Matt & I just returned from 4 days of bicycle-camping with 11 friends through the Carrizo Plains. The super-bloom was breathtaking, and the sunburns each of us came home with were frustrating. Most of us had applied and re-applied our sunscreen lotions each day, but every single one of us still got burned. Hmmm…Are the sun’s rays becoming more and more dangerous each year? So much so, that re-applying SPF 30-50 sunscreens doesn’t even work anymore?
Synchronously, two days after coming home from the trip, your favorite and mine; Dr. Joseph Mercola, sent out a super-informative article on the importance of safe sun exposure, which foods you can eat for optimal skin-health, AND to establish built-in UVA protection in your skin.
I’ve outlined here for you:
Mercola’s Guidelines For Safe Sun Exposure
Toxic Ingredients In Conventional Sunscreens
Links to Natural Sunscreens & How to make your own
Foods Which Help Create Healthy Skin & Built-In UVA Protection
So, Dr. Joseph Mercola says:
When it comes to your skin, what you eat has a lot to do with your complexion, and, a number of skin problems can be cleared up simply by altering your diet. As a general rule, a diet high in fresh vegetables, which are rich in bioflavanoids, and plenty of omega-3 fat, will lay the necessary groundwork for a healthy, youthful complexion. Certain nutrients also have protective benefits, helping your skin develop some natural, built in sun protection, and ward off the damage caused by exposure to the elements.
Insulin and leptin resistance are major accelerants of the aging processes, which affect both your inside and outside, so it’s important to keep your blood sugar levels low and steer clear of refined foods if you want to maintain a youthful look — not to mention optimal health. The most effective way to do this is by reducing or eliminating processed, packaged, and fast foods, as they’re high in refined sugar, processed fructose, trans fats, processed salt, and other detrimental ingredients. Drugs and alcohol are also clearly enemies of a glowing complexion, and pasteurized dairy products are sometimes to blame for skin ailments.
Courtney here again…
First off, Dr. Mercola stresses the importance of SAFE SUN EXPOSURE (guidelines listed below) so your body can produce natural vitamin D, and therefore gently build up your base tan, which helps protect you from the sun’s harmful, UVA rays.
You see, throughout the day, there are two different types of rays we get from the sun. One type is beneficial, and one type is detrimental. The bad rays, called UVA rays, occur all day long. They penetrate your skin deeply, so they can cause free radical damage. They break through cloud cover, pollution, and penetrate most types of glass. They can damage your skin even in the morning and in the late afternoon, when the sun’s rays are bent, or whenever the sun is LESS than 50 degrees from the horizon, which happens year-round in high latitudes such as Alaska.
Okay. The beneficial rays, the UVBs, are the type of rays that help our bodies make vitamin D, but they only occur in significant amounts between about 10AM – 2PM in the late spring, summer, and early fall in most latitudes, or when the sun is overhead and the rays are more direct (MORE than 50 degrees above the horizon).
Scientists are now discovering the many benefits of getting a safe, daily dose of UVB rays of sunshine. These benefits, aside from getting a deeper skin color and thusly more natural UVA protection, include; natural vitamin D production (which cuts cancer risk by 60% !), improved mood and energy through release of endorphins, synchronization of biorhythms, and beneficial treatment of various skin diseases like multiple sclerosis, fibromyalgia, and tuberculosis. Wow!
Of course, if you’re out in the sun for extended periods (more than about 15-20 minutes for most fair skinned people), avoid burning at all costs. Burning increases skin cancer risk. You can avoid burning by limiting sun exposure, wearing protective clothing, and using a natural, non-chemical sunscreen.
Dr. Mercola highlights the many toxic ingredients in conventional sunscreens:
Para amino benzoic acid…
Potentially harmful chemicals such as dioxybenzone and oxybenzone are some of the most powerful free radical generators known to man! So if your sunscreen contains dioxybenzone, oxybenzone, or any of the other chemicals he just revealed, he recommends tossing it in the trash and switching to a formula that is safe and healthy for your skin.
Also, research suggests four common ingredients in sunscreen awaken harmful dormant viruses within coral reefs. National Geographic recently came out with a startling discovery: Sunscreen chemicals are killing coral reefs around the world. Four ingredients commonly found in popular brands of sunscreen – paraben, cinnamate, benzophenone, and a camphor derivative – are suspected of awakening dormant viruses which kill certain algae that live inside coral reefs. Essential to the health and well-being of coral, these algae provide coral with its food energy and contribute to its vibrant color. Without these algae, coral turns white – or “bleaches” – and dies. Tragically, these sunscreen chemical-driven viruses replicate until the algae explode, spreading viruses into surrounding coral communities.
MERCOLA’S GUIDELINES FOR SAFE SUN EXPOSURE
1) You should try to get out in the sun in the midday, and only stay out as long as it takes your skin to turn a slightly darker shade. For me, since I’m fairly fair (thanks to my Irish heritage), that’s about 15 minutes in the spring & fall, and only 5-10 minutes in the summer. As soon as I turn slightly pink, I go back inside or I cover up. Lately, I’ve been able to spend longer and longer periods out in the sun without burning, as I’ve slowly and steadily developed my protective tan. It’s best to let our natural pigmentation (tan) develop slowly to avoid burning even slightly.
2) Avoid burning at all costs. Sunburn is one of the biggest risk factors for skin cancer and photo-aging. If you accidentally do burn, use raw aloe vera to sooth and heal your skin. If you have to be out in the sun for extended periods, cover up or use a non-chemical sunscreen. I like California Baby and Elemental Herbs SPF 33…you can also make your own natural sunscreen! Here’s a LINK to a great article and recipe for natural sunscreen: http://wellnessmama.com/2558/natural-homemade-sunscreen-recipe/. And, of course, www.mercola.com for natural, affordable sunscreens AND bug repellents
3) When sunning, get as much of your skin exposed as possible, even if it’s simply rolling up your sleeves and pant legs, but shade your delicate face and eyes.
4) Avoid sunning through a window or glass, where the beneficial UVB rays get blocked but the bad UVA rays come through.
5) Avoid foods which weaken your skin’s natural sun protection: refined vegetable oils, processed foods, foods with chemical additives, and inflammatory foods. Eat plenty of real foods which contribute to your skin’s natural sun protection: virgin coconut oil, plenty of omega 3 fats, quality vitamin C, oral Vitamin D3, and the supplement Astazanthin (which occurs in micro-algae and in fish/krill oils).
6) After sunning, when showering, wash your armpits and groin with soap but try not to scrub the rest of your skin with soap as it interferes with you body’s ability to absorb vitamin D. You see, vitamin D production happens in the sebum (oils) of your skin, which can take up to 2 days to be absorbed into your body.
FOODS WHICH CREATE HEALTHY SKIN
Dr. Mercola says:
By keeping your insides healthy and clean, your skin will have no choice but follow suit and mirror your internal state. To accomplish this, you need to pay careful attention to what you put into your body. Avoid known skin and health-wreckers like processed foods, sugary drinks, and alcohol, and load up on fresh veggies, fruits, and berries (ideally organic and locally grown). Juicing is an excellent way to pack more vegetables into your diet.
Also remember that your skin needs healthy fats — especially animal-based omega-3 — to stay firm, supple, and wrinkle free. I recommend sticking to low-mercury fish that are high in omega-3, such as wild Alaskan salmon (not Atlantic salmon, which is typically farmed), and small fatty fish like sardines and anchovies, or take a high quality supplement like krill or salmon oil. Both of these also contain a small amount of astaxanthin, which can offer potent sun protection, acting as an internal sunscreen. In terms of antioxidant capacity, it’s 65 times more powerful than vitamin C, 54 times more powerful than beta-carotene, and 14 times more powerful than vitamin E. It exhibits VERY STRONG free radical scavenging activity and protects your cells, organs and body tissues from oxidative damage.
There are only two main sources of astaxanthin — the microalgae that produce it, and the sea creatures that consume the algae, such as salmon, shellfish, and krill. Many athletes report astaxanthin allows them to stay in the sun for longer periods of time without feeling ill and without burning. Less burning also means lower skin cancer risk. Cyanotech Corporation funded a study through an independent consumer research laboratory to measure the skin’s resistance to both UVA and UVB light, before and after astaxanthin supplementation. After taking 4 mg of astaxanthin per day for two weeks, subjects showed a significant increase in the amount of time necessary for UV radiation to redden their skin.
PLANT-BASED FATS FOR BEAUTIFUL SKIN:
Healthy fats which contribute to a glowing complexion include coconut oil, avocado, olives and olive oil, and raw nuts. Macadamia and pecans contain the most healthy fat while being low in carbs and protein. Brazil nuts are another good choice. Besides being on the higher end in terms of healthy fat, and lower in terms of carbs and protein, they’re also a good source of selenium, which can help protect against sun damage and age spots. As little as 3 to 4 Brazil nuts can provide you with nearly 4 times the recommended daily amount of selenium.
SPECIFIC VEGGIES & FRUITS FOR HEALTHY SKIN:
Traditionally fermented foods and/or a high quality probiotic can also be very helpful for optimizing your skin health. Fermented/Cultured foods help promote the growth of friendly intestinal bacteria and aid healthy digestion. They also support healthy immune function, and increase B vitamins, omega-3, digestive enzymes, lactase and lactic acid, and other immune chemicals that fight off harmful bacteria and promote healthy skin…your skin often shows an accurate picture of your gut health.
Raw and cooked vegetables as 60-70% of your diet supports your natural detoxification systems. For example, healthy liver function is supported by dark green leafy veggies such as kale, spinach, dandelion greens, and broccoli. Aim for a wide variety of veggies in different colors for the widest variety of nutrients and antioxidants.
Orange-red vegetables such as carrots, sweet potatoes, pumpkin and red peppers are particularly rich in beta-carotene. Your body converts beta-carotene into vitamin A, which prevents cell damage and premature aging.
Most leafy greens provide lots of vitamin A as well, but spinach, kale, and Swiss chard also provide lutein and zeaxanthin. These antioxidants are perhaps most well-known for their eye benefits, but they also greatly benefit your skin. Similar to astaxanthin, research has shown lutein and zeaxanthin can provide a four-fold increase in protection against skin damage caused by UV radiation. Lycopene also offers protection against UV radiation damage by acting as internal sunscreen. Tomatoes are a prime source of lycopene, levels of which are much higher in cooked, processed tomatoes such as tomato paste.
And high-antioxidant treats like cruciferous veggies, raw cacao nibs, and green tea are also known to beautify your skin. Dark chocolate is another source of valuable antioxidants. Cocoa flavanols in particular have been shown to boost skin hydration and improve blood circulation. In one study, women who drank a flavanol-rich cocoa powder drink daily for 12 weeks saw improvements in skin roughness and scaliness compared to the control group. For maximum health benefits, I recommend raw cacao nibs, which are actually bitter, not sweet. If too bitter, opt for the darkest chocolate you can tolerate, ideally 70 percent cacao or higher. Milk chocolate is worthless, as the sugar content is far too high and outweighs any benefits from the little polyphenols present in it.
Vitamin C aids in your body’s production of collagen, which is the protein that forms the basic scaffolding of your skin. It also helps with skin healing, if you’re struggling with any kind of skin problems. Foods high in vitamin C include citrus fruits, papaya, kiwi, strawberries, red bell peppers, broccoli, and Brussel’s sprouts. Citrus fruits also contain limonene which is associated with a 34 percent lower risk of skin cancer.
Besides vitamin C, vitamins D and B3 have also been shown to provide valuable protection against skin damage and skin cancer. B3 rich foods include: high protein foods like meat, liver, milk and peanuts. Also, rice, whole wheat, turnips, celery leaves, sunflower seeds, almonds, fish, prawns, tuna, chicken breast, beef, halibut, and salmon. Other food sources of vitamin B3 include mushrooms, cantaloupe, mangoes, peaches, asparagus, romaine lettuce, tomatoes, mustard greens, and squash…green beans, broccoli, and potatoes are also excellent sources of vitamin B3.
And, as mentioned initially, Vitamin D is formed in your skin, and once activated in the liver and kidneys it influences the genes in your skin and helps prevent the type of abnormalities that ultraviolet light causes. As a result, sun avoidance becomes the factor that paradoxically can trigger skin cancer.
Excerpts for this article brought to you by Dr. Joesph Mercola’s article:
For more helpful articles, please visit Mercola.com today and receive your FREE Take Control of Your Health E-book, by Dr. Mercola, a New York Times bestselling author!