Skin is the largest organ in the body and has many important functions such as protection against pathogens, providing insulation, temperature regulation, transmitting sensation and production of vitamin D.
Like any other part of your body, your skin can be healthy or unhealthy, nourished or malnourished. The skin is particularly susceptible to premature aging with excess sun exposure, poor nutrition, chronic dehydration, lack of sleep, stress, excess alcohol and smoking.
How does the sun damage the skin?
UV light damages skin cells by releasing free radicals; if these nasty free radicals harm your DNA it may cause the skin cells to become seriously damaged. However, having a large amount of antioxidants in your skin and body can help neutralise these free radicals thus preventing skin damage.
A healthy diet can help protect the Skin from sun damage.
Consuming a healthy diet full of natural sun blocking antioxidants is a good idea to ensure your body has the best defence against skin damage. Carotenoids are the compounds that give foods their vibrant colour from the green leafy vegetables to the red beets, to the yellow and orange coloured fruits and vegetables. These carotenoids act as natural sunscreens to the plants and offer us the same benefit. Not only can these nutrients help to offer us a natural level of sunscreen but they also have the antioxidant free radical scavenging activity that helps protect the cells from oxidative damage.
Here are the foods you should eat more of…
Beta-carotene – Sweet potatoes, spinach, kale, collard greens and most yellow/orange veggies
Lycopene – Tomatoes, watermelon, papaya, pink guava, pink grapefruit, red cabbage
Lutein – Spinach, kale, peas, Brussels sprouts, courgette, broccoli
Flavonoids – Citrus, especially citrus peel
Proanthocyanadins – Cacao, grape seeds
Cruciferous veggies – Broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, Brussels sprouts, kale
Vitamin C – Citrus, strawberries, kiwi, peppers (capsicum). Vitamin C is great for helping kill off free radicals that your body produces in response to the cellular damaged caused by exposure to sunlight.
Astaxanthin – Microalgae (Haematococcus pluvialis), wild salmon, krill and shellfish.
Other foods that may offer protection against sun
damage are olive oil, omega 3 fatty acids, nuts and seeds due to their vitamin E content.
That yellow sparkly ball of fire in the sky does have some great benefits such as stimulating vitamin D production and enhancing our mood but don’t get carried away in a sun madness moment. Even if you do eat lots of healthy antioxidant food you still need to cover up your skin between 10am and 3pm. Give your head, face and eyes extra protection by wearing a brimmed hat and sunglasses. If you do decide to use a Sunscreen lotion or sun block then make sure it’s a natural one and not a product full of chemicals!
Next Month: How to help protect your skin Naturally from the Sun (Part 2) – Are Sunscreens Safe?
Health & Peace to you all – Jules
For more information about this article, Naturopathic advice or Allergy Testing contact Jules Button (BSc).
or call 01394 386777
or pop into Rainbow Apothecary 6E Church Street Woodbridge IP12 1DH