When I think sickness, I usually don’t think of summer. Like me, most people classify colds, the sniffles, and viral infections as wintertime maladies that rarely appear in the summertime. Generally speaking, we tend be believe that warmth is akin to health and cold symbolizes sickness.
But a trip to the doctor’s office last week proved me wrong. A patient in the exam room beside me was coughing heavily. And just a few days before that, on a plane ride, the man beside me was snorting and blowing his nose like you would with a bad cold—and it’s July!
So what gives? Is your body just as prone to infections and illness in the summer as it is in the winter? Surprisingly, yes!
No matter what time of the year it is, you can get sick. In the summer months, your body is prone to illness and fatigue, and it takes a strong and healthy immune system to combat the toll that heat takes on your body. Luckily, there are many ways you can give your immune system that extra boost this summer, starting with these three simple steps.
Staying hydrated is imperative to staying healthy and enhancing immunity during the summer months. Your body gets rid of a lot of water during the hot summer days and nights, so making sure you take in fluids throughout the day helps keep you healthy and functional. Water is the motor oil for your body, providing energy for your muscles, joints and mind to function optimally without struggle. When you’re dizzy, experiencing cramping, or feeling uncomfortable in the summer, it’s usually because you’re dehydrated. Of course, not all beverages are good for hydration, so unless you’re getting intense exercise, steer clear of sodium-loaded sports drinks. Also avoid drinking too much alcohol or beverages that are high in sugar.
Eat Lots of Fruits and Vegetables
Often more accessible and garden-fresh in the summer, fruits and vegetables are often a tastier immune system booster in the summer months. When you’re planning meals this summer, try to make them as colorful as possible by selecting vitamin- and nutrient-rich foods, like romaine lettuce, spinach, watermelon, strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, tomatoes, and bell peppers. These are just a few colorful examples of dietary options that can boost your immune system and keep you free from illness. Experiment by adding fruits to your salads, making salads your meals, and offering colorful, sweet fruits and veggies for dessert!
Balance Activity and Sleep
Staying active and getting sufficient sleep also helps keep your immune system firing on all cylinders. When you’re active and using your body to get exercise it gets the blood flowing, which sends out white blood cells to find and remove toxins. Activity also increases your body temperature to help you burn calories, limit inflammation, and create a stronger, more efficient you! When you’re active, though, your body also needs a good amount of rest to recover and regain strength, meaning that getting lots of sleep is extremely important to immune health, too. It’s during your sleep that your cells regenerate and recover from the stresses and demands of the day, so be sure to balance lots of activity with a good amount of sleep.
Keep your immune system functioning at a high level and protect yourself from catching an illness that could sabotage your summer. Eat right, stay hydrated, and get a good balance of activity and rest to stay healthy and get the most from the season!
Source for Today’s Article:
Horswell, C., “Hydration and Health,” American Journal of Lifestyle Medicine July-August 2011; http://ajl.sagepub.com/content/5/4/304.abstract, last accessed July 2, 2014.