Early Morning House Call: Summer Nutrition Tips

By: Dr. Alan Xenakis Email
By: Dr. Alan Xenakis Email

Summer offers a horn plenty of nutritious foods, including berries (loaded with antioxidants), tomatoes, sweet bell peppers (good vitamin C source), and protein-filled grilled fish.

When we select the right ones, we add to our daily diet strategies that help prevent or reduce common summer afflictions:

Dry or Damaged Skin
Main causes: We sweat more in the summer so our skin becomes more dehydrated and is less supple. When we introduce saltwater from the ocean or chlorine from the pool we have an added drying effect. Coupled with dry skin, harmful sun rays and bug bites are also wreak havoc with our healthy skin.

What to eat: The berry family, such as raspberries, blueberries, and strawberries, which are rich in antioxidants and vitamin C help heal weathered skin. Protein from lean meats, beans, nuts, and seeds, is also very helpful. Drinking lots of water (8-10 cups) of water is also key to preventing dehydration. Since the body’s calcium and magnesium are also frequently lost through sweating, it's a good idea to replace them by eating low-fat dairy products like skim milk, yogurt, and cottage cheese.

Yeast Infections
Main causes: Relaxing is fun but doing it in a wet bathing suit provides a perfect environment for yeast overgrowth.

What to eat: Reducing sugary foods helps create conditions less desirable for yeast to find an unwanted home on your body.

Scorched Hair
Main causes: Exposure to sun, wind, saltwater, and chlorine.

What to eat: Protein-rich meals because our hair consists of protein fibers called keratin. Eating foods rich in vitamin B-5 (found in yogurt and California avocados), vitamin B-8 (in liver and cooked eggs), folic acid (in fortified cereals and beans), calcium (in milk and yogurt), and zinc (in meat and fish) can reduce hair loss and replace dull hair with shiny hair.

Muscle Cramps
Main causes: Muscle cramps result from exertion of our muscles coupled with dehydration and loss of key electrolytes. When we lose fluid in our system, it often leads to an electrolyte imbalance of calcium, magnesium, potassium, and sodium causing our muscles to cramp up.

What to eat: Replenish electrolytes with fresh fruits and salads and drink plenty of water.

Eye Damage
Main causes: Age-related macular degeneration is the most common cause of vision loss and blindness in people over the age of 55. This occurs when the central part of the retina (macula) becomes damaged and our eyes see blurred objects.

What to eat: The retina is actually made up of vitamin A so foods rich in this vitamin -- along with beta-carotene, zinc, and Vitamins C and E -- are beneficial to the eyes. Good sources are dark green vegetables like kale, chard, and mustard greens, plus bell peppers, carrots, and blueberries. Eat eggs and tomatoes for their high dose of lutein, an important antioxidant that also helps prevent eye damage.

Cold Sores
Main causes: The stress of sun exposure often triggers cold sores in people who are prone to them.

What to eat: The amino acid L-lysine has been shown in some small studies to help. A deficiency in B vitamins and riboflavin can make us susceptible to cold sores. Eating fortified cereals and bread or taking a B-complex vitamin helps.

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