A Few Tips for Staying Healthy this Summer

HMH Physician Group Manalapan, NJ

Summer months are often filled with vacations, BBQs, parties, family, and fun.  Being active both physically and socially are very important for overall health. Here are a few tips on how to stay healthy this summer.

Be sure to exercise.  Regular exercise consists of 75 minutes of vigorous aerobic exercise a week or 150 minutes of moderate exercise a week.  Summer months bring opportunities to exercise while exploring our communities, natural parks, and beaches. There are a number of known benefits to regular exercise, including decreasing risk of breast cancer, colon cancer, diabetes, and heart disease and improving your sleep and overall mood.

A good rule of thumb is to eat in moderation. But, it is easier said than done. One trick I tell patients is to eat a small meal about one hour prior to any event. This meal should be rich in protein and complex carbohydrates (think cheese and whole grain crackers or shrimp on a quinoa strawberry salad). Our bodies metabolize proteins and complex carbohydrates over time, therefore, you should fill full longer. Doing this should help prevent overeating.

The next tip is to plan out your plate, making sure half is vegetables, and summer time usually means great, fresh produce from Farmer’s Markets. Grilled vegetables are full of flavor and a great compliment to protein (fish, chicken, or meat). You can have some sweets, but be mindful. Opt for a smaller slice of cake, a mini cupcake, or one cookie, and have more fresh fruit.  Finally, be wary of the following:

  • Food left out for more than four hours.
  • Undercooked meat, which can lead to e. coli poisoning that can cause diarrhea.
  • Raw/undercooked eggs (Cesar dressings, deviled eggs, homemade ice cream) can cause infection with Salmonella or Listeria.
  • Raw seafood. Vibrio Parahaemolyticus and Vibrio Vulnificus can both can be contracted by eating raw shellfish, especially oysters.
  • Unwashed, contaminated produce and fruit can lead to exposure to Salmonella and Listeria.
  • Clostridium botulinum can be contracted from consuming baked potatoes stored for more than 24 hours in room temperature in foil.
  • Charred meats have been shown to increase the risk of ingesting some cancer causing toxins. This risk can be reduced by marinating meats/fish/poultry for at least 30 minutes with a mixture of vinegar, lemon juice, or wine with herbs and spices.  Additionally, cooking the meat over a low flame, trimming off excess fat, and flipping meats frequently can help reduce the formation of those potential toxins.

Water makes up 65 percent of our bodies. Sometimes we do not realize how much fluid we are “losing” in summer months because of sweating, alcohol consumption, and sun burns.  The goal is to drink roughly eight to ten 8 oz. glasses of water a day. It is also a good rule of thumb to drink one glass of water for every alcoholic drink consumed. If regular water is too “boring,” make it fun by drinking sparkling water or adding fresh fruit to it.

Protect yourself from the sun.  The American Academy of Dermatology recommends using sunscreen with a SPF of 30 or higher. Additionally, it should defend against UVA and UVB sun rays. These sun rays cause damage to the skin and can lead to increased risk of skin cancer. Sunburns are also not just annoying, but they can increase the risk of becoming dehydrated or developing an infection.  The skin is our body’s main defense mechanism, and if there is a breakdown of this defense, we can become ill.

My last piece of advice is to get into the habit of making an annual trip to see your doctor. Preventing chronic conditions is what primary care providers like to do.  We prefer to stop problems before they start. Keeping our patients healthy and happy is our top priority.

Internist Cynthia Vuittonet, M.D., is currently accepting new patients at Hackensack Meridian Health Medical Group Primary Care, 195 Rt. 9 South, Suite 106, in Manalapan, NJ, and maintains privileges at Raritan Bay Medical Center.  She provides comprehensive and skilled health care services to adult patients and is trained in healing chronic wounds. To make an appointment, call 732-360-3522.

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