A Healthy Summer By Nutritional Therapist Zoë Stirling
Without speaking too soon, it feels like spring is here and summer is now on its way and with that our bodies start to make the transition from a storage or hibernation phase to a lighter and more energised mode with longer daylight hours and more time spent outdoors. Naturally our bodies need to adapt to the change in temperature, daylight hours and increased energy levels so here are a few tips to keep you healthy throughout the summer months…..
Opt for foods that are hydrating and cooling:
With the rising temperatures your body will naturally need more fluids to keep it hydrated. This can of course come through drinking more water (see next tip) but you can also boost your water intake through eating more foods with a higher water content. These include items such as cucumbers, romaine lettuce, celery, radishes and melon, particularly watermelon. Get experimental with these foods – you can add cucumber to smoothies or why not try a grilled watermelon, feta and pine nut salad with some fresh mint to garnish.
Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate:
This is easier said than done for some and no, fizzy drinks and a glass of rosé don’t contribute to your water intake for the day unfortunately! If you struggle to sip on water through the day then try and make it a little more exciting without packing in too many extra calories. Naturally flavouring water with fresh lemon or lime, cucumber and mint are great ways to add some zing to your water as well as giving it a nutritional boost too!
Balance your fruit and vegetables:
With so many wonderful seasonal fruits around during the summer season, it’s hard to resist living solely off them. Although you don’t have to avoid fruit by any means given it contains its own spectrum of useful nutritional benefits but just make sure you balance your intake of fruit alongside vegetables to maintain healthy blood sugar levels. Be mindful of fruit juices; that’s pure sugar (with some vitamins and minerals of course) without the fibre to help keep your blood sugar levels more balanced. If you’re going to have fruit juice then why not try mixing it into a smoothie containing other vegetables, nuts and seeds as this will keep you feeling fuller for longer.
Top up on vitamin D stores:
One of the best things about summer is that you can get outside and enjoy the sunshine, which also (conveniently) happens to be the best source of vitamin D! Although care must be taken to protect the skin from sunburn, just 5-10 minutes of sun exposure daily without any sun cream is great for helping us top up our vitamin D levels. Low vitamin D has been associated with a number of health issues including poor immunity, fatigue and depression, to name just a few, so use these summer months to boost your levels safely.
We’re so used to having every type of fruit and vegetable available to us on our supermarket shelves…. however, food that is grown in the best seasonal conditions and that is less travelled, better retains its nutritional content. During the summer months (June, July & August) foods such as: strawberries, peaches, artichokes, asparagus, aubergine, French beans, peas and watercress are all considered seasonal foods. A great reference for seasonal produce is on the BBC Food page or for anyone who wants to keep their finger on the pulse then sign up for seasonal updates direct from the sellers at New Covent Garden Market.
Wash your fruit & veg:
You’re eating more fresh fruit and vegetables, that’s great! But you should also be mindful about how your fresh produce is grown. Many farming methods these days use pesticides and chemicals to improve the yield of crops, which unfortunately is being linked more and more in research to health problems. It’s therefore important to wash your fruit and vegetables thoroughly to remove as much of these chemicals as possible (some people even like to use a specific natural fruit and vegetable wash). Some fruit and vegetables contain a higher accumulation of pesticides and chemicals compared to others; a very useful list to refer to is the EWG’s (Environmental Working Group) guide called the ‘Clean 15 and the Dirty Dozen’.
Click here to find out how to sign up to attend our exclusive nutritional talk with Zoe which includes a free salad lunch handmade by her South Kensington healthy hangout The Squirrel.
Last updated Sunday 8 October, 2023