Holistic Health Hacks for Summer Wellness
I feel that summer on the East Coast is a tale of two halves - we can have wonderful warm sunny days when all we want to do is be outside and feel the sun on our skin, followed by crazy humidity when all we want to do is stay inside with the air conditioning.
When I first moved to Boston I was NOT prepared for the humidity, it's not something we experience in grey and rainy London! I remember saying to Husband Hanway when I first arrived that I was probably wouldn't put the air conditioning on, that I would rather just put open the window and get some fresh air!
Personally, I think the key to enjoying the summer is to grab hold of those gorgeous days when you can, get outside and get that Vitamin D, and pair this with some targeted wellness strategies that will help keep you cool and keep your energy up when the humidity rises.
Incorporate Seasonal Eating
Summer is the perfect time to incorporate more local, seasonal produce into your diet. Here in Massachusetts we have an abundance of wonderful local produce at this time of year, including berries, broccoli, corn and salad greens.
There are so many reasons to eat locally grown produce, not only does it support the local farming community (remember, no farms = no food), but it promotes a whole host of health benefits. In the summer we see a wealth of super hydrating and cooling foods such as cucumbers and watermelon, and cleansing, alkalizing astringents such as arugula and radishes.
I love to have a huge salad for at least one meal a day in the summer and find that I can digest it much better at this time of year as opposed to in the winter. Just ensure you are having adequate fat in the salad such as goats cheese, avocado or olive oil, as we need these fats to make certain vitamins and minerals bio available to the body.
Humidity can also cause us to hold on to excess water (I really struggle with this), and one way to combat this is to eat a lower carb diet in the summer (carbohydrate rich foods can make us hold on to excess water). Lower carb diets are also a great way to improve your blood sugar stability and insulin sensitivity, and it is easier to start a diet like this and stick to it so it becomes a habit at this time of year, rather than in the winter when we crave more filling comfort foods.
In these warmer, more humid months it can be hard to stay properly hydrated (especially when working out). Drinking a ton of water can help, but you may find you are just sweating it straight out and losing minerals and electrolytes.
To combat this I like to add a little lime juice and Himalayan salt to my water. The lime juice is alkalizing, and the Himalayan salt adds much-needed minerals such as sodium and potassium that will keep your adrenal glands happy and healthy. If you are planning on going for a long run or hike add a little local organic honey for energy.
Adding lemon, lime, mint and cucumber to your water can also help you up your intake, but my favourite thing to do in the summer is to make a big batch of iced herbal tea to last me through the day. I love fennel and dandelion to help with water retention, bloating and digestion, and Pau D'Arco tea is another great option that strengthens the immune systems and helps rid the body of excess damp, which can exacerbate fungus and candida.
Supplement With Sunshine
In the summer months I recommend my clients slim down their supplement regime: a great multi vitamin, magnesium and a probiotic is really all that is needed if they are seating seasonally.
My one caveat to this is to get outside and get some sunshine! Vitamin D is one of our most important micronutrients (it actually works more like a hormone in the body), and at this time of year it is wonderful for both our physical and mental health to get it straight from the source!
Adequate levels of Vitamin D are vital for bone density, muscle mass, lean muscle development, blood sugar regulation and insulin sensitivity, and mental health and happiness.
One supplement I do take more of during the summer is magnesium, as you lose a lot when you sweat. Magnesium is needed for over 300 metabolic processes in the body, and up to 70% of the population is deficient (all my client's blood work shows magnesium deficiency).
My favourite magnesium products both come from the Poliquin Group, they are the Uber Mag PX, and the Topical Magnesium. When looking at the amount of magnesium to take for most people 10mg per kg of bodyweight is my suggested amount, but as with any supplement or superfood powder I would recommend to gradually titrate up.
Its okay to sweat!
Sweating is actually a very healthy process for the body, and helps to regulate temperature and detoxify. I actually used to barely sweat which made me hold onto a lot of toxins and some excess fat until I put myself through a gut healing and estrogen detoxifying protocol. Now sweat a healthy amount (!), and have reduced the amount of cellulite on the back of my legs.
I love a good HIIT workout twice a week to help me sweat (if you follow my Instagram stories you will have seen my 'Peloton in my Pants), and I try to spend 20-25 minutes in an infrared sauna twice a week too.
Switch Your Workouts
The lighter mornings lend themselves to outdoor exercise! If you run or do cardio in the evenings try switching to the mornings. Daylight is the master regulator of your circadian rhythm, and exposing yourself to sunlight at the start of your day will result in more energy and a great night of sleep. You will also reap the benefits of extra Vitamin D and a raised metabolism throughout the day!
It is also more likely to be cooler in the mornings, and your willpower and energy levels are at their highest. Having a cold shower after working out will lower body temperature, boost circulation, tighten skin and again regulate circadian rhythm.
Smart Sun Exposure
Having lived in Tulum, Mexico when I was working at Amansala's Bikini Bootcamp where I literally lived on the beach, and spent time traveling in India and South America my face and chest have had a lot of sun exposure, so I chose to use SPF 30 on these areas all round. However, I truly believe in both the mental and physical benefits of getting sunlight on your skin, so I choose to not use sunscreen on my legs if I am outside and walking around.
You can get 15% off Organic Sunscreens (and all products) at my favourite Clean Beauty Store Salty Girl Boutique by using the code 'Well15'!
65 degrees is the ideal temperature for your bedroom. It promotes restful sleep, and renewal and regeneration for brain and body. Keeping curtains closed and doors shut can keep the room cool during the day, and if you struggle to regulate your body temperature at night soaking your wrists and ankles in iced water before bed can help immensely.
Lower Cortisol by Connecting
It might just be me, but I have a way more active social life in the summer! In the midst of winter (especially a Boston winter) I like to be snuggled up at home as much as possible, but in the summer you will find me joining my friends and family for dinner, drinks, hiking, and even SUP! Connecting with loved ones releases the hormone oxytocin, which decreases the stress hormone cortisol, and has amazing positive effects on our mental health and general wellbeing.