An oldie but a goodie: this post was originally published on 4/14/16.
Springtime brings with it a flurry of activity and a sense of renewal. The flowers bloom, the weather warms, and I get an intense drive to clean my home and refresh it for a new season. Although this season abounds with fresh opportunities, it also brings its own health concerns (pollen, anyone?). Follow these tips to help you have a healthy spring and enjoy the best of the season!
Eat local honey
If you’re anything like me, you might have a love-hate relationship with all of the vegetation that springs up (heh) during this time of the year – it’s gorgeous of course, but it also means a runny nose and watery eyes. Seasonal allergies are no walk in the park, but local honey could be a sweet way to help ward off these annoying symptoms.
Most of the evidence regarding the immunizing effects of eating local honey is anecdotal in nature, but it’s promising enough that many allergy sufferers swear by this technique. The idea is that the bees who produce local honey harvest their nectar from local plants and pick up pollen particles from these plants on the way. These pollen particles make their way into the honey in low concentrations. Eating a spoon of local honey everyday can help desensitize your body’s immune reaction to the local pollen over time.
With the weather warming up, we can all benefit from spending some extra time outdoors. According to research by the University of Rochester, getting outside can increase people’s overall sense of wellbeing and vitality, because spending time in nature stimulates the reward neurons in your brain, lowers cortisol levels, lowers heart rate and blood pressure, and improves immune response. Spending time outside can also improve your cognitive function and mental health. Research from the University of Michigan has found that interacting with nature for an hour can improve memory and attention by 20 percent. Plus, the UVB exposure you get from sunlight helps regulate melatonin which improves your mood and energy levels.
Use sun protection
With the longer days and stronger sunlight upon us, protecting your skin from the sun becomes very important. Nobody enjoys being sunburned, and exposure to ultraviolet radiation from the sun increases your risk of developing skin cancer and of prematurely aging your skin. The Skin Cancer Foundation suggests using a broad spectrum sunscreen with an SPF of 15 or higher every day, and using a water-resistant sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or higher for extended outdoor activity.
Spending more time outside and the rising heat makes hydration extra important this time of the year. Severe dehydration is highly dangerous, but even chronic mild dehydration can affect your digestion, skin, and even your mental health and focus. Keep a bottle on hand to help ward off these symptoms. If you get bored with plain water, try throwing in some fresh fruit for a refreshing spin.
There is plenty of delicious produce that hits its peak in spring here in Florida. Eating fruits and veggies that are in season is generally cheaper than buying out-of-season fruit thanks to the high quantity available. Also, in-season produce is generally more local, plus it’s more nutritious and delicious because it has had time to ripen to its full potential before getting harvested. This time of year look for bell peppers, blueberries, cantaloupe, carrots, cucumbers, eggplants, guava, oranges, papayas, and watermelon.