Summertime loving, loving in the summertime~
While we’re enjoying our of Summer, there are some things you should consider if you are living with Lupus. Summer is a time we should all thrive, but our main goal is maintain a healthy and balanced lifestyle. There are a number of precautions we should take if we want to do just that! Today we’re going to talk about the the importance of vitamin D, the effects of UV radiation, what types of sunblock/protection we should be using, and maintaining regular exercise along with a healthy diet!
Why is Vitamin D important?
Lupus patients are common to have a Vitamin D deficiency for a number of reasons. This is something seen in a lot of Autoimmune Conditions (you can read about the basics of Autoimmune Conditions in our blog post here.) Although there is a relationship between low Vitamin D levels and Lupus patients, researchers are still trying to figure out why this occurs.
Vitamin D acts as a regulator in the Immune System. It is an essential micronutrient needed for our normal body functions. It is most commonly recognized for its role in calcium and bone formation, and is the only vitamin our body can produce naturally without having to intake other supplements.
Unfortunately for Lupus patients (and those with other Autoimmune conditions), having a Vitamin D deficiency is likely to cause an even weaker immune system.
Vitamin D Supplements can help with the regulation and prepare your skin to be exposed with the sun. The recommended daily dose of Vitamin D is about 600 IU (international units). We encourage speaking with your doctor before trying anything new.
What is Ultraviolet Radiation?
UltraViolet Radiation is a form of electromagnetic radiation. Radiation is a form of energy sending out from any source. The main source of UV rays is from the sun, but UV rays can also come from tanning beds and other man-made machines.
Different frequencies of radiation exist of spectrum, from low frequency energy waves (radio waves) to high frequencies (like x rays).
Ultraviolet waves (UV) are energy wavelengths that have a HIGH frequencies. They are so high in energy, they are able to BREAK chemical bonds (called ionization), in which bond between electrons and atoms are broken! As a result, this can cause a number of chemical reactions/bonds to occur. So when UV rays from the sun hit our skin, ionization can occur and thus cause damaging effects to our skin/DNA. It is known that UV rays can cause cancer.
There are Three Types of Ultraviolet Rays most commonly produced by sunlight:
- UVA — Ultraviolet A Rays
- UVB — Ultraviolet B Rays
- UVC — Ultraviolet C Rays
The Federal Drug Administration (FDA) is a great source to learn about UV radiation its effects. You can learn more about it in depth here!
What kind of Sunscreen or Sunblock should I use?
The sun is out longer in the Summer, so while it is important to wear sunscreen, wearing protective clothing is ESSENTIAL as well! Wide brim hats and sunglasses are great to start. Sunscreen is helpful, but to a certain extent. Layers and layers of sunscreen doesn’t necessarily protect someone from all the rays of the sun. Wearing protective clothing physically BLOCKS out the UV rays.
Choosing the right sunscreen for you and your needs is important. Whether you want to stay protective of yourself, or protective of the environment, be aware of what kind of ingredients are in sunscreen. Dr. Wood, our medical advisor highly recommends sunscreens with Zinc Oxide; this is a property found in most sunblocks that do not allow most UV rays pass through onto your skin.
In addition, if you are concerned over the environmental impacts of sunscreen, we recommend you check out the Environmental Working Group’s Guide to Sunscreen. This is a great and easy to follow guide on choosing the right sunscreen for you!
Maintaining a Balanced Diet
Let’s be honest, it’s Summer. We want to enjoy ourselves. And we want to ENJOY the foods we eat. How do we balance healthy eating while enjoying ourselves?
Let’s talk about the foods we do recommend eating:
- WATER WATER WATER!! Water is so important for your body! Your body is 70% water and needs to stay hydrated to maintain homeostasis!
- Calcium-Rich Foods such as broccoli and spinach! Not only does it keep your bones strong, Vitamin D helps absorb calcium. Maintaining a healthy amount (the daily recommended) is beneficial to you!
- Turmeric has been recognized for its anti-inflammatory properties and relieve pain. Our product, LupaVita(tm) contains turmeric to help manage symptoms of lupus. Here is a great anti-inflammatory tea recipe you can try out.
- Omega-3 Fatty Acids can be found in foods such as Salmon and Olive Oil. Omega-3 fatty acids are known to reduce triglyceride levels (fats used for metabolic fuel) ) in your blood stream. High levels of triglyceride has been cited to lead to heart disease. If you DO choose to eat Salmon, try to stay away from foods high in salt or MSG!
If you are interested in learning more about the Lupus Diet and foods we recommended eating, check out our blog post here.
Although foods such as red meats, and meals high in salt and sugar is generally advised to be avoided, we still want to enjoy ourselves. Eating these foods in moderation is definitely something we advocate for. Of course, living with Lupus effects what “moderation” means. Moderation is different for every person, because lupus case is not the same. Everyone is different! We highly recommended speaking with your medical professional on what is best for you.
Exercise and Keeping Fit
Moderate exercise is great to help with your Lupus Symptoms. Not only that, but exercise is amazing for your lifestyle in general. Exercising has so many benefits (reduce heart failure, muscle build, etc).
In the Summer heat, we strongly encourage everyone to stay hydrated with water. You can learn more about general tips about exercising here.
Whether it be a brisk walk around the neighborhood, or a sunrise hike, or even Yoga in your backyard, find a routine that is fit for you. Get a friend to join too!
LASTLY, ENJOY YOURSELF!
Of course, the most essential thing is to make sure you’re balancing out a healthy and happy lifestyle. Summer time is about having fun, but remember your health is vital. Your body is a temple, and respecting it is what we believe is essential for living at your full potential.
We hope you find that balance of happiness, health, and wholesome living. Your lupus condition is apart of you, but it DOES NOT define you. Live to your fullest. And have fun this summer.
KEY TAKEAWAYS to remember to maximize your SUMMER FUN!
- Understand your TRIGGERS! This is different for all cases of lupus, but you know your triggers best. Some people react more to excessive sunshine and heat.
- Use SUNSCREEN! Protecting yourself from harmful UVA/UVB rays is essential (whether you have Lupus or not).
- Wear PROTECTIVE clothing! Fabric like linen is nice, because it’s protective enough to block out the rays, but also cool enough to wear in the hot summer heat! Wide-brim hats are also a huge plus! (lucky for us, big hats are in season!)
- Stay HYDRATED! Drink plenty of water! Not only does this help regulate your body functions, but we prevent overheating this way. Coconut water is a great source of electrolytes, so enjoying a nice fresh coconut isn’t a bad idea on a hot summer day!
- Eat Water-Rich Foods! In general, it’s helpful to increase the consumption of “cooling foods.” Foods that are high in water content is helpful, such as watermelon, cucumber, berries, and green leafy vegetables. This not only helps your body and cells stay hydrated, but also it’s easier to digest. Give your GI track a break!
With all Support and Love,
The LupaVita Family. <3
(This post was written by Jasmine Ly)