As the days turn warmer and the threat of sprinter (spring/winter) snow showers diminish we look forward to those cherished summer days of fun in the sun here in southwest Montana! Summer fun includes camping, fishing, hiking, swimming, boating, BBQ, horseback riding, outdoor games, rodeo’s, parades and endless summer days. All the fun in the sun is great but we also want to make sure we stay healthy so we can enjoy the fun and not be sitting on the sidelines watching summer pass us by because we don’t feel well.
There are many summer booby traps that can interrupt our optimal physiology and take us one step closer to not feeling well. Often these physiological disrupters are in places we least expect, however there are many natural and better choices we can make to keep us healthy! Hidden health challenges from summer fun activities come from things we consume from our food, or put on our skin, or breath into our lungs, or walk on and absorb through our skin.
One of the best summer activities is having a BBQ with good friends and family. Unfortunately many BBQ foods are not healthy for us. Soft drinks like soda, and even worse, diet soda are terrible for our health. If you have ever cringed at your children eating a sugar packet just remember that a 12oz soda can has the equivalent of 7 sugar packets in it. Sugar not only rots your teeth, but it is very inflammatory, it weakens your immune system, and affects your body’s ability to stabilize its own blood sugar and keep your energy up. Aspartame although it has no calories and does not spike your blood sugar, gets broken down into 4 terrible molecules; formaldehyde (embalming fluid), fumaric acid (fire ant venom), aspartate and glutamate which are excitatory neurotransmitters causing over firing of our brain cells leading to cell death.
Besides sugar many BBQ foods contain trans fats (partially hydrogenated oils). Trans fats are oils that should be liquid at room temperature but have gone through a process of hydrogenation changing the cell shape to now be solid at room temperature. These oils are very inflammatory, and affect your hormone balance and brain health too.
When eating food the BBQ make sure to not over grill your meat either. Chard food is known to be carcinogenic, causing heterocyclic amines and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons both of which are highly carcinogenic. Don’t over cook your food or let it get burned on the grill, low and slow is always the recipe for tasty healthy meat.
Our Skin is the largest organ of the body. It is very important at eliminating toxins, but it is also highly absorptive and will pull things directly into the body like oils and lotions and bug sprays. Because the skin is so highly absorptive it is imperative that we think about what we put on it. When out and about in the wonderful summer weather we truly do want to protect our body from getting burned, but many sunscreen’s have known endocrine (hormone) and neurotransmitter disrupting molecules in them. These include oxybenzone and parabens, as well as ingredients like sodium lauryl sulfate and propylene glycol. Many lotions and cosmetics also use hydrogenated oils that absorb through the skin and affect our physiology just like when they are in our food. If the sunscreen you are wearing contains these chemicals you are doing more harm for your body then good. The only safe effective ingredient that works to block damaging sun rays is zinc oxide however it often leaves a white residue on your skin making it unpopular to use in our glamor based society. There are some zinc oxide based lotions that absorb and leave less of a residue than others it takes a little experimenting on finding the right product for you. Wearing hats and light loose clothing to protect your skin from direct sun exposure especially during the middle of the day between 10am-3pm is also a good idea to limit exposure.
Bug repellant is often used during the summer to keep pesky bugs and mosquito’s away. Many bug repellants also contain many harmful chemicals that will be absorbed through your skin also. DEET is a chemical bug repellant that has been around since the 1950’s but there is question to its affect on the nervous system. If you’re going to use it, it would be better to apply it to clothing instead of your skin. However there are some natural bug repellants from essential oils that work very well to also repel bugs. Combinations of Ylang ylang, lemon, eucalyptus, tumanu, nootka, arborvitae, cedar wood, and catnip have been proven very useful.
Toxins are everywhere in our society, the best thing we can do is avoid chemicals wherever possible. Because we don’t live in a bubble the next best thing we can do is try and limit our exposure to these chemicals by choosing foods that have been exposed to less chemicals, like organic vegetables and grass fed free range meet. Keep your body from having direct skin exposure to chemicals, don’t walk barefoot on freshly fertilized soils, don’t put lotions and cosmetics on your skin that have known hormone disrupters, and wear appropriate clothing to keep you comfortable and safe from chemicals. Making healthy choices during your summer adventures will keep you feeling good from the start of the summer to the end of the summer, and all year long, living a life that is healthy, natural, and optimal.
Dr. Phil Cameron DC is the owner of the Bozeman Wellness Center. He is a Chiropractic Physician and Professional Applied Kinesiologist. He treats every patient based on his or her individual healthcare needs and strives to help each patient Live Healthy, Live Naturally, and Live Optimally. Visit www.bozemanwellnesscenter.com for more information.