Did you know you can eat your way to better sun protection by adding certain photoprotective foods into your daily nutrition plan? Many foods contain important nutrients and vitamins that can strengthen the body’s immune system and provide a shield of protection from the inside out, as they fight off free radicals and quash inflammation, which can damage skin. Several factors that build the skin’s sun shield from within are choosing foods rich in powerful antioxidants with heavy hydrating capabilities, providing omega-3s to keep the lipid barrier strong, and understanding how one’s own “skin clock” works.
DAMAGE IN AND OUT
It is well known that prolonged sun exposure may damage the body’s collagen and elastin content by creating cell damage, causing oxidative stress and inflammation. These stressors stemming from overexposure to ultraviolet rays can initiate many cell deteriorating processes within multiple layers of the skin, resulting in compromised cellular integrity, keratin degradation, and transepidermal water loss (TEWL). The damaging results may be displayed by the skin appearing dehydrated, saggy, and sprinkled with hyperpigmentation. Most people’s bodies do have some sort of natural sun protectant factor provided systematically; and, of course, using a high-quality topical sunscreen daily to combat UVA and UVB rays is an extremely important skin health strategy.
BUILDING A SKIN ARMY
A double punch of strength can be added to the body’s skin barrier by not only using the correct topical protection, but by also eating foods packed with nutrition (antioxidants, carotenoids, polyphenols, essentials fatty acids, and beta-glucan) to aid in battling ultraviolet damage. Eating those superfoods is very important to the body’s sun defense system. Steer clear of midnight snacks and, instead grab a morning bowl of oatmeal (free radical scavengers) sprinkled with fresh blueberries (powerful antioxidants) and walnuts (omega-3 essential fatty acids), accompanied by a side of whole grain toast (beta-glucans) topped with pumpkin butter (beta carotene) and a nice warm cup of green tea (beneficial polyphenols) to boost internal skin cell protection. Simple smoothies also make it easy to get a daily dose of those highly nutritious, sun-protective foods. Place ingredients in a blender (one cup of green tea, three ice cubes, one small carrot, one cup of blueberries, one cup of watermelon, half a cup of spinach, and one tablespoon of lemon juice), blend until smooth, and enjoy knowing the internal sun protective reserves are being built up for future use.
DELICIOUS AND EDIBLE SUN PROTECTION
Fill the grocery cart with superfoods boasting bright colors, confidently knowing they will provide natural antioxidants to help build up protective skin reserves from the inside out. Here are a few common foods that offer internal sun protectant factor boosters: watermelon, cucumber, berries, sweet potatoes, tomatoes, colored peppers, leafy greens, carrots, grapes, pomegranates, fatty fish, flaxseeds, nuts, and cocoa. Make it fun, mix it up, and use nature’s pharmacy to create delicious meals to help eat your way to better sun protection and gorgeous skin from within.
Alissa de Jongh, ND, is a board-certified naturopathic doctor, CIDESCO Diplomat, and founder of Glace’ Skin Therapy. She was recognized by the American Naturopathic Medical Association with the 2018 Higher Achievement Award. In 2014, she joined Houston Community College as a professor of facial aesthetics in the consumer arts and sciences department, teaching and preparing student aestheticians for careers in the medical and luxury spa industry. Dr. de Jongh, along with her husband Dr. David de Jongh, DDS, has a private practice, integrative wellness and dental spa concept in Houston, Texas. Together, they treat patients from a whole body perspective, looking for the root cause of the issue, starting with a dental exam, then, moving into a naturopathic consultation which offers many options to create an individualized plan for optimal health, using lasers, along with her line of wellness products from Glace’ and other natural health modalities. drdejongh.com