With summer in full swing, it’s important to remember to protect your skin from the sun. But did you know that the majority of sunscreens on the market actually do more damage to your skin than good? That’s because of all the nasty toxic chemicals!
You can also protect your skin from the sun through your diet! Yes, to a certain extent, you CAN eat your sunscreen. Not literally, mind you.
In this post, we’ll explore some of the best foods to eat to keep your skin healthy and protected from the sun. And look at some all-natural sunscreens you can use that are actually not harmful to your skin.
So, whether you’re spending a day at the beach or just running errands, make sure to “eat your sunscreen,” by including these nutrients in your diet for healthy skin!
What is a Sunburn?
If you’ve ever gotten a sunburn, you know how painful it can be! I’m sure we’ve all used Aloe Vera to soothe the red looking, hot to touch skin after some sun exposure. But do you know what a sunburn actually is?
According to skincancer.org, a sunburn is “an inflammatory reaction to ultraviolet (UV) radiation damage to the skin’s outermost layers.”
How does a sunburn happen?
A sunburn is a type of burn that is caused by exposure to the sun typically. Sunburns occur when the skin is exposed to too much ultraviolet (UV) radiation, either from the sun or from artificial sources like tanning beds. UV radiation can damage the DNA in the cells of the skin, leading to inflammation and a sunburn. Inflammation can cause redness, pain, and peeling of the skin.
There are two types of UV radiation:
- UVA. Ultraviolet A waves are between 320 and 400 nm and are 99% of the radiation that reaches the earth’s surface.
- UVB. Ultraviolet B waves are between 290 and 320 nm and are less than 1% of the radiation that reaches the earth’s surface.
UVA causes visible redness, while UVB is what causes an actual sunburn and damage to DNA. this can lead to premature skin aging. Damaged DNA can lead to inflammation and a sunburn. And eventually skin cancer if you’re not careful.
How Can I Protect my Skin From the Sun Without Sunscreen?
The primary reason behind applying sunscreen is allowing the protective action to keep away the damaging effects of the sun on your skin.
There are several ways to protect your skin from the sun without sunscreen.
- Wearing a hat or visor can help to block the sun’s rays from hitting your head and face
- Wearing sunglasses can also help to protect your eyes
- Seeking shade whenever possible is another way to reduce your exposure to the sun
- Additionally, wearing dark-colored clothing can help deflect the sun’s rays
- And finally, using a sun umbrella can provide shade
Can you Eat your Sunscreen?
Yes, you can eat your sunscreen and it’s not the cosmetic cream that you apply on your face, neck, and hands before stepping out in the sun. The primary reason behind applying sunscreen is allowing the protective action to keep away the damaging effects of the sun.
Add antioxidants to your daily diet and the effect becomes deeper at the cellular level.
Astaxanthin is a carotenoid, which is a type of antioxidant. It is the pigment that gives salmon and other seafood their pinkish color. Astaxanthin has been shown to protect cells from damage caused by the sun’s UV radiation. It takes care of those free radicals roaming around that cause damage to cells and inflammation (which is what a sunburn is!)
Astaxanthin is found in most seafoods, to include salmon, lobster, and shrimp!
Resveratrol can prevent or delay some types of cell damage caused by the process called oxidation. Oxidation is a chemical reaction in which an electron is stripped from an atom, turning it into what’s known as a free radical.
Resveratrol can be found in grapes, dark berries, raw cocoa, and red wine.
Don’t forget about the citrus fruits that can naturally protect the skin from damages caused by then sun!
Citrus foods like orange, lemon, and grapefruit can naturally protect the skin from damages caused by the sun. These fruits contain vitamin C which helps protect your skin cells from free-radical damage caused during a burn. Plus, they’re high in limonene, which has been shown to lower risk of skin cancer by 34 percent!
Tomatoes contain lycopene, which has been shown to cause less burning and irritation from the sun.
Don’t skip those other veggies
Did you know that one of the reasons those green leafy vegetables is so healthy for you is that they are great for the skin?!
The beta-carotene, found in vegetables, has been shown to help renew and repair the skin from damage. The phytochemical, chlorophyll, helps to provide protection against aging free radicals in the body!
Sunscreens to Avoid
While sunscreens are meant to protect your skin from unwanted sun damage, it’s good to know that all of them are not created equally and won’t have the desired effect on your skin. When shopping for sunscreens, you should watch out for some ingredients that can bring more damage than good and avoid them by all means.
- Oxybenzone is a type of synthetic estrogen and can lead to disruption of the natural hormone cycle in the body
- Avobenzone may lead you to high levels of skin irritation, hormonal disruption in the body, and can lead to skin cancer.
- Retinyl Palmitate which is not just a form of Vitamin A but also serves as a strong antioxidant. But when exposed to the sun, it can become cancerous and lead to form free radicals. This is what you would least expect from your sunscreen.
What foods help repair skin damage?
If you want to keep your skin at its healthiest state and repair damage, then it’s best to include the below foods in your diet:
- Salmon is very high in anti-inflammatory omega-3 fatty acids. It is recommended to eat cold water fatty fish like salmon 3 to 4 times per week for healthy skin.
- Scallops contain Omega-6, which are also important for healthy skin because they help promote cell growth and regeneration, but these fatty acids must be obtained from food sources since your body can’t produce them. Scallops are a great source of omega-6s and they’re also a good source of vitamin B12, which promotes skin cell growth.
- Egg Yolks are meant to be eaten! If you eat egg yolks instead of throwing them away, you’ll get more than just healthy skin. You’ll get a healthy heart, brain and eyes. Egg yolks contain retinol which is an animal form of vitamin A that’s needed for cell growth in your skin.
- Cabbage might not be sexy, but cabbage has a lot going for it when it comes to food sources with antioxidant power. It’s loaded with vitamin C which is known to be protective against skin cancer, and it also contains sulfur compounds that can help your body detoxify.
- Garlic is full of allicin which helps protect the elasticity of blood vessels in your body, including those in the skin, while reducing inflammation.
Does taking zinc help prevent sunburn?
By itself, zinc has properties that offer protection from the sun. The issue comes when zinc oxide, the main ingredient in many sunscreens, combines with other chemicals. Protection is limited to two hours and is limited.
According to Richard Blackburn:
“On its own, zinc oxide is an effective and harmless UV blocker. Our research raises concerns about how the individual formulation ingredients react with each other during use and this isn’t currently tested by the industry.”
So there you have it! That is how you can eat your sunscreen and have it too!
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