Summer has finally begun here in the UK – we've just hit some lovely weather and it's feeling pretty warm. I love the summer, but if you're having hot flushes or you don't do well in the sun, it may not be your favourite time of year!
Whether you love or hate summer time, there are some amazing health benefits that we can enjoy, and some pitfalls we need to look out for.
Health Benefits of Summer
1: Extra Daylight
Daylight stimulates serotonin, our happy hormone. In the winter, when daylight is in short supply, serotonin levels can be affected. Daylight regulates our Circadian Rhythm, which helps the body work out when it's time to be active, and when it's time to switch off and sleep.
2: Free Vitamin D
When the sun's out, you can get a nice dose of free Vitamin D. Sunlight gives you UVB rays, which convert to vitamin D in your body and that helps your immune system, your bones and your brain. Vitamin D is also a known protector against cancer. So get it while you can as you won't get ANY during the winter months in the UK!
3: Better Skin
Sunlight can also help with skin conditions like acne, psoriasis and eczema.
4: Fresh Seasonal Food
Summer is an abundant time for fresh fruit and veg. We are more in the mood for salads and healthier lighter meals. You can get creative and mix up your salads with beautiful, fresh vegetables like asparagus and broad beans, lots of different leaves, throw in some edamame beans for your phytoestrogen fix if you're peri or postmenopausal.
5: More Time in Nature
At this time of year, you're more likely to spend time outside, in nature. This has been proven to reduce stress hormones and improve your mood. You're more likely to do exercises like walking and cycling as you may have more time after work to get outside.
6: Get Sweaty
In summer you are likely to sweat more whether or not you are doing exercise. This doesn't sound link an advantage on the face of it, especially when it's hot and you feel horribly sweaty all the time. Or if you're already having hot flushes or night sweats due to menopause. But sweating is really good for us and helps the body to detox and get rid of extra bacteria, dirt and toxins. Just remember to drink more water!
7: Go Barefoot
If you're outside, kick off your shoes and go barefoot for a bit. It's really good for you to connect with the earth with your bare feet. You can do that in the garden, or if you're anywhere near a beach, there's nothing better than feeling the sand under your feet.
8: Take a Break
For so many of us, summer means holiday season. If you're lucky enough to get a holiday in then that rest time is so beneficial for your hormones and for your general health. So try and take a complete break from work if you can. It's so tempting to keep up with e-mails and stuff but take a break, get rid of the gadgets for a few days as well, that would be an amazing health benefit.
Of course, there are some pitfalls as well as benefits in the summer (nothing is ever perfect!), so here are some things you may need to watch out for.
Avoid These Pitfalls
On those long summer evenings, it's easy to be tempted to drink more alcohol than normal, especially if you're on holiday. If you know the risks, and you choose to drink, just make sure you're well hydrated and take a few nights off each week to give your system a rest.
If you're going through menopause and you're having hot flushes, the last thing you need is a lot of hot weather! It can be a nightmare. So keep cool however you can, wear layers and maybe take a mini fan with you. Alternatively if you are really suffering, this could be a time to get on top of your menopause symptoms. If you're having lots of hot flushes and you're uncomfortable, there are so many natural things you can do, like eating more phytoestrogens, such as organic soy and flax seeds. Avoid common hot flush triggers such as spicy foods, hot drinks, caffeine and alcohol. And stress is a biggie – make sure you are switching off your cortisol response every day.
If you are having hot flushes, you're sweating more or you're drinking alcohol then you need to be drinking loads of water and making sure you're not dehydrated. Dehydration in hot weather doesn't always feel like thirst – it may feel like brain fog, exhaustion and listlessness. So if you have any of those symptoms, then maybe you need to look at your hydration levels.
You might not sleep as well during summer because of the heat, and the sun coming up before 5am can interrupt your sleep as well. Blackout blinds, getting gadgets (and blue light) out of your room and keeping your room cool can all be helpful.
Don't overdo the sunbathing, you want enough to get your vitamin D but you don't want to burn. The UVA rays are the ones that are the ageing ones so that you need protection from those. But again, don't overdo the sunscreen either because the major brands are full of chemicals that we don't want in our bloodstream! Switch to more natural products, I love the suncreams from Green People and Alba. Incognito do a great insect repellent too. Try BigGreenSmile for more natural brands.
If you're a hay fever sufferer like me, you might be wishing for the autumn already! Try loading up on vitamin C and vitamin D to support your immune system. Quercetin and Turmeric can also be helpful.
I love a barbecue but food cooked over coals tends to come with burnt bits! They've got something called HCAs and PAHs (Heterocyclic Amines and Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons). These chemicals can be formed when meat is cooked at a high temperature, over flames particularly. So make sure you're taking off any burnt bits, don't overdo the barbecue meat and I think when you flip the meat a lot it helps. And pile up your plates with lots of lovely salad and veg as well.
I hope you have a wonderful summer and just pop in the comments any tips that you have or any questions you've got.
And if you want to talk to me or any of my team about your hormone or health issues, please contact us and we'll set up a free call asap.