Minimize Sun Damage
May 01, 2008
It’s that time again. Time to enjoy the outdoors - the beaches, parks, swimming pools and backyard barbecues…. The sun. If you are like me, you enjoy feeling a little heat on your skin and getting that ‘glow’ of the season. And, if you are really like me, you might often forget what might come along with getting the suntan and staying outdoors for long periods of time – sunburns and dehydration. Here are some ways to protect yourself – inside and out.
As you might know, sun damage leads to premature aging of the skin, wrinkles, spots, and even cancers in susceptible people. It is important to protect your skin from these damaging effects, no matter your skin color.
• Always protect your skin from the sun by using a daily SPF of at least 15 on your face and any exposed skin (ideal for everyday use with minimal sun exposure). Many sun-induced skin cancers are seen on the left side of our bodies (don’t forget to apply SPF to your ears, hands, forearms) since that is the side that is most exposed to the sun … while driving!
• If you are going to be out in the sun for a long period of time, it’s best to use an SPF of at least 30 and reapply it often, such as every 2 hours and after sweating or swimming as well.
• Even on cloudy days you can get sun damage. Wear sunglasses and a hat for extra protection.
• It is best to avoid the sun between the peak hours of 10 a.m. and 2 p.m.
Most of us can get quite dehydrated especially during the summer months. Drinking lots of fluids is important, but the type of fluids you and your family consume is most important.
• Drinking soda to quench your thirst is not your best option. Did you know that soft drink manufacturers are the largest single user of sugar in our country? Sugar is associated with premature aging as well as many more negative side effects like weight gain, diabetes and high cholesterol and blood pressure. Another major component in soda: phosphoric acid. Too much of this interferes with our body’s use of calcium, making us prone to osteoporosis or softening teeth and bones. In addition, phosphoric acid makes the hydrochloric acid in our stomach more neutral, which can cause problems with the utilization of nutrients. If you aren’t sold yet, oxalate (an acid found in darker colas) can lead to calcium oxalate kidney stone formation … ouch.
• Alcohol is also not a good choice – It is actually a diuretic, meaning it gets your body to lose more water than normal. Drinking alcohol also affects the delicate balance we have between vitamins and minerals, which can lead to the loss of potassium. This will make you dizzy, feel faint, thirsty and may give you muscle cramps. The liver is responsible for removing alcohol from your body and needs water to do it. Being dehydrated your liver will get the water it needs from other organs -including your brain- which can lead to headaches.
• Water is your best bet. Drink eight 8-ounce glasses every day, especially on hot days and on days you exercise more. If that sounds like too much, replace a few glasses with decaffeinated sugar-free drinks such as an herbal iced tea, or add some lime or lemon wedges to your water for some flavor.