Summer is here, and you know what that means: lots of heat and lots of sun! With high temperatures and more sun exposure, your body has to work extra hard to regulate its own functioning. That said, there are two big things you can (and should) do to help with that process: hydrate and replenish your body’s nutrients.
You know all about staying hydrated by drinking your water. But have you ever heard the term “eating your water?” In the summer, it’s important to eat foods that contain a high amount of water in addition to drinking it. Luckily, there’s an easy way to do this: eating your fruits and veggies. The best part is, fruits and vegetables serve the dual purpose of keeping you hydrated and replenishing your body’s nutrients.
Summer fruits and vegetables are rich with not only water, but also essential vitamins and minerals. In order to know what to choose and how to make the most of your summer produce, it’s helpful to understand what vitamins your body needs and where to find them.
Vitamin C is an antioxidant, which is a substance that can prevent and slow damage to your cells caused by free radicals — molecules in the environment that produce a reaction in your body. It also plays a significant role in collagen production for healthy joints and skin, neurotransmitter function, and immunity. You can find abundant vitamin C in citrus fruits like oranges and in many leafy greens.
Also an antioxidant, vitamin E is particularly helpful to your liver because it aids in the detoxification process. Additionally, vitamin E is essential for your skin because of its ability to protect you from sun damage and help you recover faster when you do get a sunburn. Vitamin E is found in veggies like beet greens, collard greens, spinach, and red bell pepper.
Also known as a retinol, vitamin A is a fat-soluble compound that is particularly important for your vision and eye health. Eating a diet rich in vitamin A can help sharpen your vision, especially in dim light. It also acts as a line of defense in your immune system. Carrots, sweet potatoes, and green leafy veggies are all great sources of this nutrient.
Though your body can produce vitamin D on its own, it needs direct sunlight to do so. If you try to stay out of the sun during the hotter summer months, it’s important to give your body some extra help with vitamin D production. It strengthens your bones, boosts immunity, and increases your ability to absorb phosphorus and calcium, which are also beneficial for your bones and teeth. Get your vitamin D from spinach and other greens, orange juice, and mushrooms, and add some zucchini in there for extra phosphorus.
B vitamins have a direct effect on your brain function and energy levels. This nutrient is beneficial for your general well-being. In the summertime, it can be draining to spend time outside in the oppressive heat and sun that lower your energy levels and focus, so it’s important to stay boosted with extra B vitamins from your food. You can find them in citrus fruits such as oranges, clementines, and lemons, as well as in avocados and legumes.
Vitamin K is vital for your blood’s ability to clot properly, preventing you from bleeding too much when you get a cut or scrape. It also helps your body with the absorption of vitamin B. The best produce sources of vitamin K are kale, asparagus, broccoli, and legumes such as soybeans.
With a general decrease in energy, hydration, and bodily function in the summertime, it’s as good a time as any to pack your diet full of fruits and veggies for better hydration and more essential nutrients. Looking for some inspiration? Check out these recipes from our functional medicine nurse practitioners at PALM Health for some tasty, creative ways to make the most of your summer produce.
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