As the seasons change once again, so too do our eating habits, our lifestyle preferences and what types of foods become readily available.
The heat of the summer sun, coupled with more time outdoors means that hydration needs to take centre stage. Our bodies sweat more as a mechanism to keep our body temperature regulated, and the UV light from the sun can dry and damage our skin cells.
With Christmas and New Year festivities in full swing, it’s common for us to consume more alcohol, snack on cheese platters, dips and sweets, and have less sleep than usual (don’t stress, it’s normal - we all do it).
So how can we make sure that we are doing the right thing (as often as possible) by our bodies this summer?
It’s as simple as taking a look around you at what’s in season. Funnily enough, Mother Nature seems to be well aware of what our priorities need to be, and the produce available in the hotter months are not only incredibly hydrating, but they are also packed with antioxidants which combat UV damage, increase collagen production, fight off oxidative stress, increase immunity, support our liver, and even aid us with sleep!
Some of our favourite Summer fruit/veg are listed below along with a few of their key health benefits.
- Broccoli - one of the best things to support your liver. Broccoli stimulates the production of glutathione - a key antioxidants utilised by Phase II of your liver’s detoxification process. Get it into salads, roasts, even juice it!
- Cucumber, Celery, Zucchini, Lettuce - hello hydration! These veggies are high in water content, fibre as well as phytonutrients which boost immunity and reduce inflammation.
- Tomatoes, Chilli, Capsicum, Pumpkin - what do these all have in common? Apart from being a staple in so many of our favourite dishes, their red/orange colour tells us that they are high in a compound called Beta Carotene. Beta Carotene converts into Vitamin A in our body and is an essential antioxidant which supports eye health/vision, as well as maintenance of soft tissue, teeth, and skin. In their raw form, these veggies are an excellent source of Vitamin C (hello immunity!) and when cooked, the bio-availability of Lycopene in tomatoes increases by 150%! What is Lycopene? It’s a crucial antioxidant which protects our skin from harmful UV rays.
- Berries - who doesn’t love them? Add to salads, blend into smoothies, bake into cakes. Berries are extremely high in Vitamin C which as mentioned previously, is essential for a strong immune system but that’s not all it’s good for - this humble antioxidant helps our bodies to produce the protein collagen - a fundamental building block for our connective tissues, tendons, ligaments and skin.
- Cherries - these guys get their own special shout out due to the fact that they are one of the only vegetables which contain Melatonin - the hormone required to give us a sound night’s sleep.
Obviously on top of eating the seasonal rainbow, ensuring you are getting your 2 litres of water a day is essential! If you don’t like water - add a slice of orange or lemon to it for added flavour. Other yummy options include adding berries, basil leaves, mint leaves, or even slices of cucumber.