Sun Protection from the Inside Out
Summertime, sun-lovers unite. You can’t get enough outdoor time these days. While being mindful of slathering on sunscreen and wearing protective SPF clothing, did you know you can also add a layer of sun protection from the inside out? We have your complete list of sun-protective foods, including a delicious sunscreen smoothie recipe! Yes, the food you eat impacts your skin’s resilience to the sun.
Oh glorious sun
Humans, plants and animals need the sun’s heat and light for survival. The sun is our primary source of vitamin D, made in our skin after sun exposure, which is essential for immunity, mental health, sleep, hormone production and more. The sun emits three wavelengths of ultraviolet (UV) light, UVA, UVB, and UVC. While UVC doesn’t reach the Earth’s surface, UVA and UVB rays penetrate your skin. While sunlight is essential we want to be mindful of the over-exposure to UVA and UVB rays.
The dreaded sunburn
A sunburn is an inflammatory reaction to UV radiation damage to the outer layers of your skin. Melanin is a pigment in your skin that gives it the colour, and it protects your skin from the sun by darkening it, which is a sign of cellular damage. The less melanin you have, the more likely unprotected sun exposure causes your skin to burn.
Sun protection from the inside out
Because prolonged sun exposure causes an inflammatory skin reaction (red, swollen, painful), the anti-inflammatory effects of antioxidants protect against sunburn. Antioxidants like:
- Vitamins C and E – Found in oranges, tomatoes, bell peppers, strawberries, broccoli, spinach, swiss chard, beet greens, and kiwi. Protects cells against free radical damage.
- Carotenoids (also known as Lycopene and Beta Carotene) – Gives the pigment to orange and red fruits such as carrots, tomatoes, watermelons, cantaloupes, pumpkin, corn, squashes and mangos. Strengthens the skin.
- Omega-3s – Salmon, sardines, flaxseeds, walnuts, and hemp hearts. Helps prevent severe sunburns and may help prevent the development of skin cancer.
- Eating the rainbow is true for all aspects of good health, especially skin protection. Foods to enjoy include:
- Tomatoes – An excellent source of lycopene. Fresh is good, and surprisingly nutrients are better absorbed when tomatoes are processed, especially with olive oil. Try tomato paste, soup, or gazpacho (cold soup). It is delicious and comforting on a hot day.
- Pink grapefruit and watermelon – Good sources of carotenoids. Nothing beats a slice of cold watermelon on a scorching hot day or blending with ice and coconut water for a refreshing treat.
- Sweet potatoes and spinach – Rich in beta carotene. Spinach is also loaded with lutein, another skin-protective carotenoid.
- Carrots, mangoes, apricots, cantaloupe and kale – Carotenoid-rich foods. Try a summer fruit salad with all orange fruits and a glass of carrot juice. Now that’s sun protection!
- Oranges, grapefruit, kiwi, and broccoli – Loaded with vitamin C. Enjoy a glass of fresh-squeezed orange and grapefruit juice or a cold broccoli salad topped with sunflower seeds, dried cranberries and a creamy dressing.
Start your day with a sun-loving, skin-protecting smoothie:
2 cups of water or coconut water
1 cup of blueberries
1 heaping tablespoon of hemp hearts
1 small carrot, peeled
1 handful of spinach
Blend thoroughly and enjoy!
Get out and enjoy the sunshine this summer. Stay hydrated, cool, and protect your skin from the inside out.