Diet Detective’s 11 Best Summer Health Tips

by Charles Platkin, PhD

Detective’s 11 Best  

1.    Watch the Sun(screen).

-We spend a lot more time outdoors during the summer months, which means more sun exposure. According to experts from the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey-School of Osteopathic Medicine (UMDNJ-SOM), you should protect against the sun’s harmful rays by:
–      Applying a sunscreen with a sun protection factor (SPF) of at least 15 against both types of ultraviolet rays (UVA and UVB).
–      Avoiding midday sun exposure (between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m.).
–      Wearing protective clothing, including a hat and sunglasses.
–      Reapplying sunscreen every two or three hours, or more frequently when swimming or perspiring heavily.
–      Taking frequent breaks and drinking water or other non-alcoholic or caffeine-free liquids when working or exercising outside.

To find out more about sunscreens, you should read the Environmental Working Group’s Skin Deep ( and check out their review of more than 1,800 sunscreens and SPF lip balms, moisturizers and makeups ( ).

2.    Working Out in the Heat?
Here are a few tips and warning signs from the experts at New York-Presbyterian Hospital (NYPH) and The Methodist Hospital in Houston (MH):

–      Wear sunscreen and remember to apply it to your entire body throughout the day. Having a sunburn will decrease your body’s ability to cool itself off. (NYPH)
–      If you realize your pulse rate in the morning is 10 to 15 beats higher than your normal rate, you should not that day. Normal pulse rate is around 70 to 90 beats per minute. (MH)
–      Make sure you are sweating properly. If you stop sweating when you are exercising, you are dehydrated. (MH)
–      Forget the “no pain, no gain” mantra. Recognize warning signs and take the appropriate action immediately. (MH)
–      Get acclimated to the heat as you begin an exercise regimen. Start off with 15 minutes, and slowly work your way up to 45 minutes or an hour. (MH)
–      Take your workout indoors. When it is too hot or humid outside, exercise in a cool, air-conditioned space. Extreme temperatures can alter your circulation, increasing the work of your heart and making breathing more difficult. (NYPH)
–      Avoid exercising between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m., the hottest part of the day. (MH)

3.    Are You Hungry or Just Thirsty?
We often mistake thirst for hunger, especially during the warm summer months. Don’t eat when what you really want is to drink.

4.    Stay Hydrated.
According to the Institute of Medicine of the National Academies, women should consume 91 ounces of water a day, and men need 125 ounces — a good deal more than the 64 ounces (8 cups) generally recommended.

5.    Injured? Try R.I.C.E.
Dr. William Levine, chief of sports medicine at New York-Presbyterian Hospital/Columbia University Medical Center, recommends that for tennis elbow, runner’s knee and similar injuries, you should try R.I.C.E. — Rest, Ice, Compression and Elevation. “Rest means that the injured area is not put through any undue strain. When icing a body part, apply the ice in a covering so that it is not in direct contact with the skin. A cotton handkerchief covering the ice is helpful. Ice the affected area several times a day, for about 20 minutes at a time. Compression is applying pressure to the injured area to stop bleeding (if any is occurring) or to reduce swelling. Elevation helps in these respects as well. Compression and elevation are to be used in the case of acute injuries, such as a twisted ankle.”

6.    Summer BBQ and Picnic Eating.
Top frankfurters with sauerkraut, ketchup, mustard and/or relish. Stay away from cheesy sauces and chili. For burgers, use the leanest beef you can find, and mix in finely chopped vegetables such as mushrooms, onions and peppers to increase nutrients and lower the calorie content without reducing the volume. Watch out for barbecued ribs. Just six medium ribs have more than 1,000 calories. One 3.5-ounce fried chicken breast has about 250 calories, and one drumstick with skin has about 200 calories. Pasta salad? For 1 cup, depending on ingredients, you’re looking at 500-650 calories. Use 100 percent whole-wheat pasta and light vinaigrette or low-calorie Italian dressing. Baked beans can be 300 calories per cup. Coleslaw can be more than 350 calories per cup. Use light or nonfat mayonnaise, and make it yourself. Use healthy, low-calorie marinades instead of oil and butter to flavor foods.

7.    Grilling.
Try grilling your food to avoid excessive grease, but make sure not to burn or char it (considering the potential health risks of eating burnt meat). Cut off any charred portions before eating. To avoid burning, remove fat, brush with low-calorie marinades and use a meat thermometer. Also, cook at low temperatures for longer periods, and try using thinner cuts of meat and poultry. You can also try Williams-Sonoma’s Jumbo Chef’s Press and cook food 20 to 30 percent faster (, $39.96).

8.    Eat Watermelon.
It’s only 92 calories per 2-cup serving, and it fills you up because it’s 92 percent water, which will also help to rehydrate your body on a hot summer day. On average, watermelon has 7.5 to 10 milligrams of the antioxidant lycopene per cup ­ that’s about 40 percent more than is found in raw tomatoes. When you’re choosing watermelon, look for firm, juicy, red flesh without white streaks and skin without cracks, bruises or mold.

9.    Try Some Fun Summer Calorie Burners.
How many calories these activities burn per hour:
–      Gardening: 281 calories
–      Beach volleyball: 562 calories
–      Frisbee: 210 calories
–      Bodysurfing: 212 calories
–      Bicycling: 421 calories
–      Kadima (beach paddle tennis): 240 calories
–      Kayaking: 352 calories
–      Golf (walking and carrying clubs): 316 calories
–      Hiking: 422 calories
–      Canoeing: 211 to 490 calories
–      Tennis: 492 calories
–      Rowing: 492 calories
–      Water-skiing: 422 calories
–      Snorkeling: 352 calories
–      Water volleyball: 211 calories

10. Strength Train.

Jordan D. Metzl, M.D., a sports medicine physician at the Hospital for Special Surgery, recommends building functional strength as the key to an injury-free summer. Do lots of repetitions along with light weight workouts.

11. Circuit Train.

Looking for a total summer body workout? Check out this circuit-training routine from the American Council on Exercise:

Rate this post

You may also like

Subscribe To The Weekly Food & Nutrition News and Research Digest
Our weekly email news and research digest is everything you need to know about food, nutrition, fitness and health.
No Thanks
Thanks for signing up. You must confirm your email address before we can send you. Please check your email and follow the instructions.
We respect your privacy. Your information is safe and will NEVER be shared.
Don't miss out. Subscribe today.