We all know that summer can be fun-filled and hot, and as with any season, it takes awareness and actions to maintain balance. Here are some ideas for Staying Healthy in Summer.

1. Stay cool and hydrated. Drink water, at least two to four cups (16–32 ounces) upon rising, and similar amounts if you are going out for activities and exercise. Carry water with you in a glass jar or a hard plastic container (more stable polycarbonate rather than polyethylene that leaches plastic into the water). You may also use a traveling water filter. Check your local water stores or www.realgoods.com. Most people need two to three quarts of liquid per day, and more in hot weather or with sweating and exercise. Review Chapter 1 of Staying Healthy with Nutrition for further information on water.

2. While enjoying the sun and outdoors, protect yourself from overexposure to sunlight by wearing a hat and using natural sunscreens without excessive chemicals. Carry Aloe vera gel for overexposure and have an aloe plant growing in your home for any kind of burn. The cooling and healing gel inside the leaves will soothe any sunburn. It works great.

3. Keep up or begin an exercise program. Aerobic activity is important for keeping the heart strong and healthy. If you only work out in a health club, take some time to do outdoor refreshing activities like hiking, biking, swimming, or tennis. Reconnecting with these activities will help keep your body and mind aligned.

4. Enjoy Nature’s bounty, such as the many fresh seasonal fruits and vegetables at their organic best. Consuming foods that are cooling and light—fresh fruits, vegetable juices, raw vital salads, and lots of water—will nourish your body for summertime activities. Include some protein with one or two meals. There are a number of light, nourishing proteins that don’t require cooking. Most of these complement fruits and vegetables nicely—nuts, seeds, sprouted beans, soy products, yogurt, kefir, and cottage cheese. Fish and poultry can also be eaten.

5. Take some special summer time activities with your family, kids, and friends who share the enjoyment of outdoors. Plan a fun trip if you’re able and motivated for a day or longer—hiking in the wild, camping, playing at the river, or a few days resting at the ocean or a local lake. Water is a great balancer during the hotter months. Rekindling your Earth connection has benefits that last beyond this season, continuing to enrich the whole of your life.

6. Relax and breathe. You’ve been working hard. This is the season to slow the pace a bit and absorb the light that stimulates your hormonal message center. Leave your cell phone at home or take a week off from TV. In many European countries, most of the population has a month off during the summer. Plan your breaks and fun trips now for the next couple months.

7. Sun teas are wonderful. Use flowers and leaves (or tea bags) in a clear half- or one-gallon glass jar filled with spring water. Hibiscus or red clover flowers, peppermint, chamomile, or lemon grass are all good choices, or use your local herbs and flowers that you learn are safe, flavorful, and even medicinal. Leave in the sun for two hours or up to a whole day. Moon teas can also be made to enhance your lunar, dreamy side by letting your herbs steep in the cooling, mystical moonlight. Add a little orange or lemon peel, or a sprig of rosemary and a few jasmine flowers.

8. Nutritional supplements can support you with a greater amount of physical energy, enhancing your summer activities. The B-complex vitamins are calming to the nervous system and helpful for cellular energy production, while vitamin C and the other antioxidants protect your body from stress, chemical pollutants, and the biochemical by-products of exercise. Helpful summer herbs are Siberian ginseng as an energy tonic and stress protector; dong quai is a tonic for women; hawthorn berry is good for the heart; and licorice root will help energy balance and digestion.

9. Use the summer months to deepen the spiritual awakening begun in the spring, or start now. Begin by checking your local bookstore or the web for ideas that interest you. Plan a vacation that incorporates these new interests and provides you time to read, relax, contemplate, and breathe. This may be a health or meditation retreat.

10. Above all, give yourself the time to truly experience Nature. This can happen, even in a city park, if you relax and let in your surroundings. When traveling, take activities for the family and your first aid kit for bites, bee stings, and injuries. Check for ticks after your hikes. Watch for overexposure, take time in the shade, and drink your water. Enjoy this time of the year.

Elson M. Haas, MD

Elson M. Haas, MD is a medical practitioner with nearly 40 years experience in patient care, always with in an interest in natural medicine. For the past 30 years, he has been instrumental in the development and practice of Integrated Medicine at the Preventive Medical Center of Marin (PMCM), which he founded in 1984 and where he is the Medical Director. Dr Haas has been perfecting a model of healthcare that integrates sophisticated Western diagnostics and Family Medicine with time-honored natural therapies from around the world.

This educating, writing doctor is also the author of many books including Staying Healthy with Nutrition: The Complete Guide to Diet and Nutritional Medicine, 21st Century Edition, The NEW Detox Diet: The Complete Guide for Lifelong Vitality with Recipes, Menus, & Detox Plans and more. Visit his website for more information on his work, books and to sign up for his newsletter.