Are you glowing with that summer tan?
Unfortunately there is a pervasive belief in our society that a tan connotes health, affluence and beauty. You’ll hear that a tan offers protection against sunburn. The truth is that a tan offers very little protection against sunburn and we’re starting to learn some startling new truths from recent research, namely that UV harms skin cells’ DNA. This destruction triggers melanogenesis which is a scientific word for production of pigment cells where melanoma (skin cancer) forms. Some of the time the body’s immune system tracks down these mutations and repairs them; when it doesn’t, skin cancer takes hold.
According to the Skin Cancer Foundation, a tan is never a good thing from a health perspective. The only safe tan is a non-UV self-tanner, which may carry its own risks.
Here are some things you can do to protect yourself and your loved ones:
- Wear long sleeves/pants when possible.
- Use a swim shirt to block UV rays in the pool.
- Take advantage of a wide brimmed hat.
- Aim for 20 minutes of sun exposure, avoiding the strong midday sun, for production of Vitamin D before heading for shade or covering up!
- Use broad spectrum SPF 50 sunscreen. If you’re concerned about chemicals, make your own sunscreen.
- Apply to face, ears, neck, hands, legs, any exposed skin, 15 minutes before heading into the sun.
- Reapply after swimming or sweating as even water resistant sunscreens are diluted.
- Reapply every two hours.
National Institutes of Health / U. S. National Library of Medicine
Whether you’re staying home, traveling, or a little of both, check out these tips on how to stay healthy and beat the heat this summer!
- Purchase a water bottle that keeps drinks cold for longer – some double thickness stainless steel bottles keep ice for 24 hours!
- Make your own fruit-infused water – lemon rinds add d-limonene, a beneficial plant substance.
- Avoid drinking alcoholic or sugary beverages in the heat – your body likes water.
- Use sunscreen! Set an alarm on your phone reminding you when to reapply.
- If you like a summer tan, try a spray tan instead of tanning beds; a tan isn’t worth the risk of developing skin cancer!
- Look up the current UV rays here
- To avoid heating up your home, do most of your cooking meal-prep style in the mornings or at night and do some outdoor grilling.
- Take advantage of all the yummy fruits and veggies in season!
- Veggies: beets, bell peppers, cucumbers, eggplants, tomatoes, radishes, zucchini
- Fruits: blueberries, cantaloupe, grapefruit, limes, peaches, strawberries
Follow the balanced plate model for optimal nutrition. Including a protein rich food and whole grains with your fruits and veggies is the way to go.
- Exercise early in the morning or late at night when temperatures are cooler
- Invest in “real” workout clothing that keeps you cool and wicks away sweat – your free basketball t-shirts won’t cut it in this heat!
- Remember that every body is a summer body; don’t push yourself to injury by trying to obtain a “perfect” beach body… the perfect body doesn’t exist!
Whatever you do, enjoy yourself!