2011-06-03 / Columnists

Health & Harmony

Commentary By Dr. Nancy Gahles

DR. NANCY GAHLES DR. NANCY GAHLES I begin with the one word that Rockawayites love to hear, Summer. We wait for this season all year long. In fact, it is a common site to see people in Rockaway wearing shorts and flip flops well into late autumn.

Beach people are a certain breed. They are friendly, laugh a lot, party a lot, ride bikes instead of taking the car, party a lot, spend long hours on the beach, did I say “party a lot”?

That’s the good thing actually. Summer is the season where it seems that one is given permission to party a lot. Partying, the new verb, is a great way to release tension and the frustrations of long work hours and the daily commute. It is due to the long hours of sunlight that partying can begin when we get home from work and still have time left to take a walk to the ocean, a dip in the pool and sit on your porch and share a glass of wine or beer or whatever libation you choose.

Partying, the socialization, the freedom, the plain old relaxation that emanates from the state of being is healing. Now, this is my kind of healing. A good wine, good friends, family, fine food and lots of laughter is essentially the description of a Johns Hopkins research paper on how to be healthy.

Certainly, we can do this during the winter, it’s just that summer is so, well, warm and conducive to relaxation. Bundling up against the cold causes tension in itself. One is more tired when one comes home from work in the dark. It is the sun that makes the difference. The much celebrated sunlight that we all bask in.

So, that brings me to disclose the fact that the sun is actually our friend. We need to be out in the sun for some time during every day. We need to be out in the sun without wearing sunglasses or sunscreen. Recent research has shown that many of our most chronic diseases are related to Vit. D deficiency. Vit.D is produced on our skin from the UVB rays of the sun. It is also produced from sun entering through our eyes. A simple rule of thumb to follow is to get 20 minutes of full body sun in the early morning or late afternoon. The UVB rays are highest at noon and they do promote Vit. D production the most but one must be very careful not to overdo exposure. A little bit will do ya. Following maximum sun exposure, the best protection is a wide brimmed hat and clothing that protects the exposed parts. Granted, for those sun worshippers who will be out all day on the beach, the need for more protection does arise.

Sunscreens all carry some degree of risk. Chemicals that are implicated in actually causing cancer themselves are to be avoided. Buyer beware! Check the label on the sunscreen BEFORE you buy it. These are the chemicals to be avoided: Parabens, Para amino benzoic acid, Octyl salicyclate, Avobenzone, Oxybenzone, Cinoxate, Padimate O, Dioxybenzone, Phenylbenzimiddazole, Homosalate, Sulibenzone, Menthly anthranilate, Trolamine salicyclate, Octocrylen.

Simply put, it is best to use a screen that is a barrier to the sun’s rays rather than one that uses chemicals to be absorbed by your body and then convert the sun’s rays. Products that are barriers to the sun are the good old fashioned zinc oxide (the white cream you see on some noses) and titanium dioxide. There is speculation that these screens can also pose some harm, as yet undetermined, due to the fact that the nanoparticles in them can be absorbed into the skin and inhaled as well. There are some products available that use very little of these such as Natural Sunscreen available online at mercola.com. This is my top pick for the safest sunscreen on the market.

Last but certainly not least is the best advice for decreasing your risk of sunburn. Nutrition! Food IS medicine and in this case it is preventive medicine, my favorite kind of medicine! Most of the damage caused cellularly by the aforementioned chemicals is due to the free radical generation they cause.

Eating a diet rich in antioxidants can radically reduce your risk of sunburn. Choose essential fatty acids wisely such as those found in walnuts, Brazil nuts, almonds and wild salmon; raw vegetables with skin that is loaded with antioxidant (must be organic, pesticide free) and dark colors like dark green leafy kale and chards and all the berries. Avoid processed foods and sugar. Basically, cut out the white products that have a shelf life of 1 year or longer. Utilize the summer season to eat and drink what is grown during this time. Close to nature is best. Live, love, laugh and get a little safe sun! Heck, it’s summer in Rockaway! Our time to shine!

Should you suffer from too much sun, too much food, too much libation or sitting in that beach chair too long, shoot me an e-mail for timely advice for quick recovery. AskDrNancy@aol.com Tele- HouseCalls can be made from the beach, porch or BBQ!

May The Blessings Be!

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