Jun 25 2012
Healthy Skin in Summer
Summer is coming and, I hope, we will be able to enjoy the sun, water and warm nights. Enjoy sun bathing and don’t be afraid to get tanned but remember that protection from the sun is essential.
What we should worry about is the ultraviolet radiation. Two types of ultraviolet radiation, UVA and UVB, damage the skin and increase the risk of skin cancer. UVB is the chief culprit behind sunburn, while UVA rays, which penetrate the skin more deeply, are associated with wrinkling, leathering, sagging, and other effects of skin aging. They also exacerbate the carcinogenic effects of UVB rays, and increasingly are being seen as a cause of skin cancer on their own.
A few simple changes in your diet can help to protect your skin from sunburn, aging and even cancer.
Of course, you should still use sunscreen, and try to avoid direct sunlight during the hottest part of the day. This is what you should eat more of, especially in summer.
Carrots are full of beta-carotene, which protects the skin by dispersing UV radiation and stops its penetration deeper into the skin. Scientists from the German University of Witten-Herdecke administered 25 mg of beta-carotene daily to volunteers with pale skin, 12 weeks before sun bathing. They found that beta-carotene provides a natural level of protection, equivalent to the sun protection factor of 2 to 4. A half large carrot a day gives you about 25 mg beta-carotene. Beta-carotene may also be found in apricots, spinach, tomatoes, watermelon…
Try to do your best by getting natural beta-carotene and if that’s not possible you can always have pills that contain beta-carotene and its carotenoids.
Research of University of Edinburgh has shown that laboratory skin cells can be protected from the harmful effects of UVB radiation, by the help of selenium (a mineral and it’s a great antioxidant). Brazil nuts are the greatest known dietary source of selenium and a daily consumption (in quantities of about 3-6 pieces of Brazil nuts), will give you all the daily intake of selenium you need.
They are rich in copper and vitamin B6. Both of these nutrients help to produce melanin – the pigment that protects our skin from the sun. Melanin makes skin tan. Eat oatmeal, boiled wheat or whole grain food every day. Other sources of copper are oysters, legumes and dried fruits.
It won’t protect you from sunburn but drinking plenty of fluid during hot days is important to stay hydrated. Dehydration can affect the level of skin moisture, so it loses its elasticity and ages faster.
Australian study from 2001 showed that olive oil (in combination with fruit, vegetables and legumes) provides significant protection against skin aging and wrinkling. Eat more olive oil, and either use it in salad dressings or put it on bread instead of butter. Tastes great!
Research has also shown that people who eat lots of prunes have fewer wrinkles. Prunes are a concentrated source of antioxidants – substances that dispose of free radicals causing sunburn and skin cancer.
Apples are an important source of another group of antioxidants called flavonoids. A couple of apples a day will help to increase protection against damage caused by UV-induced free radicals. Flavonoids can also be found in tea, berries, red wine, dark chocolate, cereals and green beans.
Sweet potatoes (yams)
Replacing conventional potatoes by this sweeter version can increase your intake of vitamins E and C. These vitamins protect fat and water soluble molecules of skin cells from the attack of free radicals. Preliminary studies on 10 volunteers suggest that people who were given high doses of these nutrients, increased their resistance to sunburn by 17%, compared to those who weren’t given these nutrients.
If you eat fish, start eating the fatty types. (Not during pregnancy!) Preliminary research results suggest that fish oil can protect skin against UVA and UVB radiation, by reducing the levels of substances that cause inflammation. It is yet to determine whether consumption of fatty fish may stop the initial changes in the tissue leading to skin cancer caused by sunlight. In any case, however, consumption of 1 to 2 servings of fatty fish a week such as salmon, mackerel or sardines, appears to be a better alternative to grilled pork or raw steak.
The sun can also damage your eyes. Protect them by eating several doses of brussels sprouts or spinach a week, because these vegetables are rich in lutein. Just like beta-carotene protects the skin, lutein (another member of the family of carotenoids) helps to protect the retina from harmful UV rays. There is growing evidence that regular consumption of kale and spinach may protect against macular degeneration, one of the most common causes of senile blindness.
Feel free to tan safely and carefully!
A diet full of good food will provide some protection, but nevertheless you need to continue to follow these recommendations:
- Use sunscreen to prevent the penetration of UVA and UVB rays, with appropriate sun protection factor
- Stay away from the sun during the hottest part of the day
- Avoid sunburn and stay in the shade at noon
- Don’t smoke – every inhale of cigarette smoke creates trillions of free radicals that accelerate skin aging process
- see your doctor immediately if you notice unusual skin blemishes or marks that have changed their appearance
- Wear quality sunglasses – protect your eyes from the ravages of large amounts of UV rays, which are associated with macular degeneration or cataracts