Written by Tara Knight
Southsea comes alive in the summer, and this year my son Alfie and I are embracing the sea, strolling down to the beach at low tide to swim in the water. I am finding myself nostalgic for my childhood where our summer routine involved trips to The Akram store to stock up on food for lunch; then a walk via the Rose Gardens to settle on the beach for the afternoon. Days filled with happy memories where the sun always seemed to shine.
Is it a sense of nostalgia which makes summer a happy time for so many of us, or is it the sunshine itself? Sun is essential for our vitamin D levels, as it is synthesized in response to UVB radiation. Often referred to as the sunshine vitamin, D is essential for building strong bones and teeth, helps facilitate normal immune system functions, and also offers improved resistance against certain diseases. Serotonin production, which is associated with mood, can be affected by exposure to daylight, and higher levels during the longer summer days may contribute to more positive moods and a calm yet focused mental outlook. Sound like a familiar summer feeling?
Although the sun has its benefits, we do need to take care. An adequate level of vitamin D can be produced by being in the sun for half an hour; wearing SPF is obvious advice but in addition to the skin risks, excessive sun exposure creates free radical damage which contributes towards ageing.
A balanced summer diet with colourful fruits and vegetables combined with outdoor living and adequate hydration can keep you healthy and help protect you from the inside out. Vitamin A is essential for healthy hair, skin, nails and eye health; whereas Vitamin E is an anti-inflammatory and antioxidant which helps protect against disease and promotes, natural, slow ageing. Vitamins A, D and E are all fat soluble so they rely on dietary fats (such as omega 3s) to be stored and utilized within the body. Good food sources include cold water fish such as salmon, walnuts, hemp seeds, flax seeds and leafy green vegetables.
Vitamin C is also a potent antioxidant and can be found in fresh fruits, especially citrus, strawberries and blackcurrants. Carrots, summer squash and tomatoes all contain carotenoids – a type of phytonutrient which gives vegetables their vibrant red, orange and yellow hues. Carotenoids are also the dominant pigment in autumn leaf colouration, but lets not look too far ahead, I’m just trying to make the most of everything the summer has to offer.