Summer is almost here! As the daylight hours lengthen you can get more sunshine in your life and enjoy more time outside. With all of the fresh, nutritious seasonal foods on offer, this can be a great time of year to focus on your energy levels and overall health. These are our 3 top tips for a healthy and happy summer.
1. Boost your antioxidants
The summer season means easy access to a wide range of berries, lush veges, summer squash, fresh herbs and leafy greens. These delicious foods provide good levels of antioxidants which help to prevent oxidative damage and provide a protective effect to your body at a cellular level. A number of food frequency questionnaire-based studies have shown that hIgh levels of dietary antioxidants are associated with better heart health, lower cancer risk and may have a role in the prevention of neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer's(1). So lap up those fresh, seasonal ingredients while they are on offer, and if in need of summer salad inspiration check out the recipes on Paleo Leap (we love the chicken lime and avo!).
2. Get outside
The increased daylight hours make this an ideal time to add more walking or jogging into your routine. Move your yoga mats outside, try trail running, or simply take your run at the park instead of the indoor treadmill. HIIT Training (High Intensity Interval Training) is a whole lot more fun at the park or beach, and has been shown in new research to deliver greater benefits to your health when compared with continuous aerobic workouts(2). Adding just 1-2 hours of exercise each week can improve all areas of your health, including heart health(3) and brain plasticity(4).
Outdoor workouts are great because you get more sunshine and depending where you live, more time in nature. Sunshine enables your natural synthesis of Vitamin D which gives you a positive health boost, which we covered in more detail in our Vit D blog. There is evidence to show that time in nature can also help to relieve stress and help you to address health issues including obesity, cardiovascular disease, depression, and anxiety(5).
As well as the well-known health benefits of fresh air, new research suggests that trees may play a role in the electrifying the atmosphere, leading to greater ionisation of the air in the forest(6). A further benefit may be related to grounding, also known as ‘earthing’ which involves the simple act of placing your feet on the ground. Check out Chris Kresser’s summer blog to find out more.
3. Choose smart sun exposure
Smart sun exposure means getting enough sunlight to trigger Vitamin D synthesis, but not enough to get sunburnt. Many of us will reach for the sunscreen as the warmer weather arrives, but there is mounting evidence to show that the ingredients in most sunscreens are pretty bad for both our skin and overall health. Another approach is to get a good amount of mid-morning sun, and then cover up - or move to the shade - before you run the risk of getting burnt. If you are looking for other alternatives, including foods that can help your body’s natural defences against harmful UVA/UVB rays then check out Mark’s Daily Apple - 8 natural ways to prevent sunburn.
We hope you have enjoyed our healthy summer tips! We would love to hear from you about how to have a healthy summer - please share in the comments below.
1. The Role of Food Antioxidants, Benefits of Functional Foods, and Influence of Feeding Habits on the Health of the Older Person: An Overview
2. High-intensity interval training versus moderate-intensity continuous training within cardiac rehabilitation: a systematic review and meta-analysis
3. Health benefits of physical activity: the evidence
4. The Neuroprotective Effects of Exercise: Maintaining a Healthy Brain Throughout Aging
5. Nature Contact and Human Health: A Research Agenda
6. Trees may play role in electrifying the atmosphere, study suggests