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Get ready for summer

The Doctors | 4/27/2013, 8 p.m.

Research suggests that when lycopene is combined with other carotenoids (like beta-carotene, and vitamins C and E), it may help protect against sunburn. Watermelon is also an excellent source of vitamin C (which boosts the immune system), vitamin A (good for eye health). A recent study suggests another of its compounds may promote heart health.

Chew less sugarless gum.

Go easy on hard candies, too -- especially if you plan to hit the beach in a bikini. Gum and candy often contain sugar alcohols (such as sorbitol, maltitol and xylitol) -- sweeteners that are lower in calories than regular sugar, but when eaten in excess, could trigger bloating. Plus, the act of chewing (the gum) and sucking (the candy) will likely cause you to swallow extra air, which can build up in your stomach and intestines and boost belly pooch. Other ways to reduce bloating: Cut back on carbonated drinks and gas-producing foods such as baked beans, broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, apples and peaches.

Know the signs of overheating.

Warm weather draws everyone -- from kids to adults, casual walkers to extreme sport-ers -- outdoors for some fun in the sun, but staying in too-hot weather for too long raises your risk of heat-related illness. Muscle cramps or profuse sweating may be an early indicator; nausea, vomiting, headache, dizziness, weakness and cold, clammy skin are all signs of heat exhaustion.

If you have any of these symptoms, move to a cooler spot, lie down and loosen your clothing, sip water and, if possible, apply cool, wet cloths to your body. Ignore the signs, and it may progress to heat stroke, a condition that occurs when your body temperature is greater than 104 degrees, resulting in hot, red skin, extreme confusion, irrational behavior and possible unconsciousness. Heat stroke is a life-threatening condition that requires immediate medical attention.

Shower before pool-swimming.

That's right -- before. The reason: to help keep disease-causing germs out of the water. A recent CDC report suggests one in three people think chlorine kills all germs instantly, but that's not the case -- some survive for days, even in well-maintained pools. Crypto (short for cryptosporidium) is one of those resilient germs -- it's the leading cause of swimming pool-related outbreaks of diarrhea, with reported cases on the rise, and swallowing just a little contaminated water can get you sick.

Rinsing off before diving in is one way to helps prevent the spread of germs; it's also smart to take young kids on bathroom breaks and check diapers often, avoid getting pool water in your mouth, and skip the pool entirely if you have diarrhea. You can't know for sure if a public pool is contaminated, but a strong chemical smell is not necessarily a good sign: Well-chlorinated pools have little or no odor, a potent smell indicates a maintenance problem. The water should also be clear enough for you to see the pool floor and the sides should not be sticky or slimy.

Soak scaly feet.

It's the first step to getting cracked, callused heels and toes sandal-ready. Before bed, submerge your feet in warm water mixed with 4 Tbs. of olive oil for 20 minutes; then use a pumice stone, foot file or exfoliating scrub to thin that thickened skin and smooth rough patches. Rub feet with baby oil, then put on socks and hit the sack. In the morning, your feet with be softer, more supple, and ready to slip into your favorite summer shoes. One note: If flip flops are your first pick, choose a sturdy pair (if it folds in half, it's no good), preferably made of soft leather (to minimize the risk of blisters), and make sure it fits well (so no part of your foot hangs off the edge). Flip flops are fine for the pool or at the beach, but don't wear them to walk long distances becasue they offer limited shock absorption and arch support. For a list of brands approved by the American Podiatric Medical Association, visit apma.org/flipfloptips.

The Doctors is an Emmy-winning daytime TV show with pediatrician Jim Sears, OB-GYN Lisa Masterson, ER physician Travis Stork, and plastic surgeon Andrew Ordon. Check www.thedoctorstv.com for local listings.