Natural ways to protect against sun damage

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baby in sun(NaturalHealth365) Each year over 5 million people are treated for skin cancer, a health concern easy enough to prevent with minimal intervention. While there are safe vitamin-D synthesizing periods to spend in the sun, beyond that, safe sun protection is a must. So, let’s get to some ‘tasty’ ways to avoid sun damage.

You can literally eat your way to photo-protection by consuming orange peels, camu camu berries (or powder) and microalgaes like, spirulina. These are just a few of the many superfoods that offer photo-protective benefits for your skin.

One of the most scientifically-valid ways to naturally protect yourself from sun damage

We know that the benefits of vitamin C are far reaching – above and below the skin. Research at the Linus Pauling Institute of Oregon State University suggests that concentrations of vitamin C present in the dermis and epidermis may help prevent UV-induced photo-damage.

While topical applications can boost C levels in the skin, the stratum corneum is a primary obstacle to absorption. However, researchers observed that vitamin C preparations with low pH levels around 4 such as the uncharged form of C – ascorbic acid – are more bioavailable and will be absorbed into the epidermal layer.

While vitamin C confers skin protection, the benefits are not direct. The skin health benefits of vitamin C are experienced through C’s antioxidant properties protecting against UV-induced, free-radical damage. Promising research has observed that vitamin C, when combined orally with vitamin E, may mutually enhance their skin-protective properties.

The best way to consume ‘internal sun protection’

Superfoods rich in antioxidants help protect us against the sun’s harmful UV rays. If getting enough of your fruits and veggies seems difficult, you can opt for convenient juicing.

Our own juicing expert, here at Natural Health 365, Linda Kordich has a great sun-protecting juice made from carrots. Here are some of our favorite superfoods, veggies and fruits to protect yourself from the potential threats of sun exposure:

  • Camu camu berry: Boasting 50 times more vitamin C than oranges – get this berry in its superfood powder form to maximize its use.
  • Microalgaes such as spirulina and blue-green algae that contain astaxanthin.
  • Don’t forget: Add some carrots, dark berries, avocados, cacao and cinnamon to your juices and foods to boost antioxidant activity even higher.

A few items to avoid direct contact with the skin include limes and celery due to their potential skin-darkening effects.

A word of caution about toxic sunscreens on your skin

By now you’ve entered the somewhat bewildering discussion on nanoparticle safety. Because nanoparticles vary significantly by shape, size and even coating, their properties make them difficult to categorize in a way that is safety-apparent to consumers.

Misleading labeling has many consumers confused about which sunscreens are safe for their families and which may actually cause sun damage to the skin. The International Agency for Research on Carcinogens labels titanium dioxide as a potential carcinogen and cites that when either titanium dioxide or zinc oxide are inhaled they elicit direct harm to lung tissue.

Here are some safe sunscreen guidelines:

1. Look for uncoated zinc-oxide or uncoated, non-nano zinc oxide.
2. Be sure that sunscreen product you purchase contain ingredients that will not be harmful if absorbed into the skin.
3. Limit yourself to 20 minutes of direct sunlight daily without the use of topical sunscreen.

Bottom line, don’t put yourself or the environment at risk by using sunscreens that contain harmful chemicals. Before slathering your family in sunscreen this summer, consider how you can up their protection by adding powerful sun protecting superfoods to your regular diet. It will really be worth the effort.

About the author: Christine M. Dionese L.Ac, MSTOM is an integrative health expert, medical journalist and food writer. She’s dedicated her career to helping others understand the science of happiness and its powerful effects on everyday human health. Christine practices, writes and speaks on environmental functional medicine, personalized medicine and epigenetics, food science and sustainable living.

References:
http://lpi.oregonstate.edu/mic/micronutrients-health/skin-health/nutrient-index/vitamin-C
http://www.cdc.gov/media/releases/2014/p1110-skin-cancer.html
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3423755

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  • Jane Nichols

    It’s good to know there are other ways to protect yourself without avoiding sunlight. All the suggestions are not only promotiong sun protection, but are regenerative measures. Pharmaceutical lotions and sprays are identified as toxic to both the person and environment.

  • Nurse Lori

    When did people start hiding from the sun? This is a modern day focus, because the sun is now thought to be the cause of the rise in skin lesions. However, the real facts are sunlight protects us from other major chronic conditions.

  • I take anywhere from 1-2 hours of sunlight everyday, no sun protection, some times use coconut oil for the fun of it. Never had any skin diseases or problems. Countless studies (~2,500) prove that Vitamin D is protective against cancer and other diseases.

    Anyways, I really wanted to add that you missed Red Palm Oil as a great food source of skin protecting nutrients such as Vitamin E, Vitamin A, CoQ10 and plant sterols.

    But if what you are looking for is a sun-screen, then a natural Aloe Vera gel cream will do the job.

    20 minutes, is the minimum amount you need to be under the sun, everyday, to produce the recommended amount of vitamin D, to stay healthy. I would suggest going for the “protections” after at least 1 hour of sunlight exposure rather than 20 minutes. Sunscreens block the production of vitamin D on the skin.

  • Gloria

    Good comments, if we were meant to avoid the sun than we wouldn’t have so many hours of sunlight. What are the medical and pharmaceutic industry thinking, as this article states we are supplied with what we need in nature to offset any perceived dangers.

  • Ella James

    If you’re going to be in the water, nothing beats the Dermaxsol sunscreen from Solvaderm! It’s the only sunscreen that keeps my face from burning (or even tanning) when I surf all day – everything else seems to wash off quickly/needs to be reapplied too often.