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The 3 Things You Should Do For Your Body This Summer

After all, it’s best to stay on its good side.

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Woman in a yellow bikini lays at the beach
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Summer, in all its glory, is our chill-and-relax season. Schools are out, vacations are finally here, and we get to paint our toenails red and head to the beach to blissfully spend our free days with a good, trashy page-turner. Summer makes few demands on us, which is maybe why we call it the idyllic season — perfect in so many ways.

Yet, there are a few things your body would like you to know about summer.

Wear sunscreen like your life depends on it, because it kind of does.

According to the Skin Cancer Foundation, 1 in 5 Americans will develop skin cancer before their 70th birthday. More than two people die of skin cancer in the U.S. every hour. Having five or more sunburns over the course of your lifetime doubles your risk for melanoma. And here’s the really scary statistic: More people are diagnosed with skin cancer each year in the U.S. than develop all other cancers combined. What’s the number 1 cause of skin cancer? You guessed it: exposure to the sun’s ultraviolet (UV) rays.

Our bodies have been cringing — and wrinkling — from sun exposure probably since Adam and Eve strolled around in the garden. Remember how sun worshippers of the past liberally doused themselves with baby oil and sat out under aluminum foil reflectors in the quest for a good scalding? That routine of burn, blister and then peel — all in the name of chasing a dark tan — was about the worst thing we could have done. And damage to our skin is compounded.

The solution, of course, is to avoid exposure to the sun’s powerful UV rays. Use a strong sunscreen every day, even if the skies are cloudy, and sit under the shade of an umbrella at the beach or when you eat outside.

Big sunglasses aren’t just trendy — they’re good for you.

Oversize sunglasses may be the world’s ultimate symbol of class and coolness (think former first lady Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis). But it turns out that sunglasses are more than just a fashion statement; they’re also good for our health. They block the long-term UV exposure that increases the risk of developing cataracts or macular degeneration. Also, according to the Cleveland Clinic, long-term UV exposure can cause tissue elevations on the surface of the eye, known as pingueculae and pterygia.

Although this may be stating the obvious, big sunglasses do a better job than smaller ones of covering and protecting a larger area of your face, not just your eyes. And last, big sunglasses hide a multitude of sins. They cover up lines, wrinkles and dark circles under your eyes from lack of sleep or too much alcohol.

Drink more water, even if you bloat.

Water is our body’s best friend — and makes up from 50 to 70 percent of body weight, notes the Mayo Clinic. Water sends the impurities in our body on their merry way, which is a very good thing. Staying hydrated helps us maintain a normal temperature, lubricates joints, keeps urinary tract infections and kidney stones at bay, and keeps us from feeling sluggish, according to leading medical institutions.

The problem is that, as we get older, we dehydrate more easily. So, how much should we drink a day? Since personal and health factors impact the answer to that question, ask your doctor or aim to follow the rule of thumb to drink until your urine runs clear.

OK, but what if your belly distends? Hey, it happens. When you drink, the liquid travels to your stomach, where it’s absorbed into the bloodstream and used to hydrate the cells. But sometimes an increased volume of fluid is retained and stored by the small intestine until your body needs to process it, reports a 2012 study published in ISRN Gastroenterology. Plus, water bloat isn’t the same as normal bloating, which occurs when the digestive tract is filled with air or gas.

A water bloat will pass as soon as the water is processed by the body. If it really becomes an issue, lay off the sparkling water, which has air bubbles that cause the gastrointestinal tract to become filled with air and stick to still water. Another tip: Lose the straws, which are bad for the environment and not good for your belly either. Drinking through a straw can push more air into the gastrointestinal tract. And sip, don’t gulp. It’s better to take small sips all day long than to chug down a full glass all at once. Trust us, your body will thank you.

Now, regarding that good, trashy page-turner, we’re open to recommendations!

How much water do YOU try to drink each day? Let us know in the comments below.

Follow Article Topics: Health