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The Ultimate Guide To Staying Healthy Over Summer Vacation

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June 5, 2013

One of the best parts of summer is vacation! It can be easy to let our healthy habits slide into the background, but you can still have that margarita while maintaining your hydration, preventing skin damage, and inventing new ways to be active. Avoid the after-vacation guilt trip by choosing some of the quick tips below.


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You want to stay hydrated so you stock up on water bottles. Most brands come in plastic, some even BPA-free, but be wary of leaving that plastic bottle of water in your car or on your beach towel when it's 90 degrees outside. BPA and other toxins from the plastic can seep into your water making it unsafe to drink. Be safe and spend a couple of extra dollars to buy a refillable glass bottle.

Sweating profusely?

Good! Our skin is one of the primary ways we rid our body of toxins — but we can lose valuable electrolytes if it's excessive. Try coconut water to replace electrolytes and avoid the sugar, artificial colors, and preservatives of popular rehydration formulas. Look for brands that are 100 percent pure and contain no added sugar. If diabetic or watching sugar intake, try diluting coconut water with spring water. Or to quiet hunger pains until the next rest stop, mix 50 percent coconut water and 50 percent unsweetened vanilla almond milk. Want some fizz? Try kombucha, which is full of energizing enzymes, vitamins, and gut-friendly bacteria, and is available in a variety of flavors.

Feeling jet lagged?

If traveling between time zones, avoid jet lag by trying this simple solution. If going east, expose yourself to natural light during the day. If going west, expose yourself to natural light in the evening. If you're super sensitive to time change, try a natural sleep aid like melatonin to reset your internal circadian clock. If you need a light snack, try a handful of sacha inchi seeds, which contain tryptophan — a precursor to serotonin (and what makes you sleepy after eating turkey)!

Dreading the inevitable sunburn?

Eat more watermelon — or raspberries and strawberries. Anything with a red hue that contain the antioxidant lycopene, which can help protect your skin from free radicals and sun damage by harmful UV rays. According to research, pomegranates are particularly effective due to their ellagic acid content. A meta-analysis showed that beta carotene found in cantaloupe and apricots may also help prevent sunburns! If sunburn does occur, try a cool milk compress for 15 minutes.

Got dirty hands?

While it's always better to use soap and water, sometimes that just isn't available! Hand sanitizer is a great alternative, but be careful avoid triclosan, which is a dangerous endocrine-disrupting chemical hidden in many household products (mouthwash, toothpaste, toys, and dishwashing liquid), and may be linked to problems with fertility, early puberty, and thyroid abnormalities. Check out the Environmental Working Group's site to see if your favorite brands contain this harmful ingredient, as sometimes it's not labeled.

No access to a gym?

That's ok — incorporate exercise into your day. Lace up your gym shoes and go walking to take in some fresh air and new sights. Keep track of your miles and calories with free apps like Runkeeper, or put on a pedometer. Instead of renting a car, rent a bike (and a helmet) and plan for fun pit stops in between. If you find yourself surrounded by nature, go for a hike. If you are confined to resort living, see who has the coolest dance water moves in the pool or ocean.

Nowhere to snack but the gas station?

Plan ahead and pack healthy snacks to avoid binging in the candy bar aisle while you fill up. You can easily make your own trail mix with a trip to your local bulk bin. Most pre-made trail mixes actually contain hidden preservatives and are high in sugar. If you must grab a snack, steer clear of the candy aisle and grab a pack of raw sunflower seeds or almonds.

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Tiffany Lester, M.D.
Tiffany Lester, M.D.
Functional Medicine Doctor

Tiffany Lester, M.D. is the National Clinical Director of Community at Parsley Health San Francisco, a groundbreaking new medical practice that focuses on nutrition, prevention, and wellness. She received her bachelor's in psychology and biology from the University of Missouri, Columbia, and her medical degree from the University of Cincinnati College of Medicine. Lester combines the best of both conventional and functional medicine, navigating the complexity of the body to get to the root cause of disease. She is passionate about healing chronic disease through whole foods and teaching people how simple, small shifts can have an enormous impact on their fatigue, stress, and pain levels.