Eat your Sunscreen!

Ok, for those skimmers out there, please read this before you start ingesting your Coppertone. 🙂

So it’s summer, my favorite time of the year where you can bask in the sun’s rays, play in the surf, munch on fresh picked fruit and as I write this I hear children giggling as an ice cream truck passes by, playing a cheerful tune…What could be better?  Well I guess there are a couple of downsides too, like mosquito bites and sunburns.

How about we see if we can knock one of those downsides off the list, but in a creative way that doesn’t involve massive amounts of SPF.  Did you know that some of the foods you eat will actually aid in protecting you from harmful UV rays?   It’s true, knowing how to arm yourself and your family with some good sun protection maybe easier than you think.  Now I’m not advocating that you remove the sunscreen from your beach bag, but perhaps if you play your cards right, you may not need as much. (Most sunscreens are laden with chemicals, which we absorb, and we could all use less chemicals in our bodies).  Let’s dive in…

You wake up with seagulls singing and the salt water smell in the air.  You head to your kitchen and brew a nice cup of tea while preparing a pink grapefruit with a drizzle of fresh honey.  What did you just do for your skin?

Well, tea contains antioxidants known as polyphenols, and by having 2 cups of black or green tea a day you have reduced your risk of developing squamous cell cancer by 30%.  Pink grapefruit contains lycopene (a very powerful antioxidant) which helps shield your skin against ultraviolet damage.  Nice job!

You pack up your beach bag and bring a cooler with drinks and snacks.  You’ve probably applied some sunscreen too (you will want to use those that have a low or no chemical profile…stay tuned to HHK to find out which ones these are).  While relaxing on the beach under your multi-color umbrella listening to wave crash after wave crash (ok, realistically you are probably wrestling sandy kids out of the ocean, but a girl can dream, right?), you get hungry and grab your plate of veggies and hummus dip with a big bottle of water.  Skin savior?

YES!  The beta-carotene in carrots has been linked to the reduction of sunburns.  Broccoli sprouts are powerful in cancer protection.  Hummus contains Omega 3 fatty acids which reduce inflammation and can also reduce the risk of melanoma.  And of course it is important to stay hydrated with the water.  You’re on a roll.

Back at the beach house, you take a nice outside shower. (Are these not the absolute best?!)  You wash off the sandy grime and to see how pink you really are.  Not too shabby!  What should we have for dinner you ask?  Well an assortment of these awesome sun shield foods will set you up nicely for tomorrow.

  • Spinach – (or one of its green leafy cousins – Kale, Chard, Collard Greens, etc.) This amazing leafy green is high in carotenoids as well as the antioxidents lutein and quercetin which help protect the skin in general from sun damage, diseases, rashes, etc.
  • Tomatoes – Our friend Lycopene is back in effect here!  A study performed in 2001, looked at volunteers who ate 40g of tomato paste in addition to two teaspoons of olive oil (for absorption) over a ten-week period.  The results – this group was 40% less likely to experience sunburn when exposed to harmful UV rays.
  • Fish – (How appropriate for the beach.)  Those fish high in Omega 3 fatty acids are beneficial to reduce the risk of sunburn and protect from skin cancers.  For example, trout, salmon or sardines are rich sources of Omega 3.

Dessert?  Sure! Make a bowl of fresh fruit including berries such as blueberries, high in anthocyanins which guard cells from high-light damage. Also, regular consumption of dark chocolate rich in flavanols (go for the 55% cacao or better) can be effective at protecting skin from the harmful result of UV.  However, check your labels…conventional chocolate (i.e. milk chocolate) does not have this effect.

Now it’s time to retire the flipflops & pat your nicely tanned skin on the back, for a day well done.

What’s in your beach bag?


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