While this summer isn’t a typical one, most of us are probably still able to enjoy the long evenings and sunny days. There are many ways that we can enjoy the sun responsibly, and that includes what we eat and how we interact with the sun. There is a wide array of foods that actually work with your body to offer sun protection. Most of them are readily available in the summertime. Nature is smart like that.
Our skin is the first line of defense from the outside world. It’s exposed to sunlight, hot and cold temperatures, air pollution, bacteria, and potential chemical irritants. Nourishing yourself properly, getting enough sleep, managing stress, and getting exercise go a long way toward keeping your skin healthy. Chronic stress, smoking, a high glycemic diet, sleep deprivation, ultraviolet (UV) rays, and environmental toxins all-cause cellular damage, which in turn damage mitochondria and reduce collagen and compromises skin. I love laugh lines (they show a good life!) but I am also really interested in using nutrition to keep skin happy and healthy.
Health Benefits Of The Sun
The sun is our primary source of Vitamin D, which is made in our skin after sun exposure. Vitamin D is crucial for immunity, mental health, hormone production, bone health, and sleep. While we can receive Vitamin D from foods as well, the sun is one of the simplest ways to get it.
Safe Sun Exposure Tips
The right amount is beneficial to our health – but too much of it, especially without practicing safe sun exposure, can be detrimental. Some of the things you can do to enjoy the sun safely include:
- Enjoy the sun during non-peak hours, such as the early or late in the afternoon/early evening. Keep in mind that Vitamin D is absorbed best from noon to 2 pm – so if you’d like to get your optimal dose of Vitamin D, a short 5 to 10 minutes in the sun during this time can help.
- Cover up with appropriate clothing (hats, long sleeves, and pants, sunglasses, etc.)
- Find a non-toxic sunscreen (I like Sun Bum) and use it!
- Seems logical and straightforward, but gradual, moderate, and safe sun exposure has the most benefits for vitamin D levels. Sunburn is never good!
- Stay hydrated throughout the day with hydrating foods and beverages.
Best Foods For Sun Protection
Diet plays a vital role in sun protection by providing us with nutrients that ward off damage and help our skin become resilient. Include these top foods for sun protection in your diet to receive a healthy dose of nutrients that can help your skin against sun damage.
Here’s another reason to make Caprese salad this summer. Thanks to their lycopene, tomatoes have been shown to shield against UV light-induced erythema, or skin reddening, a study in The Journal of Nutrition found. Research showed that eating tomato paste could help protect the skin from UV damage and UV-induced reddening.
Another rich source of sun-shielding lycopene is your go-to poolside snack: watermelon. The juicy fruit contains ample amounts of lycopene and vitamin C, which has been linked to protecting against UVA and UVB damage.
Studies have shown that antioxidants like phenols and catechins can protect the skin from sunburn and skin cancer. Cocoa is an excellent source of these antioxidants. It is said that cocoa contains four times as much phenols and catechins as tea. The ideal dose is 1 ounce of dark (at least 80%) chocolate a day.
Green tea is rich in polyphenols, which can fight against free radicals responsible for 80 percent of skin aging. Researchers also say drinking two or more cups of green tea a day reduces the risk of developing squamous cell skin cancer by 30 percent.
The magical avocado is packed with vitamin E, which is essential for preventing photodamage