5 Summer Supplements To Keep In Your Cupboard
Many of us will start thinking about stocking up on supplements during the autumn and winter months, as we head into immunity season. But what about supplements for summer? Stocking up your cupboard with summer ready supplements can be a great way to support you and your family’s health in a variety of ways.
In this blog, Nutritionist Tim Gaunt looks at some of the most common summer health and wellness challenges, suggest some top lifestyle tips, and shares the best summer supplements to look out for.
This year, for many, will provide the first opportunity to travel abroad for several years. Whilst this is extremely exciting, it also increases the likelihood of picking up bugs that can have a dampening effect on our holiday fun. Unfamiliar foods, over-indulging (more on this later) and water borne, harmful bacteria – in both seawater and drinking water – can all leave the digestive system feeling rather delicate.
One problem which can ruin many holidays is the development of traveller’s diarrhoea or holiday tummy. It has long been thought that taking a daily supplement of good bacteria may help to avoid this issue, a hypothesis which is now backed by science.
Specific bacteria strains such as Lactobacillus acidophilus and Streptococcus thermophilus have been shown to be effective in this area, so if you are aiming to support your digestive system whilst on holiday, look out for supplements which include these bacteria.
Many of us are conditioned to think that we only need to look after our immune health during the winter months and, whilst the past two and a half years may have changed this attitude for some, many still ignore their immune system in the summer months. However, the amount of close contact and socialising we partake in during the summer can lead to uninvited guests visiting in the form of viruses and bacteria. Crowds, festivals and travelling abroad can all leave the immune system vulnerable. There are plenty of ways to help support your immune system all year round.
Dietary suggestions for a healthy immune response:
- Get your 5-a-day: Fresh produce provides important immune boosting nutrients like vitamin C and beta carotene.
- Add garlic to your food. Garlic contains a compound called allicin which has been shown to possess natural anti-bacterial properties. It is certainly no coincidence that the coveted Mediterranean diet – renowned for its health benefits – includes plenty. Garlic is also said to keep mosquitoes away for those enjoying a holiday abroad.
- Limit tea, coffee and alcohol. Whilst the caffeine in tea and coffee may give a temporary energy lift, they do not really support immune health. Although popular during the summer months, alcohol is known to supress the immune system, and depletes the body of nutrients, so ideally avoid drinking alcohol when you feel ‘run down’.
Lifestyle choices to support the immune system:
- Get your 8 hours sleep. Sleep is key to a healthy immune system, as well as being vital to energy levels and mental wellbeing.
- Learn to deal with stress. Stress impairs the immune response and can negatively impact sleep.
- Make time to exercise. Exercise can help to support a healthy immune system, reduce stress, and improve sleep. However, make sure you don’t overdo it as over exercising can make things worse.
Supplements can also help support the immune system as ensuring that you get enough of those immune supporting nutrients from the diet can be tricky. Handy on the go supplements like Immune Effervescent or Vitamin C Effervescent make a pleasant drink and support the immune system into the bargain! My personal favourite for all year long support is Beta Glucans Immune Support which combines beta glucans with immune support vitamins A, C and D plus Zinc and Selenium alongside garlic and elderberry for a fantastic all in one solution.
Hay Fever Relief
For many the advent of the summer months heralds the opportunity to spend lots of time outdoors in the sunshine. This is definitely a time to look forward to, unless of course you suffer with hay fever, then it may not be quite so wonderful. As everyone starts mowing their lawn and the trees, flowers and shrubs break into bloom, the hay fever sufferer finds their eyes starting to become red and swollen, their throat tickling and most often their nose streaming.
However, all is not lost – there are some great natural ways to help to reduce hay fever symptoms.
A drink in the sunshine can be one of the joys of summer. Unfortunately, certain drinks will make hay fever symptoms much worse including red wine, beer and lager. This is because these drinks all increase histamine, and therefore aggravate hay fever symptoms. Therefore, when hitting the beer garden, it would be better to choose white wine, gin or vodka.
Other histamine elevating foods include coffee and cheese, so avoiding these as far as possible would also be helpful. Dairy products in general can certainly exacerbate the mucous that we produce, something hay fever sufferers want to eliminate as much as possible.
Natural remedies can also play a part in alleviating hay fever symptoms with key nutrients to look out for including:
- Quercetin – found in many foods, including apples and onions, quercetin has been identified as a natural antihistamine, helping to reduce inflammation, runny noses and irritated eyes.
- MSM – a natural source of sulphur, it has been noted that MSM is particularly useful for the itching eyes and irritated throat in trials.
- Vitamin C – vitamin C helps to support the immune system, and can have a natural anti-histamine action, reducing the amount of histamine produced.
With all that summer offers there sometimes seems like there is just not enough hours in the day to enjoy it to the maximum. Keeping up those energy levels to enjoy it to its fullest can seem to be a difficult task. Many people are looking for something which may help to improve their body’s energy production, and therefore reduce feelings of tiredness and fatigue. Instead of reaching for a cup of coffee, or an energy drink, I would recommend trying an Energy Effervescent with guarana, caffeine and B-vitamins.
Certain vitamins and minerals can also help to ensure that your body has the support it needs for healthy and sustained energy production. When taking a multivitamin, if you want an energy lift look for one with a good vitamin B complex. This is because B vitamins help to support energy production and are known to reduce tiredness and fatigue. Vitamin B5 also increases mental function and improves our production of important neurotransmitters like serotonin (our feel-good hormone). A good multivitamin will also provide excellent levels of minerals like selenium and chromium to support healthy thyroid function and healthy blood sugar levels, which in turn support the body in maintaining healthy energy levels.
Summer Skin Care
The sun is one of the main reasons we travel, but it comes with the need to take care and protect our skin. There are some fantastic sun creams available which protect the skin without adding unwanted chemicals. I would also recommend aloe vera gel to apply to the skin as a soothing after sun treatment, as well as ensuring an adequate intake of antioxidants such as beta carotene and vitamins C and E. A good antioxidant level can be is achieved by eating plenty of fresh fruit and vegetables or adding a daily multivitamin to your routine. Antioxidants will help to protect the skin from the harmful rays of the sun. Good hydration is also important to prevent sunburn.
For those looking for summer ready skin care supplements, I would also recommend considering omega oils which provide essential fatty acids. The membrane surrounding the cells of our skin are primarily made from essential fatty acids and it’s thought that these important nutrients may protect against the sun’s harmful ultra-violet rays. Increasing your intake of these important fats is an excellent way to support skin health during the summer months. My favourite source of these nutrients is Krill Oil [which not only provides the omega-3 fatty acids in the most bioavailable form but also contains astaxanthin. Astaxanthin is amongst the most potent of the carotenoid antioxidants and has been heralded as a natural sunscreen making Krill oil a fantastic alternative to fish oil in summer.
Once again, we have reached that time of year when many of us will be attending festivals, BBQs, parties, going on holidays or all of these. During these times it becomes easy to either eat too much, drink too much or, in all likelihood, both. Over-indulgence is as much a part of the summer as Wimbledon and many of us are all too familiar with the consequences of this excess!
To aid the recovery process we first need to address our diet. I would recommend restricting the intake of sugar, salt and wheat-based foods whilst avoiding red meat, processed foods and ready-made meals, along with tea, coffee and alcohol. We need to lighten the load on the digestive system, which can be helped by focusing on eating mainly fruit and vegetables, with fruit juices and homemade soups. Eating as much food as possible in its raw state will also be beneficial, as it helps to preserve the enzymes naturally present in the food. We can support our enzymes naturally present in the body by using a digestive enzyme supplement[ too.
Keeping the bowels moving effectively is also important for a healthy recovery. Therefore, the use of high fibre foods such as pulses, porridge, millet, quinoa and brown rice as well as ensuring adequate fluid intake are important. It is recommended to drink at least 2 litres of water per day, preferably at room temperature. Herbal teas can also be a great idea, for their cleansing properties and as a pleasant alternative to water.
We will get even better results by supporting our organs of elimination and general metabolism with supplements. DigestEeze® Milk Thistle is one supplement that can help due to its ability to relieve the symptoms associated with occasional overindulgence of food and drink such as indigestion and upset stomach. (Based on traditional use only).
A good multivitamin and mineral is essential for the processing of food and the removal of toxins whereas an antioxidant rich formulation provides the added benefit of helping to neutralise damaging free radicals. Chlorophyll rich green foods such as Spirulina also offer great benefit to those looking to cleanse their systems.
My top five summer supplements to keep in your cupboard are:
- DigestEeze Milk Thistle – for those times when you over-indulge.
- Friendly Bacteria – ideal to support your body from the not so friendly ones.
- Beta Glucans – great immune supporting nutrient, try to find one with added vitamins and minerals.
- Multivitamins and Minerals – all round support for an active Summer.
- Quercetin – if you are unlucky enough to suffer with hay fever.
Tim Gaunt BSc (Hons) CBiol MSB D.N. gained his degree in Biochemistry from the University of Lancaster in 1988. Tim has gained over 30 years’ experience in the field of nutrition, and also holds the position of chartered biologist which was granted by the Institute of Biology.