Have you heard of the recent research that shows that the powerful sunscreens we’ve all grown up slathering on our faces and bodies might actually be contributing to our risk of skin cancer more than the actual sun?
“A study in the April 2004 Journal of Chromatography found that there was significant penetration into the skin of all sunscreen agents they studied. And slathering a carcinogenic agent onto your skin may in fact be worse for your health than ingesting it, as it goes straight into your blood stream. ” Evidence shows that regular sun exposure increases our vitamin D levels and actually helps to protect us from skin cancer. 20 minutes a day is recommended. Read more here.
What if you could leave the toxic sunscreen at home this summer and not have to worry about getting a painful sunburn after a day of fun in the sun? What if you could protect your skin from the sun with food and not worry about burning this summer?
There are four ways you can USE FOOD AS NATURAL SUNSCREEN!
- Eat less omega-6 fatty acids and more omega-3 fatty acids. Omega-6 fats are PRO-INFLAMMATORY, meaning that they promote inflammation in the body, while omega-3 fats and ANTI-INFLAMMATORY. In essence, sunburn is inflammation. Eating more of the omega-3 rich foods will protect against inflammation, therefore protecting and preventing a sunburn. Some examples of omega-6 fats are refined vegetable oils like canola oil, soybean oil, grape seed oil, cottonseed oil, corn oil and most nut/seed oils like peanut oil. FYI- you can be sure that all fast foods joints, most restaurants and virtually all processed foods contain the pro-inflammatory omega-6 oils. Avoid those dietary fats and eat more omega-3 containing foods like cold water fish and seafood, grass fed beef, chia seeds, flaxseeds and walnuts. Cooking with grass-fed butter, coconut oil, macadamia nut oil and olive oil are great options too!
- Increase the antioxidant foods in your diet. To combat the free radical damage that can happen from sun exposure, antioxidants in plant-based foods mop up any damage that may occur, therefore protecting you against cellular damage and disease. Consuming antioxidant rich foods will in essence protect you from the sun. Some examples of antioxidants and the foods they are found in are as follows: vitamin C in citrus, potatoes, leafy greens, red bell pepper and most plant foods, B vitamins in most fruits and veggies, vitamin E in egg yolks, avocado, sunflower seeds and olive oil, Carotenoids like lycopene (found in tomatoes), beta-carotene (found in sweet potatoes, carrots and leafy greens) and astaxanthin (found in salmon, shrimp and marine algae). Find more info on astaxanthin below. Flavanoids and polyphenols offer great protection too and are found in foods like coffee, tea, cacao, red wine, grape seeds, citrus peel and all berries. In other words, all the yummy foods.
- Limit alcohol consumption. While hard for many to practice during the summer months, limiting your alcohol consumption can greatly reduce inflammation in the body, as alcohol considerably contributes to the body’s inflammatory response. Heavy drinking is associated with increased risk of sunburn. This could be because it causes you to ignore the signs of overexposure or because it actually inhibits the absorption and utilization of the above mentioned phytonutrients that protect your skin. Easy on the drinking in general, but especially wile out in the sun! If you must indulge- perhaps drink a sangria made with antioxidant-rich red wine and fruit juice or snack on berries all day. (Wink.)
- Increase gelatin consumption in your diet. Gelatin is a mix of amino acids from the connective tissues in animals, and is also known as collagen. Collagen is the most abundant protein source in the body. Consuming grass fed gelatin contributes to the production of your own collagen and can prevent sun-induced wrinkles. Dietary sources include organic bone broth from beef/chicken/pork bones (bones are boiled down for up to 24 hours to leach out the healing minerals and collagen), organic chicken skin, animal gristle and bone marrow. Perhaps a much more convenient and favorite among natural health foodies is powdered collagen which can be added to liquids to make JELLO, added to oatmeal, soups, smoothies or just mixed in water. I wrote another post on the many healing benefits that grass fed gelatin has to offer with recipes for inspiration too, it can be found here.
While it is always best to get your nutrition from whole foods versus supplement form, sometimes supplements can be used as a little insurance policy. Astaxanthin is one powerful antioxidant supplement that I personally like to take during the summer months for added antioxidant protection. Regular consumption of astaxanthin can actually prevent wrinkles, ages spots, freckles and even reverse the signs of aging! Find it here on amazon! This is what Dr. Mercola had to say about Astaxanthin:
“Astaxanthin has recently jumped to the front of the line in terms of its status as a “supernutrient,” becoming the focus of a large and growing number of peer-reviewed scientific studies. It’s produced from marine algae in response to exposure to UV light. This is the way the algae protects itself, so it makes perfect sense that this deeply pigmented substance would have the capacity to “shield” you when it is taken in large enough quantities for a long enough time to saturate your body’s tissues. Typically this is several weeks.”
“Cyanotech Corporation funded a study through an independent consumer research laboratory to measure the skin’s resistance to both UVA and UVB light, before and after astaxanthin supplementation. After taking 4mg per day for two weeks, subjects showed a significant increase in the amount of time necessary for UV radiation to redden their skin.”
Improve your sunburn resistance naturally with these suggestions and avoid the toxic overload of chemicals in most sunscreens that may actually be contributing to skin cancer! Eat your protection this summer and use caution of course when it comes to overexposing your self out there.
Of course even with the best of diet, sunburns are very possible, so be sure to give this way of eating at least 8-10 weeks for protection to kick in, get a base tan before any long exposure and be sure to keep covered when possible with shade or protective clothing. Happy Summer everyone!
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