Tips for Staying Healthy This Summer

Follow these easy tips to take care of your body and enjoy a healthy, fun and safe summer.

It’s easy to become dehydrated quickly in the hot sun. What are some tips to stay hydrated and what are some signs that you are becoming dehydrated?

Dr. Gregg Rubinstein: Well, that’s a fair question. Dehydration basically occurs in the body when the amount of water leaving the body is greater than what is being taken in. The body is very dynamic and it’s always changing, and it’s needs for water will be changing depending on the seasons, where we are, and different types of situations. But we’re going to lose water routinely when we’re just breathing because the humidified air is leaving our body, when we sweat to cool the body, or we urinate or have bowel movements to get rid of waste products. Generally, dehydration is happening when we are expelling or getting rid of more water than we are taking in.

In a normal day, a person has to drink a significant amount of water to replace this routine loss. Now, in the summer it tends to be hotter and we’re more active, and the hotter it gets and the more active we are, the more we’re going to sweat, so we’re going to start to deplete water. We will start to see dehydration happen. Similar things can happen up in altitude as well. When you’re up at a high altitude, because the air is colder and dryer, it’s actually going to take more of the moisture out of your body.

Then, if you’re exercising in altitude, like skiing or hiking up in altitude, when you’re out there it can really have a much more profound effect. It is very important to plan ahead, to take extra water with you when you’re doing all your outdoor events, especially when you know you’re going to be sweating and it’s going to be hot. And stress will also affect your fluid management. We encourage athletes and people who work outside to replace fluids at a rate that equals the loss, and most importantly, replacing things with clear liquids and things that replace electrolytes, not having soda or those other types of things.

From jumping off diving boards to playing beach volleyball, it’s easy to get hurt while enjoying summer activities. What are some basic tips for people to follow if they suffer an injury?

Dr. Gregg Rubinstein: Well, you know, the basic thing after any injury is to get checked out and make sure it’s not something serious. There’s an acronym for any type of sports injury called RICE. You might have heard of it. It stands for rest, ice, compression, and elevation, which is the basic first aid. You want to make sure that there’s nothing serious going on. Then, that’s basically what you’re going to be doing.

Once you get injured, depending on what the injury is, you would need to seek medical attention. Obviously, if there’s a broken bone you don’t want to be going to a chiropractor’s office, you want to go to a medical doctor or an orthopedist. But for sprains and strains, injuries to the spine, back aches, neck aches, those type of things, or just improving all of the general health and resiliency of your spine to prevent injury, it’s great to see a chiropractor. So, you should be getting checked before and after any type of intense activity.

Joe Montana, a very famous football player for the 49ers, used to get his spine checked before every game to make sure that his spine was in good shape and resilient so he didn’t get injured. But, obviously, if you get injured or you take hits during a football game, getting checked after would be a great idea.

It doesn’t really matter what you’re doing or what time of season it is, you should always be getting your spine checked periodically, just like you get your teeth checked periodically to make sure there aren’t any problems and that things don’t get progressive in nature. We’re always looking to make sure that our spine and our nervous system are healthy, because the healthier our spine and nervous system are, the healthier we are, and bodies that are strong and more resilient are less likely to get injured in the first place. But should you get injured, check with your chiropractor. If your chiropractor thinks that it is an injury for the orthopedist, they’ll make sure to make the appropriate referral.

People often wonder why they get sick in the summer. What are some common summer colds or infections? And is there anything we can do to prevent getting them?

Dr. Gregg Rubinstein: Absolutely. Well, the first thing is, it’s kind of interesting when they talk about summer colds and things like that. People really think it’s so odd. But the truth is that colds are caused by viruses, not by the weather. They can occur any time of year, right? They’re more common during the colder months because the virus is able to spread more easily in cold, dry air. But they’re around. The bugs that make us sick, they’re around all the time. They’re ever present. And people tend to be more active and a little bit healthier in the summer, plus they’re not as stressed as in the winter. In the winter you’re not getting as much vitamin D, so people tend to have more trouble there because they’re not getting the sun to activate their vitamin D and things of that nature.

But the things that I tell people is to just get adjusted, get your spine checked, eat well, rest, get plenty of fluids, exercise, and you really want to think about how your immune system works; remembering that your immune system is 100% controlled by your nervous system. Your immune system will not work if your nervous system can’t tell it what to do. Typically, what chiropractors see are people with subluxations or misalignments in their spine that are irritating their nervous system. And if your nervous system is irritated, it’s not going to do as good a job as a clear nervous system. So someone who has irritation in the nervous system, it might slow down the immune response and they might be more apt to get sick. But typically, the main reason is because, again, colds are caused by viruses, not the weather, and they’re just easier to transfer in the cold, dryer air than it is in the summertime.

For those traveling long distances this summer, what are some good tips to follow to feel as comfortable as possible and stay healthy during the trip?

Dr. Gregg Rubinstein: Well, that’s a good question. And, you know, sitting, traveling for long distances is kind of the same rules for sitting at your desk. And we might have had a conversation about that in the past. But sitting for long periods of time has been shown to carry significant health risks. I actually read a study somewhere where they said sitting is the new smoking. So if you spend a lot of your workday in a car or a truck, you face the risks of both musculoskeletal issues and spinal issues. You might not be able to change your driving time, but with a few changes and some planning, you could really improve your health in spite of how much driving.

One of the things is planning your trip properly. If you know you have an eight-hour drive, you might want to plan two stops and get out and walk. So maybe planning a stop at a museum that might be along the way, get out of your car for an hour, or walk around and break up the trip; might be a really great way to take care of that. So, you know, you get out, you walk about or bring a picnic lunch and stop at a nice roadside spot, plan your trip, maybe throw a Frisbee after you get out of the car and move around. It’ll stop the blood from pooling in your legs and relieve pressure in your lower back. Planning a stop for a picnic, or any type of break, or a museum is a really great idea.

There are a lot of prevention things. People who drive a lot have a high risk for back pain, likely related to sitting with inadequate lumbar support. Doing exercise, making sure your spine is strong, using back supports in the car, changing your position, being able to switch drivers. But routine lower back muscular stretching and strengthening along with abdominal and core strengthening can improve the strength and help the spine withstand the stress on the lumbar spine that might be put on by long trips or driving. But exercise is important.

Avoid fast food when you’re out there. You don’t want to just go grab something and then eat it in your car. Take some time. Sit in a picnic area at a roadside stop and just stand up and walk. Those are the things that are important. Spend the time. That’s really what’s going to get you where you need to be.

A lot of people who drive for a living, truckers and others are smokers, and that applies to everyone, not just drivers. You know, cutting back on cigarettes or giving them up altogether is going to improve your overall health and lower the risk of any chronic medical conditions like high blood pressure and heart disease.

Is there such a thing as too many hot dogs and ice cream cones for one summer? And do you have any tips on making healthy choices while on the go or at another barbecue?

Dr. Gregg Rubinstein: That’s a pretty funny question to ask. Too many hotdogs or ice cream? Well, I guess if they’re a high-grade organic ice cream, and the high-grade organic hotdogs that are grass-fed beef, I don’t know. But we all know that everything in moderation is important. You can’t just live on a diet of hotdogs and ice cream, because that wouldn’t be good for anyone. But, you know, summer is here. And with it does come that prime barbecue season. And barbecue shindigs mean good company, good vibes, good food, and good friends. But if you’re really trying to be eating healthy at summer cookouts, it does seem like a challenge, so it is a good question. That’s because usually the barbecue mainstays tend to be loaded with salt, and fat, sugar, and calories. However, there are plenty of different options that you can enjoy if you’re trying to watch your sugar intake, want to lose weight, or eat healthier. And the best part about it is you have control over that. Because if you invited me to your barbecue, I’m going to be, “What can I bring?” And then I might bring some healthy choices. You know?

And another thing that’s important is people deprive themselves of the foods that they really love when they’re trying to lose weight and be healthy. You can still eat some of those foods that are fatty and high in calories. You just need to learn how to moderate them. So, you know, enjoy a serving of your favorite dish, but focus on sticking with portion control, and try and just pick one of your favorites, not having each one at every cookout. Save the rest for the next cookout. Choose a lean protein. You can try and fill your plate first, like half of it, with raw vegetables and fresh fruit so you can’t overload your plate. And the fresh fruit and the vegetables will fill you up. Beans, corn, going bun-free, making kabobs with lots of vegetables and just a little bit of protein on there, or a little bit of meat, or a little bit of chicken will be better. Making sides, like, if you made coleslaw, using a vinegar-based slaw instead of using mayo. There are just millions of different health choices that we can make.

But bring your own food. Bring a couple of items and do the best that you can. Look, summer is for enjoying, and everyone falls off their diet or does different things. As long as you eat healthfully five or six days a week, going off the tracks one day a week shouldn’t really put a big wrench in your gears. With some planning, preparation, and just using your thinking cap, you can make some better choices and really avoid all of the excess food and excess calories that summer brings.

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