Summer is the time for playing outdoor sports, eating at picnics and BBQs with la familia y amigos. However, some commonly made mistakes keep Latinos for being healthy. That is why a team of physicians at Mount Sinai Hospital took it upon themselves to debunk four of the most common summertime myths among Latinos.
Since some Latinos have dark skin, they believe that they don’t need sunscreen
“A misunderstanding among Latinos is that, because many have dark skin tones, sunscreen is not necessary,” says Dr. Samer Kottiech, M.D. and Cardiologist. “However, to avoid skin cancer, everyone needs to frequently apply sunscreen regardless of their skin tone,” he adds. Dr. Kottiech recommends reapplying the sunscreen every 30 minutes after the first application. Also, be sure to cover your entire body and use at least one shot glass of sunscreen with each application.
If I drink beverages like coffee, soda and beer, I do not need water
With temperatures rising, it’s critical that your body is well hydrated. “Water is not the popular drink among most Latinos,” says Dr. Carlos Driggs, MD and specialist in Internal Medicine. “However, in order to avoid heat stroke, it is best to drink between 1-2 glasses of water before going outdoors, especially during summer.” Also, Dr. Driggs suggests to increase the consumption of water by 2 glasses an hour, if you are drinking alcohol or exercising, making sure you carry a bottle of water with you at all times to keep hydrated.
If food is cooked, it can’t spoil
During summer, emergency rooms see a lot of patients who contracted food poisoning due to food that was not properly refrigerated. Since outdoor eating functions are so popular among Latinos, they are often impacted. “One commonly made mistake is to leave food outside after a picnic or BBQ,” adds Dr. Rajeev Sindhwani, MD, Cardiovascular Disease Physician. “You can avoid food poisoning by following a few simple rules: 1. Handle food with clean hands; 2. Use separate cutting boards for meats and vegetables; 3. Don’t leave food outdoors; 4. Use a meat thermometer to ensure meat is cooked thoroughly,” and 5. Make sure to clean the grill or cover it with aluminum foil before cooking any fresh meat or vegetables to avoid contamination from previously cooked food residue.
If you trim the fat, you lose the flavor
Another misconception among Latinos, is if they remove the skin from their chicken or trim the fat from their beef, their food will be tasteless. “Meats will taste just as flavorful by incorporating a variety of spices, fruits and vegetables,” says Dr. Eliscer Guzmán, M.D. F.A.C.C. “By taking this approach, Latinos will live a healthier life and avoid cardiovascular diseases and diabetes, two diseases currently plaguing the Latino community.” Dr. Guzman recommends taking advantage of the abundant fresh fruits during the summer that are available at a reasonable price.
Dr. Guzmán adds, “Portions sizes can make a tremendous difference to your overall health also. A common rule of thumb for portions is to make sure the size of meat is roughly the size of the palm of your hand.”