What did we do to protect our skin from the sun, before sunscreen was invented? Luckily for us, nature takes care of its own. We’ve been suffering through a heat wave all month so we know sun damage, prickly heat and heat rash just have to be on your mind. While covering up and protecting your skin with sunscreen can help prevent sunburn and sun damage from the outside, you can also protect your skin from the inside by eating the right foods – nature’s way of keeping us safe.
Fight cancer and heart disease with Carotenoids
Carotenoids, the colorful plant pigments some of which the body can turn into vitamin A, are powerful antioxidants that can help prevent some forms of cancer and heart disease, and act to enhance our immune response to infections. Red and yellow fruits and vegetables are high in carotenoids – generally, the deeper the color of the fruit or vegetable, the higher the concentration. For example, carrots, cantaloupe, apricots, and mangoes are good sources as are green leafy vegetables like spinach, asparagus, and broccoli where the green chlorophyll masks the tell-tale orange-yellow color. Eating foods high in carotenoids may protect the skin from sun damage by preventing sun-induced collagen breakdown, according to the American Academy of Dermatology.
Unlike such compounds as vitamin C, which break down when exposed to heat, lycopene (a type of carotenoid) is better absorbed by our body when it’s cooked, so try to add stewed tomatoes, tomato paste, sun-dried tomatoes, and roasted red peppers to your salads and sandwiches. If you’re shopping for fresh produce to cook with, choose the brightest red fruits and veggies as they contain the most lycopene. In addition, lycopene is fat-soluble, which means our body absorbs it more efficiently when consumed alongside healthy fats, so make sure there’s olive oil in your marinara sauce and avocado in your salsa.
Reverse UV sun damage and premature aging with Vitamin C
Vitamin C is necessary for the formation of collagen and elastin and is also an important antioxidant. Researchers conducting a 2007 study in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition noted a positive relationship between vitamin C intake and younger-looking skin. Per the American Academy of Dermatology, as an antioxidant, vitamin C may also reverse the negative effects of UV sun damage. Foods rich in vitamin C include citrus fruits, strawberries, tomatoes, broccoli, sweet potatoes, and cantaloupe. Oranges, nectarines, apples, and berries all contain this wonderful vitamin. Ripe and local fruits survive and fight the sun and will fight sun damage within our body.
Protect against bladder cancer, heart disease and healthy skin with Vitamin E
Vitamin E is a group of 8 fat-soluble vitamins which help prevent oxidative stress to the body, and other vitamins within the body. Adequate amounts of vitamin E can help protect against heart disease, cancer, and age-related eye damage. Foods rich in vitamin E include sunflower seeds, Paprika, and Red Chili Powder, almonds, pine nuts and peanuts, and dried herbs like basil and oregano.
Do eat healthy and stay hydrated this summer!