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Take care of your health during summer season

Summer is upon us. As the days start getting longer and warmer, we need to make an effort to ensure we stay healthy throughout the season.

Although it may seem as if summer is the easiest season to live happily and healthily, it can come with a few concerns for your wellbeing.

Top of the list of things to do is to watch your diet. It is important to eat the right things during summer.

Consider including foods with antioxidants, which may help prevent damage to body tissue and reduce the risks of age-related illnesses.

Antioxidants can be found in various foods that include blackberries, blueberries and strawberries. Berries also provide fibre, which helps keep cholesterol low and may even help prevent some cancers.

Exercise is also important. It can help reduce your stress level in addition to keeping your body fit.

Choose at least one outdoor activity such as going on a hike, taking a nature walk, playing games, cycling or swimming.

If you choose an activity that your family enjoys doing together, not only do you get fit together but it is also a great way to create bonding time.

Any activity helps keep your body healthy. You may even consider planting a small garden, cultivating a flower box or, if space is limited, planting a few flowers in flower pots indoors.

Researchers say just putting your hands in soil is “grounding”. When life feels as if you are moving so fast your feet are barely touching the ground, being mentally grounded can help relieve physical and mental stress.

Practise good oral hygiene. Brush your teeth thoroughly twice a day and floss daily between the teeth to remove dental plaque.

Avoid the use of tobacco products. If you smoke, seriously try quitting.

 

Smoking contributes to the risk of many non-communicable diseases, apart from lung cancer.

Limit alcoholic drinks. If you have diabetes, work to maintain control of the disease. This will decrease the risk for other complications which include gum disease. Treating gum disease may help lower your blood sugar level as well.

If you take any medication that causes your mouth to dry up, ask your doctor or healthcare professional for a different medication that may not cause this condition. If dry mouth cannot be avoided, drink plenty of water and chew sugarless gum.

Protect your eyes at work and leisure by wearing protective eyewear. When you are outdoors, wear sunglasses that block at least 99 percent of ultraviolet A and B rays. Sunglasses can help prevent cataracts as well as wrinkles around the eyes.

Take care of your heart. Staying active can reduce your risk of developing heart disease.

Manage your weight, as being overweight can increase your risk of heart disease.

Eat more fibre in your diet. Cut down on saturated fat and salt as well.

Consider taking a vacation. It can help lower your blood pressure, heart rate and stress hormones such as cortisol, which contributes to a widening waist and an increased risk of heart disease.

Take it easy if you drink alcohol. Go light on the hard drinks. Summer is a great time to go without drinks with hard alcohol.

Choose a light, chilled alcoholic beverage such as cocktails or light beers.

Health experts recommend no more than one drink a day for women and two drinks a day for men.

Make an effort to improve your sleep. Avoid staying up late. Try to keep to the same bedtime and wake-up schedule. Do not drink alcohol within three hours of bedtime as this can affect the quality of your sleep.

Older adults are more prone to negative effects of the summer, such as from exposure to the sun and heat, than younger people. They are more likely to have a chronic medical condition and take prescription medications that can cause mouth dryness, increase sensitivity to the sun, change ability to reason or impair the body’s ability to regulate temperature or perspire.

Older people with conditions such as asthma, thyroid diseases, obstructive pulmonary disease, high blood pressure, heart or circulatory problems, diabetes or lupus should take care to avoid heat and sun exposure.

To avoid getting overheated, everyone should drink plenty of fluids but avoid drinks with alcohol, caffeine or a lot of sugar. Take fluids at least 30 minutes before going outside.

Taking fluids during summer helps keep you hydrated and reduces the chances of dehydration. Wear wide-brimmed hats and light-coloured, loose fitting clothes. Remember dark colours absorb more heat.

Eat more frequently and be sure meals are well balanced, cool and light. On very hot summer days, when temperatures exceed 30 degrees Celsius, avoid outdoor activities from 10am to 4pm, as this will be the hottest part of the day.

If possible, stay in an air-conditioned environment during the hottest hours of the day.

Staying in a cool environment can also help prevent heat stroke.

Heat stroke occurs when the body can no longer control its temperature and is unable to cool itself. This condition can cause disability or death if not treated right away.

Warning signs of heat stroke include red hot dry skin, high body temperature, dizziness, nausea, confusion and irritability, strange behaviour, unconsciousness, rapid pulse, throbbing headache and rapid and shallow breathing.

If heat stroke is suspected, seek medical help immediately.

If you can walk, go to a shady area and cool yourself with water or damp sheets. Drink some fluids slowly.

If you are helping someone with suspected heat stroke, take the same steps but only give fluids by mouth if the person has a normal mental state and can tolerate it.

You can also use a fan to cool the person down.

The information in this article is provided as a public service by the Cimas iGo Wellness programme, which is designed to promote good health. It is provided for general information only and should not be construed as medical advice. Readers should consult their doctor or clinic on any matter related to their health or the treatment of any health problem. — igo@cimas.co.zw or WhatsApp 0772 161 829 or phone 024-2773 0663.

 

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