I always recommend my clients get some sunscreen-free time in the sun each day. It’s not a recommendation you may hear from a lot of health professionals, especially in this very sun-protective age. I am not asking my clients to sit poolside under the burning sun for eight hours each day, but I do recommend they get 20-30 minutes of sun time during the hours of 9 AM-2 PM.
This is not because I want my clients to have a golden glow, it’s because I want to protect them from the vitamin deficiency that is rarely diagnosed but yet affects more than half of our population. It’s a vitamin deficiency that is linked to cancer, high blood pressure, heart disease, diabetes, depression, fibromyalgia, chronic muscle pain, bone loss and autoimmune disorders like multiple sclerosis. I’m talking about vitamin D and there is only one true source of this vitamin and that’s the sun.
Yes, you should protect your skin past 30 minutes in the sun, but sunscreen with even just an SPF of 8 can decrease Vitamin D synthetic capacity by 95%. If you want to get your Vitamin D dosage for the day, try getting in some time out in the sun without sunscreen and then load up after 30 minutes.
Now if you are sitting there with super pale skin and rolling your eyes at this advice, I have some good news for you. I know that certain skin types burn more easily than others. There are of course some people who can burn within 10 minutes in the sun. If this is a concern of yours, there are some foods you can eat to boost the vitality and resilience of your skin.
A team of German researchers did a study and found out that certain antioxidant foods can play a major role in how your skin reacts to direct sunlight. In their study, they gave half the participants antioxidant-rich olive oil and tomatoes. The other half of the participants ate the same diet but without the olive oil and tomatoes. By the end of the 10 week study, those who consumed the olive oil (2 tsp daily) and tomatoes (1/4 cup daily) were experiencing 35% less reddening than the other group of participants. For this period of time and the amount consumed, this is a massive significance.
How It Works:
Sunlight is composed of UVAs and UVBs. You probably recognize these terms from sunscreen bottles, sunglasses tags and other items that offer protection from the sun. When your skin gets hit with heavy sun, these UVAs and UVBs become SBCs, which are sunburnt cells. Eating these foods won’t replace sunscreen and will not protect your skin from the sun, but it will boost elements in your skin so that these UVAs and UVBs are less likely to transform your skin cells into SBCs.
What to Eat:
The following foods contain elements that will protect your skin from UV radiation.
Dark Chocolate: contains four times more antioxidants than tea which will protect your skin from sunburn and skin cancer. But this is not an excuse to eat any chocolate. I recommend 70% cocoa or more of dark chocolate and milk chocolate is not okay as the aded milk interferes with the absorption of the antioxidants.
Chlorella & Spirulina: these micro-algae contain a carotenoid called Astaxanthin which is incredibly powerful- 550 times more powerful than Vitamin E! It has been shown to be very protective of the skin and eyes against Ultraviolet radiation.
Watermelon: Watermelon contains a huge dosage of lycopene (tomatoes, papaya + red bell peppers do too!). Lycopene protects the skin against sunburn and skin cancer, it’s at least twice as effective as an antioxidant as beta carotene to block UV light.
Broccoli: is rich in an antioxidant called sulphorphane which helps protect the body cells against UV radiation. Broccoli also has anti-cancerious effects.
Kale, Spinach & Swiss Chard: One study showed that these green leafy vegetables may reduce the risk of squamous cell skin cancer by 50 percent!
Oranges: Vitamin C-packed foods prevent premature aging and skin cancer by fighting off free radicals. Load up on any citrus fruits, acerola cherry, rose hip, berries, guava, kiwi and papayas for major doses of Vitamin C, too.
Chia Seeds: Omega 3 fatty acids are a crucial part of the diet anyway, but they can also reduce inflammation, protect your skin from sunburn and melanoma. Just one one-ounce serving of chia seeds will give you 5 grams of Omega 3’s, or you can also load up on other Omega 3-rich sources such as flaxseed, wild caught salmon, seaweed, hemp seed and green leafy veggies.
Cauliflower: Cauliflower is a great source of histidine which stimualtes healthy production of urocanic acid, a natural photoprotectant. We naturally produce this amino acid, but supplies often run short. You can also get it from brown rice, anchovies, tofu, beans, eggs, corn, mushrooms, potatoes, bamboo shoots, bananas and cantaloupe.
Pomegranates: This sweet fruit contains powerful polyphenol compounds which strengthen the skin’s upper layers and helps protect and resist harmful UV rays.
Apricots: Apricots, along with papaya, mango, carrots, sweet potatoes and beets, contain a high dosage of the antioxidant carotenoids which reduce the negative effects of UVB radiation. The carotenes are unoxygenated carotenoid which provide pigment to fruits and vegetables, which in turn, serves as the sunscreen to these fruits and vegetables.
Water: Keeping your skin hydrated protects your skin from environmental factors and can prevent dehydration after sun exposure.
Your skin is so important. It’s the largest organ in your body! I have some more information about sun protection and what sunscreens I recommend to share with you next week. Tune back in then. In the meantime, add the above foods to your diet. Delicious and helpful!