6 Summer Wellness Tips

I absolutely love summer! The warm, sunny weather and fresh seasonal produce are things I look forward to. While summer is a joyous time, the hotter weather can take a toll on our health: both physical and mental. Here are a few summer wellness tips to help you feel your very best this summer!

Summer wellness tip 1: Get enough vitamin D

Vitamin D is an essential nutrient that supports proper bodily functioning—everything from immunity to mood to defending cells against cancer. Although most of the nutrients our body needs are available via the food we eat, vitamin D is primarily obtained via sun exposure.

The first thing you can do to get more vitamin D is to spend some time outside, but don’t forget your sunscreen! 

Eat Vitamin D rich foods

You can also get vitamin foods rich in vitamin D, such as:

  • Vegetables: Especially Leafy greens and tomatoes 
  • Healthy fats rich in Omega-3s: Good sources include fish (like sardines and salmon), eggs, flaxseed and walnuts. 
  • Other healthy saturated fat: Fats like coconut oil, avocado oil and organic grass-fed butter
  • Antioxidant-rich foods: Beans, berries, nuts and green or black tea 

Summer wellness tip 2: Protect your skin when outdoors

Cover up

One of the best natural methods of sun care is to cover up your body. So, if you’re going to be in the sun for an extended period of time, it’s best to wear a hat, sunglasses and cover up your neck, shoulders, arms and any other part of your body that will get direct sunlight. Typical summer fabric has an SPF between 4 and 7. Generally, the tighter-knit the fabric, the higher the protection.

Build up sun exposure

It’s also important to build up sun exposure slowly. So start off spending a few minutes outdoors and increase this gradually.

This gives your skin time to respond by producing more melanin, which will result in increased levels of sun protection. 

Wear an SPF sunscreen

An SPF number indicates how long the sun’s UV radiation would take to redden your skin. For instance, an SPF 30 sunscreen allows about 3 % of UVB rays to hit your skin, giving you 97% protection against UVB rays. Most dermatologists recommend using sunscreen with an SPF of at least 30.

Summer wellness tip 3: Stay hydrated

Proper hydration is vital any time of year, especially since the human body is made up of two-thirds water, and we need it for all bodily functioning. Adequate hydration is especially important in the summertime sun and heat.

Water (in litre) to drink a day equals your weight (in kg) multiplied by 0.033. For example, a person that weighs 60 kg should drink about two litres of water every day. Remember to boost your water intake even more if you spend time in the heat—especially exercising or exerting yourself in the heat. 

Bonus tip: A simple tip to make staying hydrated easier is to use a healthy fruit infused water recipe. Many people find fruit infused water more enjoyable to sip on throughout the day, and the fruit provides some additional health benefits!

Summer wellness tip 4: Add more fresh fruits and veggies to your diet

No matter what season it is, it’s essential that we include enough fruits and vegetables in our diets. 

Eat a rainbow of colourful vegetables and fill half your plate with veggies. In addition, smoothies are a great way to incorporate more fruit into your diet.

Look out for these summer seasonal produces items:

Fruits: Apples, apricots, avocados, bananas, Cape gooseberries, cherries, coconuts, dates, grapefruit, guavas, lemons, limes, naartjies, nectarines, oranges, pawpaw or papaya, pears, pineapples, plums, strawberries, sweet melon, watermelon.

Vegetables: Asparagus, Brinjal (eggplant), baby marrows, beans, beetroot, brussels sprouts, cabbage, carrots, cauliflower, celery, corn, cucumber, kale spinach, leeks, lettuce, parsnips, potato, pumpkin, radishes, red onions, rhubarb, turnips, watercress.

Summer wellness tip 5: Develop an exercise routine

We all dream of having that summer-ready body that we can show off at the beach. Make this dream a reality by starting an exercise programme at home or at the gym. Start off with easier workouts and work your way up to more advanced exercises. Find an exercise buddy to make it more interesting and keep you motivated. 

Summer wellness tip 6: Practice self-care

These simple self-care tips can help you feel better physically, emotionally and mentally.

Create a spa environment: Using a face mask, taking a bubble bath, or doing a DIY mani/pedi are all affordable ways to help yourself feel cared for. 

Practice mindfulness: Try meditating or make a list of 10 things you are thankful for. Check out my article on Maintaining a Healthy Mind.

Get grooving to some jams: Make a feel-good playlist to brighten up your mood. 

Go road-tripping: Pull up a map and find a new area that you haven’t been to yet. 

Go for a stroll.: A long walk is a great way to clear your mind and enjoy a warm summer afternoon.

Check out your local farmer’s market. Take advantage of seasonal local vendors and their seasonal produce. Use your purchased items to cook up a storm! Check out some inspiration for creating summer dishes on my Instagram page.

Reconnect with someone. Call an old friend or family member for support or to simply get a good laugh! 

Why would I need a genetic test?

Why would I need a genetic test?

Why would I need a genetic test?

Genetic testing has been around since the 1950s but only in the area of chromosome counting to detect genetic disorders at birth. Since then it has expanded throughout the years to newborn screening, diagnostic testing, carrier testing, preimplantation genetic disorders, prenatal diagnosis,
predictive and presymptomatic testing, pharmacogenomics, nutrigenomics.

Nutrigenomic testing is the science of studying the relationship between the humane genome, nutrition, and health and will be discussed further in this article. This area of genetic testing is still relatively new but it lays the foundation of truly personalised nutrition.

Who will benefit from Nutrigenomic testing?

Any individual wanting treatment, lifestyle, and disease prevention tailored appropriately for their unique needs will benefit. Nutrigenomics can give you insight into how best to manage your weight with interventions unique to you that impact metabolism, absorption, and storage of fats and carbohydrates.

It can also give you insight into the potential risk of lifestyle disease and how to best prevent them from happening, enhance your performance in sport and take care of your health in a way that is personalised and precise. A few areas that these tests look at including Cardiovascular health, Glucose and insulin balance, Risk for blood clotting, Bone, collagen and joint health, brain health, Sex hormone balance and Detoxification, inflammation, and oxidative stress to name a few.

My husband’s genetic report

I’m going you use my husband’s report as an example to share how this has been of benefit for him and why I love to use these tests in my practice.

*Important to note that the type of genes tested are what we call low penetrance genes which means that is not indefinite that you will develop a certain disease no matter any changes that you make but that you can prevent these lifestyle diseases through changing your habits.

We found that he has a risk for Cardiovascular disease and cognitive decline as well as insufficiencies in how he is able to detoxify. His highest priority is inflammation and oxidative stress, we also found out that he is caffeine sensitive but he already knew this from personal experience.

Now that we know this information what do we do about it… For him, the risk of cognitive decline is very scary but we are putting a few interventions in place to help prevent this from happening, for example, assessing his sugar intake, focus on eating lots of plants and all the colors of the rainbow from fruit and vegetables and most importantly work on his inflammation which your brain does not like to have to hang around… We have introduced specific supplements to his routine such as omega 3, Vitamin D, and Phosphatidylcholine as well as regular exercise… Your brain loves to exercise.

We have recently adopted a plant-based way of eating and he has found a lot of improvement with regards to his inflammation in eating this way. It is definitely a mind shift as we are Afrikaans and grew up eating lots of meat and braai meat every weekend with family and friends.

We have to support his liver by reducing alcohol and caffeine intake and giving his liver the right nutrients to function appropriately like your cruciferous vegetables and again lots of color in his diet from plants. There are specific nutrients that will be of great benefit to him like sulforaphane which is the active ingredient in broccoli.

The information in these tests is not supposed to scare you but empower you to make specific diet and lifestyle changes that are personalised to you to help prevent and better manage your health.

“Genetic testing doesn’t tell you how you are going to die, it tells you how you are going to live and that’s a very important step for all of us in gaining back control of our health.” Jeffrey Bland, Ph.D., FACN

mental health awareness

How to maintain a healthy mind.

In these unprecedented times, improving and maintaining your mental health should be a priority. As Lockdown progresses, you may start to develop negative thinking patterns as you find yourself becoming more and more tired and frustrated. These negative thinking patterns tend to cause conditions like anxiety and depression to worsen, which means that recognising and preventing negative thoughts is critical to sustaining a healthy mind.

There are a few strategies you can implement to identify your triggers and help you train your brain to maintain positivity. 

Are you having negative thoughts?

Identifying negative thoughts can be tricky – but realising that specific thoughts are harmful or unhealthy is the first step to changing them. Thoughts that consistently lower your self-esteem or cause you to doubt your worth aren’t healthy – especially if you find your mind replaying them several times a day, creating a pattern of negative thinking. 

Here are some patterns you should look out for:

  • Personalisation: Believing that you are the cause of adverse situations. 
  • Magnification: Exaggerating situations in your mind until they seem helpless.
  • Overgeneralisation: Designating the feelings of previous negative experiences to all similar experiences.
  • Emotional Reasoning: Making decisions and assumptions based on your feelings at the moment, rather than the facts.
  • Black-and-White Thinking: Your thinking jumps from one extreme to the next, with no middle ground.

How to stay positive:

Retraining your mind to avoid these negative thought traps isn’t too difficult, as long as you are consistent in your training. Try to implement one of the following strategies every day, and document your positive and negative thoughts to see how you’re improving.

Personal Mantras:

Repeating affirmation statements helps to steer your mind away from negative thoughts. Your mantra could be a phrase that motivates and encourages you and repeating it consistently when you’re experiencing negative thoughts will help you feel better. It especially helps if you believe what you’re saying.

Happy Scrapbook:

Keeping a scrapbook of all of the positive thoughts, happy memories, and overall positive aspects of your life can become a great mood booster in times of stress and anxiety. Bring it out when you’re feeling down, and it’ll help break you out of a negative thinking pattern. 

Kindness:

A recent study concluded that performing acts of kindness improves your overall mood and mental state. It also improves your self-esteem and makes you feel more valuable. Contributing to positive change in your community will help you create a positive difference in your mind.

Redesign!

Colours, textures and the ambience of spaces all affect your mental state. If you’re in an area that’s dark and gloomy, you’ll find yourself drifting to that mind space more frequently. Add a little bit of colour to your environment, move some furniture and find ornamental items to inspire you.

Create a Routine:

Structuring your days to include self-care activities and positive changes will help to keep you on track. Find a way to add time for things you’ve always wanted to do – like learning a new language or taking up a new hobby. The internet has millions of online classes and guides to help you learn.

Check-in with yourself

Monitoring and revising is key to the success of any ongoing project, so creating a system to be able to check-in with yourself is vital to developing a long-term change in your mental wellbeing. 

Journaling is a powerful method of keeping track of your mental wellbeing.

Start by making a note of any negative thoughts you have and jotting down the causes, effects and strategies you implemented to stop them. As you progress, you’ll start identifying patterns in your thinking, and you’ll be able to act proactively to stop negative thoughts. 

You’ll be able to avoid triggers more effectively and understand which situations could affect your mental wellbeing. 

Food for Thought

I recently wrote a piece for Trove Wellness on the topic of eating to support and enhance your mental health:

“Many foods can increase our mental health and should be strategically included in our diets to assist with alertness, memory and mood. This is especially critical now because of the fear and anxiety which is induced by the lockdown. Prioritize your mental health and mind, we are shaped by our thoughts and the happiness of your life depends on the quality of your thoughts.”

To read my full article and see which foods I recommend, click this link

Get Started!

Negative thoughts happen to everyone. It’s an unfortunate part of life. 

When your negative thoughts start impacting your perception of yourself and the world around you, they create unnecessary stress and anxiety. When your negative thoughts are consistent and unyielding, they could cause you to become exhausted, depressed, unmotivated, frustrated and angry. 

Replacing negative thought patterns with positive ones seems easy enough, but you do need to be consistent. Try implementing some of these strategies into your daily routine to help counteract the cycle and maintain a positive, healthy mindset.