The 4th is a classic time to grill burgers and hot dogs by the poolside. If this is on your family agenda, here’s a few ways to make it as healthy as possible:
- Choose nitrate-free hot dogs. The American Cancer Society states that high consumption of processed meat over a decade is associated with a 50% increase in the risk for bowel and rectal cancers—where “high consumption” for men is about two slices of bacon OR half a hot dog, 5-6 days per week, and for women, a similar amount 2-3 days per week. Health food stores carry bacon (and sausage, and hot dogs) that do not contain nitrates or nitrates, and they’ll usually advertise that they are nitrate-free on the front of the package.
- Choose grass-fed hamburger meat. Most beef, if not otherwise stated, has been raised in feedlots, where they are fed GMO corn (leading to deficiency in essential fatty acids and potentially nutrient deficiencies), as well as growth hormones and plenty of antibiotics. The fat in grass-fed beef, on the other hand, is 50% anti-inflammatory and heart-healthy essential fatty acids, and it is free of antibiotics and hormones, making it a much healthier choice for your family.
- Choose Whole-Grain buns. Processed white bread has been stripped of its fiber and nutrients, and basically turns into sugar the second it encounters the enzymes in your saliva. Whole grains, on the other hand, are complex carbs; the fiber will slow the release of sugar into your bloodstream, keeping your blood sugar more stable and helping you keep off unwanted extra pounds.
- Watch Your Little Ones. Hot dogs are an easy choking hazard for toddlers. If you have small kids, make sure you cut up especially those hot dogs for them, and keep an eye on them as they eat.
This is a great time of year to increase your intake of colorful fresh berries. All those rich colors indicate the presence of powerful antioxidants. Oxidative stress is a mediating factor in heart disease, diabetes, cancer, Alzheimer’s disease, and chronic inflammatory diseases, and it is postulated to be a major contributor to cellular aging as well (…such as what happens from excessive sun exposure). Antioxidants will neutralize the free radicals that cause this oxidative stress.
Repeated sunburns are associated with some forms of skin cancer, so sunscreen is a good idea… however, most sunscreens are packed with carcinogens (cancer-causing chemicals), which defeats the purpose. So make sure that the sunscreen you choose is “clean.” (For a list of not-so-clean ingredients to avoid, click here). If you can find one, choose a zinc-based sunscreen as the active ingredient. You don’t need SPF over about 30, though, because after that point you’re getting diminishing returns (SPF 15 blocks about 94% of sun’s rays, while SPF 30 blocks about 97%, and SPF 45 blocks 98%… you get the idea).
Apply sunscreen half an hour before going outside, and reapply every two hours for best protection.
Beat the Heat
It’s easy to get dehydrated in this Arizona weather if you’re not careful. Make sure that you (and your kids) are chugging at least half your body weight in ounces of water daily, and more if you’re sweating. For example, if you weigh 180 lbs, you will need to consume at least 90 ounces of water daily. Especially if you’re sweating, you’ll also want to make sure you add some electrolytes to your fluids as well, for optimal cellular rehydration.
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