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homespun-webRISMEDIA, July 22, 2009-Summer may be the favorite time of year for most people, but it can also cause good nutrition to take an extended vacation. Not only is the season overrun with high-calorie foods and erratic eating opportunities, but the demands on the body are greater as well. Summer sports and outdoor chores combined with heat, high humidity and sun exposure put stress on muscles, joints, bones and fluid levels.

For kids and adults alike, nutrition in the summertime is more important than ever. So what’s the answer? These tips can help:

1. Get Your Fill of Water. Hydration is critical, especially in the southern states where the sudden transition from air conditioning to high heat can shock the body. To help avoid muscle cramps and headaches-and to nourish skin-drink plenty of liquids, especially water. The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition outlines the following choices along with the maximum recommended daily eight-ounce servings: water (9 for women, 13 for men), unsweetened tea (8), unsweetened coffee (4), diet sodas and calorie-free beverages (4), skim or low-fat milk (2), 100% fruit juices, whole milk, or sports drinks (1), soft drinks or juice drinks (1).

2. Find a Farmer. There isn’t a better time of year to visit local farmers markets where an amazing array of healthy produce awaits. Many vegetables are high in nutrients and fiber-kale, chard, and mustard greens offer Vitamins C and E, which are good for eyes strained by the sun. Potassium-rich potatoes and spinach help avoid muscle cramps as well. Try putting vegetables on the backyard grill along with your main course for a special treat.

3. Up Your Fruit Quotient. The sun can wreak havoc on skin during outdoor activities. To nourish skin, complement your increased water intake with fresh fruit like raspberries, blueberries, and strawberries, all of which have antioxidants and vitamin C. Bananas are also good sources of potassium.

4. Lighter is Better. Eating smaller meals more often is always a good idea, but especially in summer when people tend to miss eating at meal times or are suddenly presented with a picnic or party smorgasbord. Lighter fare is also a good way to get nutrients without excessive calories-make gazpacho or other cold soups, and try BBQ alternatives like turkey or skinless, marinated chicken. Chili is another convenient and fun summertime entrée.

5. Go Fishing. Fish, along with lean meats, beans, chickpeas, and soy products, are all high in protein, making them great not only for muscle development, but also to help hair that is overcome by exposure to sunlight and saltwater.

6. Limit High Calorie Treats. It’s easy to make ice cream a habit during warm weather, but ice cream, not to mention cookies, popsicles, pies and fried desserts, can add fat and calories much faster than increased summertime activity can work off.

7. Think About the Kids. Erratic eating can be especially hard on children during the summer-and their demand for treats can ruin anyone’s commitment to good nutrition. Try to maintain a regular meal schedule and keep only healthy snacks in the house. Having healthy snacks in the car also helps when kids suddenly start complaining.

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