Summer Foods That Help Prevent Sun Damage

Summer vacation is winding down, and our thoughts turn to back packs instead of beach balls.
Despite the waning days of warm outdoor play and wake-boarding, we still need to think about sun protection.
In addition to slathering on sunscreen ( I prefer mineral based blocks with zinc and titanium) you might find extra ways ways to protect your skin in the fridge, pantry or medicine cabinet. Research shows that certain foods and supplements can enhance your skin’s natural protection ability and minimize sun damage.
Of course, sunburn is an inflammatory condition caused by over-exposure to the ultaviolet rays in sunlight. Sunburn is never good! 
To decrease the risk of burning, remember sun safety basics using hats, sunglasses, special sun clothing and sunscreen. Also, stay away from most processed foods, simple carbs like sugar and vegetable oils that turn on the internal inflammatory response. 
Here are some tips to make healthy eating part of your safe sun program:
1. Vitamin C- Enjoy citrus fruits of all kinds; strawberries, kiwis, papaya, guava, black currants, chili peppers, bell peppers, brussel sprouts and greens like kale and spinach.

2. Vitamin E- Almonds are my go to snack food and are rich in Vitamin E. Mustard greens, turnip greens, chard, spinach and sunflower seeds also pack a lot of E.

3. Lycopene- Tomatoes and especially cooked tomato paste and sauce are high in lycopene.  In a German study, participants who ate a quarter cup of tomato paste with olive oil every day for 10 weeks experienced 35 percent LESS skin reddening when exposed to UV radiation than those who did not eat the tomato paste.

Watermelon has 40 % more than tomatoes. I love the watermelon, basil and feta salad at Doolittles.

4. Omega3 essential fatty acids- Think grilled salmon for dinner and put ground flax seed of flaxseed oil in your morning smoothie.

5. Vitamin D- Salmon, sardines, caviar and tuna are rich sources of Vitamin D. So are milk, eggs and mushrooms. Sunlight promotes vitamin D synthesis from cholesterol in the skin, so some limited sun exposure is healthy. Vitamin D has numerous positive effects, including stabilization of the pigment melanin that protects our skin.

6. Antioxidants- Eat foods like grapes and pop them in the freezer for a cold treat. Pomegranates are full of antioxidants as well. Green tea has ECGC, which research showed stopped genetic damage in human skin cells exposed to UV light. Green tea also has tannic acid and can be soothing to sunburned skin. Consider green tea and pomegranate seeds for a summer refresher.

7. Beta Carotene- Eat carrots for your eyes and skin. Beta-carotene also helps protect the skin against the free radical damage caused from sun exposure, especially when combined with vitamin E.

8. Astaxanthin- The richest natural food sources of astaxanthin are red or pink fish, seafoods and algae sourced from the sea. Wild sockeye salmon has the highest concentration.

If you avoid foods in certain groups, supplements are available to make sure that you have adequate levels.

Be safe with the sun. Enjoying these healthy foods will help.


Dr Sue

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