After my first diagnosis and my melanoma had been removed I was dreading the summer.
A very strict dermatologist told me to….
Apply nothing below a Factor 30 to any areas of skin exposed
Keep everything covered up
Always wear a hat and glasses
I think in a roundabout way she was just telling me to stay out the sun…..period. Yes…this summer was really going to be fun!
But over the years my approach to the sun has definitely lightened up, I’ve done my homework, and I definitely didn’t stick with the dermatologists advice because I would have ended up with a major vitamin D deficiency and probably moved to Antartica!
I’ve also become very disillusioned with conventional sunscreen and the crazy chemical filters they contain, but that’s a big topic and a whole other blog post!
So as my quest to protect myself naturally in the sun continued, DIET was the surprising thing just kept popping up on my radar.
So what did I find out….
Your diet plays a KEY role in how easily you burn, so by getting the right nutrients, you can decrease your chances of burning and damaging your skin from the harmful UV rays.
This doesn’t mean toss away your sunscreen or sun protective clothing, as these will always be your first line of defence, but intriguing new research is showing that eating the right foods will protect your skin from the inside, give you an extra boost and act like a coat of armour when you step out into the glorious sun!
So what SPF superfoods should you be adding to your shopping list…….
Lets start with my favourite..
♥ Dark chocolate
It’s the antioxidants called flavanoids found in dark chocolate that improve the skins ability to protect itself against some types of damage, including UV induced issues like sun burn. Dark chocolate that’s over 70% cacao has a high number of phenols and catechins that provide up to 25% increase in sun tolerance. Four to five squares a day (half a small bar) is recommended, that’s no problem for me !!!!
Tomatoes get their red colour from lycopene, an antioxidant that makes our skin more resistant to sunlight. Cooked tomatoes have higher levels of lycopene, and studies have shown that a few table spoons of tomato paste a day provided “significant protection” from sun damage. Time to get a nice marinara sauce on the go don’t you think!
Other foods high in lycopene are…
Sweet red peppers, watermelon, grapefruit, papaya, asparagus and red (purple) cabbage.
♥ Sweet potatoes
Sweet potatoes contain beta-carotene which is another pigment found in some fruits and vegetables that gives them their colour and helps protect us against sun damage.
Carrots, butternut squash, mangos, apricots and cantaloupe melon are also rich in the antioxidant beta-carotene.
Eating your greens will help protect your skin and your eyes too. As well as being rich in beta-carotene, greens like kale, spinach, broccoli and green beans are also rich in lutein and zeaxanthin. These antioxidants are found in the macula of the eye where they help to filter out UV light, I like to look at it as mother nature providing us with a pair of natural sunglasses!
Green teas are high in polyphenols and catechins, two flavonoids that can protect your skin from UVrays and matcha, the powdered green tea, is even more powerful. To really get the benefits you should be drinking at least two cups a day, and I have to say I’m a bit partial to a matcha latte these days, the’re so delicious!
Almonds are one of the best natural sources of vitamin E. They also contain a high level of quercetin, a flavonoid known to protect the skin against UV damage. Selenium rich brazil nuts could also be beneficial as selenium protects skin cells from the damage caused by UV radiation.
Yes!! Cucumbers are a natural sunscreen! They contain vitamin C, flavonoids and antioxidant properties that protect the skin from UV rays. Get them right at the top of your wellness shopping list!
♥ Good Fats
Omega-3 fatty acids are the good fats that protect against sun damage. Fish oil also boosts the immune system which can be damaged by UV rays. Olive oil and avocados are packed with monosaturated fats that are stored in the skin layers and protect against cell damage. Good fat also helps the body absorb more lycopene and beta-carotene from food.
And then there was a little surprise….
It turns out that caffeine might be the newest weapon in skin damage prevention!
A study from The National Cancer Institute found that people who drank four or more cups of coffee a day were 20% less likely to develop malignant melanoma, than those who drank none. And the magic lies in the caffeine and certain polyphenols in coffee that may help suppress the growth of cancer cells that get kick-started by damage from UV rays.
I don’t think I will be going as far as drinking four cups a day as I’d be bouncing off the walls but this has made me feel less guilty about my little oat flat white obsession!
So, as always, mother nature had it all sussed out for us long before sunscreen ever came on the scene, and by eating all these incredibly healthy foods not only will you be giving yourself extra protection in the sun but reaping all the other health benefits too.
Take action now and get these SPF superfoods on your shopping list this week.
I hope you enjoyed this post, please spread the love and share it with your friends and family!
Stay safe in the sun♥
Have a wonderful week Alexandra ♥