Healthy Summer Tips

20150609_122422_resizedMinnesotans love being outside.  Fact.  Summer is a binge-fest of sunshine and fun.  People ‘go up North’.  Camping, hiking, fishing, and most cherished of all- beach days.  Yes, Minnesota is landlocked.  But we actually have more shoreline than California and Hawaii combined, thanks to our lakes.  No, the lakes aren’t as clean as the ocean.  I grew up swimming in algae-riffic lakes.  We make do 🙂

Growing up, we mostly skipped sunscreen and got super tan (with a few sunburns) every summer.  Conventional wisdom has flip-flopped on the healthiness of a tan.  Tans used to be seen as the epitome of health.  Then came the sunscreen craze and all tanning was dangerous.  Now it seems the tide is shifting again.

I’ve done my research and I opt to use sunscreen very minimally, if at all.  Sun exposure is essential for vitamin D production and also regulating internal body sleep-wake hormones.  I think one reason behind the obesity epidemic (especially among children) is that people spend too much time inside.  It is natural and healthy for kids to spend hours playing outside.  Vitamin D and exercise are critical for healthy development.  As a child, I spent hours outside playing every day, that was the norm.  There has been a pretty massive shift indoors in just 20 years.  In that same time childhood obesity rates have tripled since the 80’s.  source-

But the suns rays do contain the ultra-violet rays that can cause skin damage, true.  That is why we should take steps to enjoy the benefits while offsetting the damage.  Here is a great article about how healthy foods protect us from the inside out.  A lot of these foods are delicious and easy to get your children to eat- chocolate, apples, tomato sauce, berries, etc.

We are selective about what sunscreens we do use and when.  Most sunscreens are toxic and apparently actually cause skin cancer!  source-  Sunscreens block your body’s natural vitamin D production.  Not only that, but most contain synthetic vitamin A which oxidizes in the sunlight and can trigger cancerous growths.  Yikes.  source-

Maybe a natural tan is healthy after all?

I personally use coconut oil as a natural sunscreen for daily exposure.  For more intense exposure we use Burt’s Bees 20150609_122442_resizednatural sunscreen stick.  We all wear hats outside.  Swim shirts work great.  I have really been surprised to see how effective a natural approach is.   Two of my children are very fair-skinned.  My youngest has only been sunscreen-ed up a few times.  For all the time we spend outdoors she has only gotten a mild sunburn once.  I treated it with coconut oil and lavender oil and she was totally fine.

Here is to a summer filled with adventure, fun, sunshine and good health! 🙂


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