10 Ways To Be Proactive and Have a Healthier 4th of July
By Joy Stephenson-Laws, J.D., Founder
It is officially summer, and 4th of July is all about barbeques, parties, trips to the beach and vacations. I love this time of year, but it’s not always conducive to a healthy way of living whether it’s what we are putting on our plate or to what extent we are protecting our skin (the body’s largest organ). And if you are a party animal, say no more. The good news is that there are simple steps we can take to be proactive and have a healthy but still fun 4th of July holiday and summer. Remember, “detox to retox” is no way to treat your beautiful mind and body. And as always, prevention is better than cure.
1. Get moving.
Sometimes warmer weather makes us feel like slowing down, but staying active is critical to our overall health and wellness. A sedentary lifestyle increases the risk of multiple health problems. Get your workout done in the morning (before all of the festivities begin). You will feel even more excited to hang out with friends and family. The good news is that even just 15 minutes can make a difference. Do things you enjoy, whether it is walking or yoga, and try to involve all of the people in your household to make it a group effort and routine.
2. Watch the booze.
I’m not a fan of drinking alcohol, but the foundation to most 4th of July celebrations is often a festive adult beverage in addition to plenty of beer on hand. Sangrias, spiked punches and margaritas are about to be flowing! These drinks can be heavy on the sugar and sodium. Furthermore, alcohol is very dehydrating. It depletes the body of essential vitamins and minerals, can impede muscle growth, increases the risk of accidents and wreaks havoc on the body (including skin) and immune system if you regularly imbibe. To give you a bit more perspective, the American Cancer Society recently updated their guidelines in cancer prevention, stating that they recommend drinking less alcohol or even avoiding it. To get an idea regarding how much is too much, check out this pH Labs blog. If you regularly experience hangovers, drink every day or feel like it is challenging to go for a few days without a drink, then I highly suggest reevaluating your relationship with alcohol. If you do drink responsibly, just make sure to drink plenty of water and never drink on an empty stomach.
3. Wear sunscreen and protective clothing.
Do you know that skin cancer is the most common kind of cancer in the United States? The American Academy of Dermatology Association (AAD) reports that almost 20 Americans die from melanoma every day. In 2022, estimates are that 7,650 deaths will be due to melanoma - 5,080 men and 2,570 women. Having darker skin does not automatically protect you from the sun. In fact, AAD also reports that skin cancer in people with darker skin is often diagnosed in later stages when it is harder to treat. Wear your sunscreen and protective clothing such as sunglasses, wide brimmed hats and light fabric, long-sleeved shirts. I’m loving that rash guards and swim shirts are now popular. Look for ones with ultraviolet protection factor (UPF).
4. Be proactive about preventing and treating tick bites.
It’s also officially tick season. Sometimes, lyme disease and tick-borne illnesses go undiagnosed until the afflicted becomes very ill. Read here to learn how you can be proactive and why you may need a PCR test to properly diagnose tick-borne illness.
5. Limit processed foods.
Processed foods such as chips, sweets and white bread add zero nutritional value to our diet. In addition to this, they promote inflammation and disease, increase the risk of obesity and other metabolic disorders and may even leave us feeling depressed. I suggest treating yourself in moderation to the junk foods you love (avoid mindless snacking just because that bowl of potato chips is sitting there). Fill up on nutrient-dense foods such as fresh fruit and vegetables. Summer time produce is the best!
6. Eat watermelon.
Watermelon makes an appearance at most 4th of July celebrations, and this is a good thing! This delicious fruit is hydrating and packs some potent nutrients. Check out how you can make watermelon rind pickles.
As fun as 4th of July can be, it can also be overwhelming and stressful. Hosting a party or traveling is a lot of work and something a lot of us may have gotten used to NOT doing during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic. Stress can lead to stress eating, a lack of sleep and heavy alcohol consumption. Taking just a few minutes to calm your mind and meditate can be a great tool for stress management. Try a meditative walk in nature. This kills two birds with one stone! “Psychologists have found that mindfulness meditation changes our brain and biology in positive ways, improving mental and physical health,” reports the American Psychological Association.
8. Get good quality sleep.
In a society that rewards hard work and achieving your career goals, sleep is sometimes looked at as a waste of time or something that should be done in moderation. Quite frankly, this mentality is so off and detrimental to health and wellbeing. Getting sufficient and quality sleep is actually critical to performing in all facets of life and protecting the immune system.
9. Be proactive about cross contamination and foodborne illness in the kitchen.
Check out this pH Labs blog to see exactly how you can be proactive. As always, good handwashing goes a long way. I know this can be difficult, but try to avoid communal chip bowls and other dishes where people may serve with their hands. You can also make sure everything you serve as serving tongs.
10. Try to avoid charred meats.
This can be tricky, but it is possible. “Cooking meat at high temperatures produces cancer-causing chemicals called heterocyclic amines (HCAs), particularly if it produces char marks,” explains one doctor, referenced in this Cedars Sinai report. Check out the report to see what you can do to limit or avoid charred meats.
So there you have it! These 10 steps are the ones I personally think you should incorporate in your daily life, but sometimes we need a reminder during the holidays. Happy 4th of July!
Enjoy your healthy life!
The pH professional health care team includes recognized experts from a variety of health care and related disciplines, including physicians, attorneys, nutritionists, nurses, and certified fitness instructors. This team also includes the members of the pH Medical Advisory Board, which constantly monitors all pH programs, products, and services. To learn more about the pH Medical Advisory Board, click here.