Be healthy outdoors

Dr. Brenda Gill
By Dr. Brenda Gill
August 16th, 2010

Now that it’s finally summer with that intense sunshine again, many of us are taking advantage of the weather and are outside as much as possible. Whether it ‘s walking in the woods, mountain biking, golfing, fishing, swimming or tennis, it’s better to prevent common problems and be ready for incidents as they occur. Hopefully, this column will give you some useful tips! Also, for those nasty little incidents, the following should also help!

  1. Preventatively

  • Protect yourself against skin damage by increasing your sources of beta-carotene either by eating more green leafy and orange/yellow/red veggies such as kale/swiss chard/spinach/cilantro/parsley or including carrots/squash/peppers in your diet. Otherwise, to prevent burning consider a beta-carotene supplement. These all act as anti-oxidants that pick up free radicals that are produced when exposed to UV radiation and remove them from the body, thus, preventing burning/damage. Similar to beta-carotene is Vitamin A that I use in drop form.

  • Vitamin E, Vitamin C and other bioflavinoids are also anti-oxidants that act like a sunscreen. Vit E is high in fish/nuts & seeds, Vit C & other bioflavinoids in any brightly coloured fruit such as cherries/berries/plums. These can also be supplemented. As you know reading my articles, it is best to have natural forms and Vit C needs to be a neutral source, in other words, not citrus based. If you use a citrus based Vit C it will make you acidic which will decrease the body’s ability to get rid of inflammation and metabolites such as lactic acid.

  • Eyes are also susceptible to sun damage, which can cause lens damage over time. Consider wearing properly UV protected sunglasses when in the direct sun. Also, Vitamin C helps to make collagen, which repairs and maintains the lens.

  • It is also important to have a certain amount of sunlight in the retina to help set our levels of hormones like melatonin and serotonin. Therefore, refrain from wearing sunglasses part of the time so some natural light enters the eye. It’s good to get at least 20 minutes outside everyday and the best time of day is during the early morning/late afternoon, when there is less intensity from the sun.

  • Try to mix one-sided sports like golf and tennis with activities that re-balance the muscles and alignment of the body like walking, hiking, swimming and yoga.

  • Regular stretching and a variety of activities prevent any muscle group to be strained. It’s good to rotate biking with running, for instance.

  • Always carry sufficient water and food for the intended activity. Try NOT to depend on quick replacements like sugar syrups. If necessary, at least use high protein bars such as Perfect 10’s or bars with high amounts of seeds and some type of protein powder such as hemp. I stay away from soy/whey protein unless they are organic. Otherwise, they will have high levels of chemicals in them. It’s best to eat a combination of real foods. Remember to drink ½ your weight in ounces/day. So, if you are 140’ you should be drinking 70 ounces of water/day or about 7 glasses. For every hour of exercise, you need another glass.

  • Be prepared for changes of weather with proper clothing layers and a wide brimmed sun hat.

More next time!

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