Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Detox Your Summer (How To)

It's officially summer and with it comes special health risks, especially in Kansas City, where our air quality takes a sharp turn for the worse - often breaking EPA regulations. With that in mind, and with my years of experience of hiding from the sun as a freaking redhead, I offer you some tips on keeping your summertime as healthy and positive as possible.

1. Avoid excessive sun and use protection
The sun is a big beautiful thing, but that doesn't make it's rays good for your skin. Most of us know this generally, but posted a great resource listing 13 dangers of excessive sun exposure that you should check out. They include sunburn, lowering your white blood cells (and your ability to heal) and causing rashes, migraines, cancer and cataracts. In fact, sun damage to our eyes is such a big problem that Prevent Blindness America has an entire educational component dedicated to it. Their tips on protecting your eyes include wearing shades and hats. Hats are some of my favorite accessories in general, so I am loving the chance to use all my sunhats. Of course, you should also wear sunscreen, making sure to apply it properly (pdf).

2. Be aware of the SkyCast and act accordingly
SkyCast is our local resource for air quality, run by Mid-America Regional Council. Their updates are daily and are often aired on the TV and radio news during the summer months. You can also receive your daily update as an email or through a RSS reader.

For those of you who don't know, the 4 levels are shown above. Sensitive groups include children, people who are usually active outdoors and people with respiratory disease, such as asthma. Each level has a recommended way of acting to keep you from breathing in as few toxins as possible. Be sure to check out the orange and red alert actions, which generally include re-scheduling normal activities like filling your gas tank or mowing your lawn.

3. Drink plenty of water
Dehydration is another problem in the summer. Water is such a vital part of our bodies, that it's been estimated that if we lost 10% of the water in our bodies, we'd no longer be able to stand! suggests you "drink at least one-and-a-half cups of water every half hour and at least one-and-a-half cups of water 20–30 minutes before playing or exercising in the heat." They also list the signs of dehydration, so you can recognize it: flushed face, rapid pulse, dark yellow urine, sunken eyes, skin that doesn't bounce back after you pinch it, irritability and irrational behavior. Dietitian Joanne Larson says that chilled water is the best way to satisfy thirst and it is absorbed more quickly by your stomach - so keep a nice cool (filtered) pitcher in the fridge and drink often! Because by the time you feel thirsty, you're already a little dehydrated.

Related posts:
Detox Your Life
Detox Your Petcare
Take a Deep Breath

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Bryan said...

1.5 cups of water ever half hour? Assuming you sleep for 8 hours, that would be 384 ounces per day! I am hoping that is a typo because I have read that is way way way too much.

May said...

Hm... I assumed it was talking about cups as in glasses, not the measurement. But, that might be a lot too. My brain tends to make static-y noises when presented with numbers. X_x

Bryan said...

If it were 1.5 glasses (Typical glass is about 8 - 16 ounces) that would be even more.

I have read that it is good to drink about 1/2 your body weight in ounces per day. Imagine a pint glass of beer - that is 16 oz. I weigh 240 lbs. so if I drink 7 or 8 of those glasses full of water per day (never mind the fact they say Guiness on the side), I will be peeing like crazy but I will be fully hydrated. Then have a little more or less depending on weather and activity, of course. That is for me, thankfully not everyone weighs as much as me, so adjust accordingly.

Informative post though, it is important to get sun (or actually the vitamin D that results) but it is probably even more important not to get too much sun(or more importantly the sickness and death that results), and hydration is also extremely important. Just wanted to comment on drinking entire oceans worth per day... ^_^

-Jenna- said...

You never cease to amaze me with your wealth of information ...

Very good post.