Happy Summer Solstice! I hope you all have transitioned smoothly through the unpredictability of Spring and into Summer where the heat turns up and, for some of us, travel begins. Summer brings changes in weather and activity which affect our health in different ways. In this post, I will be focusing mainly on how to best protect our skin during the summer months and ways to stay healthy during travel.
Since summer brings increased sunshine and temperature we see more skin symptoms with excess heat signs such as rashes, psoriasis, eczema, acne, age spots, dry skin and several more. All of these skin conditions have slightly different underlying factors contributing to them however they all can be triggered by excess heat. For example, acne usually involves the liver, hormonal imbalances, diet and gastrointestinal health where psoriasis usually involves the immune system, environmental stressors, gastrointestinal tract and the lymph system. Get in touch with your doctor if you have specific skin concerns.
- What we eat is incredibly important for our skin. Eat a diet rich in organic fresh fruits (1-3 servings per day) and vegetables (4-6 servings per day) as these antioxidants protect our skin from damage, especially from the sun.
- Consuming enough healthy fats are foundational to keep our skin hydrated and to increase protection from environmental pollutants and the sun’s rays.
- Heavy fats should be avoided in summer but fats such as ghee, avocado, fish and olive oils should be incorporated into meals to protect your skin and the lining of your gastrointestinal tract.
- Drink plenty of fluids. For most people ½ your body weight in ounces of water per day is sufficient.
- Use coconut oil to self-massage as this will increase moisture in the skin and provide a barrier from the sun and dry air. Coconut oil does have an spf of 15 in case you were wondering ?
- Avoid air conditioning or give supplemental care if you will be spending most of your time with this living space cooling device. Air conditioning uses dry cold air which pulls moisture from our skin.
- For sun burns, neem oil topically can help repair skin and turmeric(curcumin) both topical and oral can help protect skin prior to a sunburn and repair skin after.
- Avoid sun screens that are not made with natural products as most contain carcinogens. What is best, is to start with small sessions of sun time to acclimate your skin to the sun. The goal is not a tan but just start with 3-5 minutes. Add a bit more each day or week to activate melanocytes and get some Vitamin D. Again, not looking to tan or burn with these small sessions.
Traveling throws us out of our routines of food and sleep and time. We can feel increased stress and anxiety, constipation, feel “jet lagged” and experience difficulty sleeping. Depending on where we are traveling we may even be concerned about infections and insect protection. Below I have listed some helpful travel tips to stay balanced and support systems that need it during travel. As always, your constitution should always guide treatment. If you have questions about what your constitution is and what therapies may be best for you specifically, please contact your doctor to help guide individualized treatment.
- Walking is wonderful. A great way to explore a new place and it is incredibly balancing for all constitutions.
- Sun salutations are excellent to do in the morning when adapting to a new time zone (Check out this great tutorial on Sun Salutations)
- Eating a high protein (with good fats) diet for breakfast and lunch and with a lighter complex carbohydrate for dinner the day before travel reduces jet lag
- Drink plenty of fluids. For most people ½ your body weight in ounces of water per day is suffice.
- Day before or day of travel lubricate your body with oils after a bath or shower(for most of us coconut oil is best during the summer as it is cooling)
- When traveling to a different time zone you want to orient your pineal gland to where you are to decrease the feeling of jet lag, so right when you land(if during day) find where the sun is, look at it and blink 3-4 times while continuing to look at the sun, then go on your way and enjoy the trip
Ask your doctor which herbs and doses may be best for you and your specific travel plans. Here are some that have beneficial properties during travel.
- Ashwagandha: Promotes good sleep and nourishes adrenal glands and immune system
- Neem: Prevents Bug bites. Balancing for skin and gastrointestinal tract(start this 7-10 days before leaving on trip)
- Saffron: Great to drink with goat milk or milk alternative at night- balances hormones and relaxes the mind.
- Shilajit: For altitude sickness
- Triphala: For constipation and digestive support
If you are traveling to a place where you are concerned about infections such as parasites, ask your doctor what preventative measure you can take before and during travel to avoid these critters.
Also, if you are interested in a travel kit let us know!
I hope you all have a beautiful summer, stay healthy and enjoy the sun.
My name is Dr. Sara Koorjee and I am a Naturopathic Doctor here at Whole Life Health MD. I look forward to seeing your faces, hearing your stories and being a part of your healing.