The Health Nut Blog

Staying Healthy Under the Summer Sun

by Heather Collins, RD, CSOWM | Aug 29, 2018

After an unusually long and cold winter, summer is finally here! They are predicting the first half of summer will be warmer than recent years. This news excites me since I love to be outdoors, and I hope our readers feel the same! If not, take a chance this year, venture out and try something new. While you’re out there, follow the advice in this article to stay safe and make the most of the season.


One of the biggest mistakes people make this time of year is letting events, activities, and busy schedules distract them from hydration needs. Reduced water intake coupled with hotter temperatures can lead to dehydration, or, more seriously, heat exhaustion/stroke.

This doesn’t mean you should avoid outdoor activities, just be smart about it:

  • Take water with you wherever you go and sip all day.
  • Wear broad spectrum sunscreen, as a burn can reduce your body’s efficiency for rehydration.
  • The rule is to drink 3 cups of water for every pound lost through sweat. If you are following a particularly grueling workout or one that exceeds an hour, you may rehydrate with a sugar free source of electrolytes such as Powerade Zero™ or unsweetened coconut water. Some athletes choose to weigh themselves before and after their workout. 
  • Signs of dehydration include thirst, skin flushing, fatigue, reduced strength, and headache.

Food Safety

In the summer, there are more outdoor eating opportunities with cookouts, camping, and holiday gatherings. It is easy to overlook a few simple ways to keep food safe as the outdoor temperatures increase. With food borne illness being a leading cause of “stomach flu” in the summer, follow the advice below to stay healthy:

  • Food should never be between 40°-140° F. Foods that are perishable shouldn’t be outside of the refrigerator for more than 2 hours, and not more than 1 hour when temperatures are above 90°F.
  • When camping, refill ice in coolers frequently, and bring a meat thermometer to heat up meats to the right internal temperatures when grilling. (beef, pork, lamb burgers: 160°F; beef, pork, lamb steaks and roasts: 145°F; poultry: 165°F; reheat leftovers to 165°F)
  • Always use separate cutting boards for meat and veggies.
  • Don’t bring foods to an outdoor potluck that contain mayo, eggs, meat, or dairy if they will be sitting out too long.

Vitamin D and the Sun

When UVB rays hit us, they begin to synthesize Vitamin D on our skin. While so many people in Michigan/Northern Indiana are Vitamin D deficient, it may seem wise to soak it up in the summer while we can. However, the American Academy of Dermatology states in their Position Statement, “there is no scientifically validated, safe threshold level of UV exposure from the sun that allows for maximal Vitamin D synthesis without increasing skin cancer risk”¹.

In general, most of our patients are safe to take 2,000 IU D3 daily to ensure proper serum levels. The best way to be sure is to have your vitamin D checked with a simple blood test, which your doctor can order. This will help your dietitian to personalize your supplement recommendations.

Summer is a great time to enjoy activities with family and friends, but don’t forget to keep it safe!


1. The American College of Dermatology and AAD Association. Position statement on vitamin D. [webpage]. 2009. Accessed on June 19, 2019.