“Oh when I look back now, that summer seemed to last forever...those were the best days of my life," sang Bryan Adams.
And he wasn’t wrong. There’s something about summer that has us all living our best lives.
The sunny weather leads to sunnier moods, which leads to all round sunnier times.
But it isn’t just our attitudes that improve, science says we’re actually healthier during the summer months.
We up the H20
Whether we’re inspired by the ‘Love Island’ lot continuously supping on their personalised bottles or the hot weather simply has us feeling thirstier, we tend to up our water drinking game in the summer months.
And this means we’re more inclined to drink the recommended two litres of water a day needed for optimum health.
“Our fluid requirements increase when the weather is warmer which ultimately will trigger us to drink more,” explains Nutritionist, Lily Soutter.
And that’s important because it helps us to avoid dehydration.
“As much as 65% of our body consists of water and dehydration can have a huge impact on energy, concentration, short-term memory and even mood!” she explains.
“In fact, even mild dehydration has also been shown to cause a drop in workplace productivity. A large Meta analysis concluded that dehydration can impair cognitive performance, particularly for tasks which involve attention and concentration. The researchers found that functions such as complex problem solving and coordination also suffered.”
If you struggle with plain water (like the 62% of us who don’t drink any water every day) Soutter suggests trying a cold-pressed vegetable juice or even a homemade ice-tea.
We fill up on the fruit and veg
Struggle to hit the recommended daily allowance of five portions of fruit and veg in the winter months? We hear ya! Thankfully in the summer, salads and sliced melon is all we want to eat.
“Fruit and veg is certainly much more juicy and flavoursome when in season,” says Soutter. “What’s more, on hot sunny days we tend to reach for light, vibrant salads and cooling fresh fruit which can be much more appealing than heavy comfort foods.”
Lily says in season summer foods include berries, aubergine, broccoli, cucumber, fennel, rhubarb, tomatoes and watercress which are not only refreshing, but offer a powerhouse of health promoting nutrients.
We’re getting an increased Vitamin D hit
From the al fresco drinking to eating our lunch in the sun, simply spending more time outdoors increases our fill of Vitamin D which has knock-on effects for our health.
“Vitamin D is known as the sunshine vitamin for good reason,” explains Soutter.
“This nutrient is manufactured within the body when our skin is exposed to sunlight and plays a key role with bone health, immune function and even mood.
“It’s impossible to get enough of this sunshine vitamin during the winter months. During the spring and summer months spending 15-20 minutes outdoors each day can help to top up our levels.”
We have better skin
Whilst the actual reasoning isn’t entirely clear, many report that a bit of sun, sea and sand can do wonders for their skin.
“This is particularly true for specific skin conditions such as psoriasis which appear to improve during the summer months,” explains Soutter.
“Light therapy is sometimes used for the treatment of psoriasis, also known as phototherapy,” adds Dr Gabriel Serrano Founder of Sesderma. “The sun is a source of light and therefore, sunlight can help reduce symptoms of psoriasis.”
Dr Serrano says that UVB rays in particular can be effective at treating psoriasis symptoms, as they can help to slow the rapid rate of skin growth.
But although sun rays increase the level of vitamin D in the skin which helps treatment of psoriasis, the sun rays also dry the skin and can lead to appearance of wrinkles.
Dr Serrano recommends using a daily moisturiser to keep skin moisturised.
“It's crucial that we protect ourselves in the sunshine; by avoiding too much sun exposure and making sure that we keep our SPF topped up throughout the day, to avoid sun damage,” he adds.
We sleep like babies
Disclaimer: apart from in a heatwave.
Waking up to the sun and getting early-morning exposure to its light can help those suffering from sleep disorders such as insomnia get a better night’s shut eye.
“Our body has a natural time-keeping clock, which is referred to as our circadian rhythm, and we produce hormones which signal for our body to tell us when it’s time to sleep,” explains Soutter.
“Exposure to natural sunlight or bright light during the day can help to keep our circadian rhythm healthy and may improve sleep quality and duration. One study has even shown that day time bright light exposure reduced the time it took insomniacs to fall asleep by as much as 83%.”
On a slightly sexier note, the hot weather (particularly in the recent heatwave) makes us more likely to ditch our jammies, and sleeping naked has its own set of health benefits.
Spending more time outdoors is good for the mind
Who wants to leave the comfort of their sofa when it’s grey and cold outside? But sunny days mean we’re much more likely to trade Netflix for a nature fix.
“Research has shown that fresh air and nature is associated with greater vitality,” explains Soutter. “Exercising outdoors can also improve mood and even self-esteem.”
What’s more, exposure to sunlight can increase the production of the happy hormone serotonin.
“During the darker winter months, a lack of light may affect our serotonin levels. This can be particularly problematic for those suffering with seasonal affective disorder (SAD).”
We sweat more and sweating is good for us
There’s no getting around it, the heat of the summer is going to make us sweat. While this can present some problems, hello chafing, sweat also comes with a whole host of benefits, besides cooling you down.
“Sweating has benefits beyond temperature regulation; our skin is one large organ which may be a route for the elimination of toxic elements from the body such as heavy metals,” Soutter explains.
Not only does it help to detox your body and open your pores, getting rid of the nasty bacteria that builds up, sweating it out can also make your skin healthier and boost your mood by upping your endorphins.
So don’t fret the sweat.