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Tip Sheet: Summer foods, proper hydration and sun safety

Nutrition: Staying healthy during the summer months
As outdoor activities increase, eating better during the summer months is crucial to staying healthy and in good physical condition. A simple change in exercise and what individuals eat can have a lasting impact for those trying to stay healthy this summer. 

Kristen Kizer, a Houston Methodist Hospital registered dietitian suggests these powerhouse foods for the summer. 

  • Swiss chard: It is rich in nutrients, antioxidants, and phytochemicals associated with improved health. One cup of Swiss chard is well over 300 percent of your daily vitamin K, as well as vitamin A, iron, magnesium, folic acid and potassium. Try sautéing it as a side dish with some fresh garlic and sliced onions.  
  • Spinach: In the wake of kale’s popularity, spinach has fallen to the wayside. However, it’s just as good for you. It has vitamins A, K, C, and B2, plus iron, magnesium and folic acid. It is very versatile and can be added to eggs, soups, pasta sauces, or raw on a sandwich.
  • Arugula: One of the most nutrient-dense foods in terms of vitamins, minerals, and phytochemical, this zesty green can be used as a salad base or mixed with grains like quinoa or farro. 

 

HypOnatremia: Avoiding over hydration 
During the summer, staying hydrated is crucial to avoiding heat-related illnesses. However, Dr. Vijay Jotwani, a Houston Methodist primary care sports medicine physician, reminds Houstonians that over-hydration can lead to a dangerous condition known as hyponatremia. Hyponatremia occurs when sodium in the blood is abnormally low. Sodium is an electrolyte that helps regulate the amount of water around your body’s cells.

Jotwani says hyponatremia can lead to mental confusion and even death in extreme cases. He advises listening to your body by drinking to thirst, rather than pushing yourself to drink fluids constantly. Alternating between sport electrolyte drinks and water can help prevent the condition as well. 

Sunburn prevention: Hell’s itch 
Up to 10 percent of sunburn sufferers can experience an unexpected symptom – itching. Commonly known as hell’s itch, this symptom typically shows up anywhere from 24 to 72 hours after being in the sun and can lead to sufferers feeling as if the scratch is agonizingly un-scratchable. To prevent this symptom and other damage caused by sunburns, Dr. Paul Friedman, a Houston Methodist dermatologist, says most sunburns can be prevented by using good sun sense. His tips include using a sunscreen with a SPF of 30 or higher, applying enough sunscreen to provide proper coverage, reapplying sunscreen every two hours, and seek shade. Patients who are suffering from hell’s itch can be prescribed a strong steroid cream to help combat the painful itching."