and foods that contain water, but beware of the “designer” waters and soft drinks. They could contain as much as 32 grams of sugar per serving and thereby add extra pounds as well as contribute to other health complications. Read the Nutrition Facts Label as a guide to the contents. How much water should one consume? According to the Institute of Medicine, an adequate intake (AI) for men is 3 liters (13 cups) of beverages a day; for women, the AI is 2.2 liters (about 9 cups) of beverages a day.

• Eat Fresh Fruits and Vegetables. These foods help you avoid dehydration. According to the National Cancer Institute, fruits and vegetables contain antioxidant vitamins A and C, as well as Omega-3 fatty acids, which protect bodily functions. Local, seasonal produce is best because they are highest in nutritional value when fresh-picked. Look for colored vegetables such as red, yellow, green and orange sweet peppers, and snow peas, all of which can be cooked or eaten raw. Green, leafy vegetables (kale, collards, Swiss chard, and spinach) are also high in anti-oxidants and Omega-3’s. Brightly colored fruits such as tangerines, cantaloupes, mangoes, papayas and all members of the berry family, are rich sources of Omega-3 fatty acids and antioxidants as well.

• Limit Sun Exposure. Skin cancer is on the rise and excessive sun exposure is one of the culprits. The Skin Cancer Foundation says that “one in five Americans will develop skin cancer over the course of a lifetime and 13 million Americans are living with a history of non-melanoma skin cancer.”

If you are going to be outdoors for an extended period, the foundation recommends using a “broad spectrum” (UVA/UVB) water-resistant sunscreen with SPF 30 or higher. The Mayo Clinic also suggests that you check skin for suspicious changes to ensure early detection of skin cancer.

Hopefully these tips will help you to be more mindful of your health as you enjoy the lazy, crazy, hazy days of summer!

Questions/comments? Email [email protected].

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