The Biggest Health Mistakes You're Making This Summer

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In the midst of summer vacations abroad or outdoor concerts at home, your health might not be the first thing on your mind. The foods being offered to you this time of year are seriously tempting (ice cream, anyone?) and staying out late and spending lots of time outside are par for the course.

But if you don't take at least some basic measures to protect yourself against the hazards of summer, serious consequences may ensue. You don't want to be holed up all winter in a ball of regret for your summer mistakes.

There are some mistakes that health experts and medical professionals see people making year after year. Sometimes these mistakes can cause immediate injuries or even cause long-term effects on a person's health.

Whether you're planning on spending all day in the sun or going on an ambitious hike through the woods, there are ways to prevent these consequences from happening to you.

Not Wearing Sunscreen

Sunburns are a huge problem, especially for kids when they go to camp and don't reapply after swimming, Dyan Hes, MD, Medical Director of Gramercy Pediatrics and Obesity Expert, says. Applying sunscreen can be tedious, but it's well worth your time to lotion up. Dr. Hes also recommends sun protective clothing because at least the shoulders and chest are always covered and you don't have worry about them. Forgetting to wear sunscreen can result in skin damage over time, along with a greater risk of skin cancer. You're also more likely to wrinkle the more damage you allow to your skin. Lotions are better than sprays, Dr. Hes adds, because they provide better coverage. If you do have a sunburn, make sure you don't make these painful mistakes.

Drinking Too Much

This might come as a surprise, but drinking alcohol is not good for you. In the summer, you're more likely to drink more often and overdo it. Summery drinks such as frosé (or, even more trendy, frosecco) can be loaded with added sugar - not to mention how dehydrating drinking alcohol can be. The health consequences don't end there. According to some studies, every extra drink you consume past the five-per-week recommended limit could take minutes off your life.


Ear Infection

This happens when the ear canal has not cmpletely dried, Dr. Hes says. It can get very painful. The infection is treated with antibiotic drops. "It's important to make sure the ear is dry after swimming, she adds. Especially if it's very humid outside.


Exposing Yourself to Foodborne Bacteria

Food poisoning incidents ramp up over the summer, according to the Food Safety and Inspection Service. Bacteria thrive in warmer weather and many people make food preparation mistakes while cooking and eating outdoors. Don't keep food out, especially milk, meat and fish, Dr. Hes says. Mayonnaise is a big source of food poisoning in the summer if left outside in the warm weather for long, she adds. "Refrigirate or throw out."

Snacking too much

Summer definitely puts people in the mood to have snacks - BBQs, ice cream trucks, beach boardwalks, county fairs are all summertime favorites that can lead to extra snacking and eating foods that are highly acidic and inflammatory, Dr. Daryl Gioffre, author of GET OFF YOUR ACID, says. "Not only can the foods associated with these activities lead to weight gain, they can suck energy and cause acid reflux." The goal should be to have an 80/20 split when indulging, where 80% of the food you eat is alkaline-forming, and no more than 20% acid-forming, he adds. "Moderation, not depravation is key."


Not Being Careful of Ticks

Bugs and pests of all kinds are upsetting, but you should be especially wary of ticks. These creepy crawlies carry Lyme disease, which can put your life at risk if you don't catch it early. Most cases of Lyme disease can be treated successfully with a few weeks of antibiotics. But you should still take the necessary precautions to protect yourself from risk. Avoid areas of tall grass and check your clothes and skin for ticks once you are back indoors.


Severe Dehydration

Most people wait until they are thirsty to drink, and by that time, they are already dehydrated, Dr. Gioffre says. "The average person loses 2.5 liters of water per day, and that is just by every day life. If you are working out, or in the sun, you can add another liter to that number." When drinking, aim for 3-4 liters/day, and your water should be filtered with an ideal pH of 8-9.5, and alkalize it with a lemon slice, or a scoop of dehydrated greens or minerals to replenish your electrolytes, he adds.


Not Wearing Bug Spray

Mosquitos and other bugs can spread all kinds of disease, such as West Nile virus and Zika. Insect repellents are very important, Dr. Hes says. "And they don't get put on so frequently - just twice a day." If you don't like using bug spray, there are other ways to repel insects. Certain foods can keep them away, as can candles and other repellants. 


Charring Food on the Grill

Vegetables do taste great when they get a little crispy on the edges. But you might want to refrain from charring your vegetables and meat if you're concerned about carcinogens. The char from grill flame can introduce chemicals to your food, which can later interact with DNA and cause tumors.


Assuming More Sweat Means a Better Workout

Just because the temperature is high doesn't mean you are burning more calories. "It may feel that way because your body is sweating in a response to keeping you cool," Dr. Gioffre says. Often, people mistake this for a sign that their workout is either more intense or more effective. But that's an exercise myth. The amount that you sweat has a lot less to do with your physical accomplishment and more to do with the temperature of the air outside.


Thinking All Drinks Are Hydrating

While a sports drink or some fruit juice might taste good, nothing is as good for you as a tall glass of water, Dr. Hes says. "Only if you're really low on sugar, it's OK to have orange juice, for example. This applies to diabetics and others with a medical condition, she adds. Some drinks, such as coffee or soda, can actually dehydrate you.

Not Drinking Enough Water

You're sweting a lot more and you need to replace all fluid and electrolytes lost. The answer is always water, Dr. Hes says. Sports drinks have too much sugar, so avoid them. Make sure to drink more glasses than you need normally, since the increased heat and sweat requires extra hydration. Water is the best way to replenish your stores - but some foods and other particularly hydrating beverages can help.


Thinking Hot Weather Speeds Up Metabolism

There is some evidence that shows weather impacts metabolism, both cold and hot temperatures, but only for very short periods of time to regulate the body, Dr. Gioffre says. "Hot weather alone isn't going to speed up a person's metabolism to the point where they would lose significant amounts of weight." Even if a person was to move to a hot climate permanently they wouldn't see a dramatic increase in their metabolism when it comes to weight loss, he adds. Eventually the body would regulate itself and become accustom to the higher temperature.


Cleansing or Detoxing

A juice cleanse or a detox might sound like an appealing way to get your health back on track, but doing one of these fad diets could end up doing more harm than good. Your body doesn't actually need you to "cleanse" it of toxins - it does that all on its own. That's what your kidneys are for! And a diet where you eat very few calories or rely on fluids to subsist can put your body into a state of panic and mess with your hunger cues. Skip the detox and fill your diet with nourishing foods instead.

Head Injuries

"You will be shocked how many people - adults as well as children - don't wear helmets, Dr. Hes says. But if you fall off, and this is very common regardless how experiences you are, you risk serious head injuries. 



In pursuit of a summer body, you might be tempted to try a diet or two. But dieting for weight loss can actually end up messing with your health in a number of ways (depending on the diet you try) and have the opposite effect of what you wanted. According to some studies, 97 percent of all diets don't result in long-term weight loss - and a majority of diets actually can result in weight gain. Instead of trying this or that diet, try improving your health with food by eating what your body craves and ensuring you fill your day with a variety of nutrients.

Exercising Too Much

People tend to use the summertime to try to get fit. The weather allows for fun workouts outdoors and switching up your routine. However, many people who are just starting out with getting regular exercise will overdo it. More exercise isn't always better! Take it slow and ease into higher-intensity workouts at your own pace.

Not Taking a Vacation

Especially if you're a workaholic, it can take effort to force yourself to take a break. But your vacation days are there for a reason. Taking time to rest is really important, and can actually make you more productive in the long run. Letting yourself become overworked and worn out can cause stress, which in turn affects your physical health in some very real ways. You don't have to book a Caribbean vacation to keep your stress levels from going haywire. Even if you use the days to laze on the couch at home, it'll make a huge difference.

Tanning Too Much

A tan might make you feel more confident in a bikini, but it's really not worth the risk to your health. You could end up with skin damage from the sun's UV rays and increase your risk of cancer. Using a tanning bed or other synthetic form of tanning is also a really bad idea. According to the Skin Cancer Foundation, those who use a tanning bed before age 35 increase their risk of melanoma by 75 percent.


Wearing Flip-Flops Every Day

They're cute, but at what cost? Flip-flops are flimsy, leaving your feet with zero support or cushioning. They're bad for your heels, your toes, and even your posture. Wearing them every day could lead to pinched nerves, heel damage, tendonitis, or a hammertoe. Not cute.

Feeling Guilty After Eating

You might think that scolding yourself after choosing a burger over the salad or treating yourself to a cupcake is motivating and healthy - but it's really not. Compensating for food with guilt or trying to "make up for it" later can generate a vicious cycle of overeating followed by self-punishment. Instead, allow all foods in your diet without any emotional rebound. You might find that you overdo it less often and feel much healthier in the process! If you're looking to improve your health without going full speed ahead on the dieting crazy train, try a few of these small diet changes that make a big difference.
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