Oh, the Pain!
Some of my earliest memories revolve around the beach, Panama City Beach in Florida! I loved that place as a young child although I knew that a trip to the beach would likely result in an excruciating sunburn. My mother would slather me with sunscreen to no avail. Within the week that we were there, a searing burn was almost inevitable. Sunscreens were not as good as they are now and now we know that we must use them profusely and reapply often. Then, we would put it on and stay out until mid-day and go inside until mid-afternoon when the sun’s rays were not as intense. Without fail, that morning coat would fail us at some point. I believe that we might have stayed out just a few minutes too long. That’s all it took in the glaring summer sun on those stark white beaches. Inevitably, I would get cooked. Severe sunburns before the age of 18 are associated with an increased risk of the deadly melanoma skin cancer. (1) We need to do everything in our power to protect ourselves and those that we love when we are soaking up the sunny days of summer.
We all know to apply sunscreen frequently but nutrition is an often overlooked weapon in the skin care arsenal. The right nutrients can make a huge difference in your skin’s ability to fend off sunburn. Poor nutrition ages us in many ways and lowered sun protection is just one.
Watermelon is high in lycopene which actually absorbs UVA and UVB radiation. It’s necessary to eat watermelon every day for a few weeks to make the skin photoprotective. Even then, still use sunscreen, hats and protective clothing.
Green tea is truly a powerful gift from nature. Some studies show that it has the ability to protect us from tumors caused by too much sun. It contains a powerful flavanol called EGCG that is believed to reduce skin damage caused by UVA light. As it reduces this destruction of the skin , it protects the all-important collagen that prevents sagging and wrinkling of the skin. Although I have never cared for the taste of this stuff, I chug it down like medicine.
Carrots and Greens
Both carrots and leafy greens are rich in beta carotene which can provide sun protection after eating them regularly for 10 weeks. (2) Along with beta carotene, lutein and zeaxanthin are also skin miracle workers. They are known to protect us against sun damage and even skin cancer. Mom was right when she said “Eat your spinach. It’s good for you!”
This pale, bland food is a nutritional powerhouse! Most of the time the colorful pigments in foods are a sure signal to us that they are nutritionally dense. In this case however this white vegetable packs the potent amino acid histidine which causes the body to produce urocanic acid which absorbs UV radiation. Eat up!
In order to keep the body’s biological clock in good working order, eat at regular mealtimes. Deviations in the times that we eat can disrupt chemical cycles that help to protect our skin. While some fruits and vegetables do actually create chemicals that absorb the harmful rays, there are others that help to prevent wrinkles and fight inflammation in the skin.
Blueberries are chock full of antioxidants that fight free radicals that can damage skin. The vitamin C in blueberries helps to build and protect your collagen which is the framework for your skin. Healthy collagen means smooth skin. Blueberries are also good for memory and low in calories so find ways to incorporate these sweet treats into your everyday menus.
Nuts and Seeds
I use a product called Trilogy seeds that contain hemp, chia and flax seeds. They are full of omega-3 essential fatty acids that we have to get from our diet. They strengthen our skin’s structure and fight inflammation. By fighting inflammation they naturally decrease the damage done by the sun. Fish and eggs are also good sources of these miracle-working fats in our diet. Walnuts are a tasty source of omega-3’s and nothing is much better than a handful of walnuts in our morning oats. Start your day off right with these superfoods. I add seeds and nuts to my oats every morning.
We always think of skincare as something that we do on the outside. Many of the products that we use for that are insanely expensive. Start on the inside and build a cheap arsenal to fight the signs of aging and damage from the sun. When others your age are mourning their lost youth, you’ll be glad you did.