Summer Food For Thought

Summer is finally here! This means days at the beach, backyard barbecues, and vacation getaways. These events will most likely take place outdoors, which calls for more time spent in the sun. However, that summer heat and humidity, along with frequent dips in the pool and the ocean can damage our bodies. In addition to creams, serums, and medicines, eating certain foods can be just as healing. Food is medicine, too!

Consider these foods to fight back against the following summer conditions:

Sun damaged hair

Keratin is a protein fiber that is the building block of hair, in which sun exposure, chlorine, and saltwater damages. Therefore, include protein-rich foods in your diet, such as lean meats, seafood, and beans. Vitamins B-5 and B-8, calcium, and zinc brings back that shine in your dull hair (1). Yogurt, avocados, eggs, and spinach are some examples of foods rich in these nutrients.

Dry, damaged skin

The summer heat, chlorine and saltwater makes the skin dry. Foods high in antioxidants help nourish the skin from sun damage by fighting off free radicals in the body that damages skin cells (2). Vitamin C especially limits damage caused by UV rays from the sun. Try seasonal berries of the summer, such as strawberries and blueberries, as well as citrus fruits. Carotenoids are natural plant pigments found in red, orange, yellow, and green produce that is shown to protect against skin damage from UV rays (2). Tomatoes, carrots, sweet potatoes, and kale are just a few examples of produce high in carotenoids.

Muscle cramps

In the summer, people may not be getting enough liquids to keep up with the heat and the additional sweating from all those outdoor activities (3). This leads to an electrolyte imbalance, causing muscle cramps. Replenish the electrolytes with sport drinks, in addition to potassium rich foods, such as bananas, potatoes, raisins, cantaloupe, and spinach.

Cold sores

Cold sores are frequent summer annoyances caused by overexposure to the sun. Vitamin B deficiency is linked to cold sores (3). Foods high in vitamin B include fortified cereals and bread, dark leafy greens, dairy, poultry, and seafood.