If it feels like the summer of 2021 has been a long time coming, well that’s because it has been! The sun is out (periodically at least), we’re allowed to meet up with friends and family again and have our bags packed for our UK staycations. But as temperatures rise this summer, it’s essential that you pay close attention to two important aspects of your health: your skin and your hydration.
Did you know? Our bodies are made up of approximately 60% water and proper hydration is essential for our overall health – not just in the summer months. The water that we consume optimises blood pressure, regulates body temperature, lubricates joints, help to move waste out of the body and aids in digestion.
So, our bodies are made of 60% water, but did you know that the skin is our largest organ with adults having 2 square meters of it? Our fleshy covering does a lot more than make us look presentable. It acts as a waterproof, insulating shied that guards the body against extremes of temperature and damaging sunlight. It also protects against infection while manufacturing vitamin D and at the same time, allowing us free movement.
As humans, we ‘shed our skin’ approximately every five weeks as our body produces new cells, but that doesn’t mean we don’t have to look after it. Keep reading to find out more!
What happens if we don’t get enough water?
Dehydration is commonly associated with muscle cramps, fatigue and extreme thirst but did you know that dehydration also affects your brain?
Our brain is made up of around 73% water and if we don’t keep on top of our water intake, especially in hot weather or while exercising, our thinking and cognition can suffer. In fact, a 2% reduction in body water weight (just 3lbs on a 150lb person) can lead to problems with short-term memory, attention, and visual tracking.
A good measure of your level of hydration is the colour of your urine. Pale urine (the colour of straw) indicates adequate hydration while darker coloured urine is a sign that your body needs more fluids.
Why do we need more water in the summer?
With increased summer temperatures and outdoor activities comes increased water loss—through sweating and evaporation—as your body works to stay cool, therefore, we need to drink more to replace the lost fluids.
How to stay hydrated
To put it simply… just drink more!
But for some, this isn’t an easy habit to create. However, you should start hydrating right away as it’s easier to maintain your fluid balance if you start out in a well-hydrated state. So, drink water before you exercise, work, or spend time outside when it’s warm. Then continue to do so during and throughout your day.
We recommend investing in a reusable water bottle – not only does this reduce environmental harm but you’ll be much more likely to sip throughout the day if you keep your bottle nearby.
If you don’t enjoy drinking plain water, why not try infusing it with fruits or vegetables? Limes, lemons, oranges, berries, and cucumbers all make for a refreshing option without any added artificial sweeteners or preservatives!
Healthy Performance Hydration Testing
Urinalysis testing is available during our option 4 and option 5 employee health assessments. This test us used to detect and manage a wide range of disorders such as kidney disease and diabetes.
A urinalysis involves checking the appearance, concentration, and content of urine with abnormal results possibly pointing to a disease or illness.
However, we can also obtain a hydration reading through this test by looking at the specific gravity of the urine sample.
The results from this hydration test allows individuals to either continue with their existing amount of daily liquids or consciously make the effort to increase their hydration levels, improving fatigue and concentration levels.
You can easily monitor your own hydration levels by comparing the colour of your urine against this chart.
To find out more about our employee health assessments please click here: https://www.healthyperformance.co.uk/employee-health-checks/
The important of SPF
Did you know, that wearing SPF daily, even in winter, is essential whether you are spending time outdoors or not. Ultraviolet A (UVA) rays are the ones that cause us to tan but also cause skin to age prematurely, leading to visible effects such as wrinkles and are associated with some skin cancers. The reason it’s important to wear SPF, even indoors, is because UVA rays can penetrate through windows causing damage to your skin even while you’re inside.
Ultraviolet B (UVB) rays damage the outermost layers of the skin and cause most skin cancers. Overexposure to UVB rays is what leads to sunburn.
The SPF number that you may see on the packaging of some moisturisers as well as sun creams tells you how long the sun’s UV radiation would take to redden your skin when using the product exactly as directed, versus the amount of time without any sunscreen. For example, with SPF30, it is suggested that it would take you 30 times longer to burn than if you weren’t wearing any.
The Skin Cancer Foundation recommends a water-resistant, broad-spectrum (look for zinc oxide in the ingredients!) sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or higher for any extended outdoor activity. Regardless of the SPF, though, it’s important to apply one ounce (two tablespoons) 30 minutes before going outside and reapply it every two hours or immediately after swimming or sweating.
Every single one of us should be wearing SPF daily! No one should be without it. It doesn’t matter what your skin tone by birth, and it doesn’t matter how old you are. We all need to protect our skin. Just because you cannot see your skin burning, does not mean it’s not being damaged. Regardless of race, regardless of age. We all need to shield, nurture, and protect our skin, no matter what.
According to Cancer Research UK, melanoma skin cancer incidence rate in the UK are projected to rise by 7% by 2035.
The main cause of skin cancer is excessive UV radiation from either the sun or sunbeds. In the UK alone, 9 in 10 cases of melanoma could be prevented by taking the correct precautions, as well as avoiding the use of sunbeds altogether.
For some, there are other non-avoidable factors that can contribute to your likelihood of developing skin cancer. These including having blonde or red hair, having blue eye, older age, having a large number of moles or freckles, pre-existing conditions and taking medication that suppresses your immune system. So, if any of these are relevant to you, make sure you take extra care in looking after your skin. After all, it is the largest organ in our body!
As much as we all love being beautifully bronzed, there is no safe or healthy way to get a tan unless of course we use fake tan. Ensuring that your skin doesn’t burn and using at least SPF30 sunscreen can greatly reduce the risks of sun overexposure.
Many of us presume that we only need to apply sunscreen during the height of summer but even in the cooler, cloudier months, UV rays still penetrate through the clouds, and windows, reaching your skin.
Wearing SPF, covering up with suitable clothing and protecting your head and eyes with hats and sunglasses can all help to protect your skin and reduce your risk of skin cancer from UV exposure.