Happy Friday my friends! It’s been a busy week and I had no time for my weekly blog post last Friday. Sometimes I need some help thinking of what to blog about and what you guys would be interested in reading. My best friend and I were texting each other the other day and she gave me a great idea for a blog post. I don’t know why I didn’t think of this myself, after she mentioned it to me I remember I saw something similar on the Today Show one morning last week, but then my brain goes off in another direction and if I don’t write down an idea, I completely forget about it. lol
So, this Preventative Health series post is all about protecting yourself from the sun. I don’t think the sun is “dangerous” like what’s being touted these days. The sun is the best form of Vitamin D and it just feels so good to be outside in the sun. I am one of those people that tans pretty easily and very rarely gets sunburn. Even so, I still like to protect my skin and body from too much UV exposure.
My best friend mentioned eating certain foods to protect from sun burn and I wanted to share that there are certain foods that can help protect your skin from the harmful effects of UV rays, but there are even better ways without loading your body full of toxic chemicals that come from sunscreens.
Skin Cancer, The Sun, Vitamin D & Sunscreen
Skin cancer rates are rising 4.2% annually, despite the fact that we spend less time outdoors and wear more sunscreen. Rather than consider that perhaps there is another cause to the rising rates of skin (and practically every other) cancer, the mainstream advice is: avoid the sun more, use more sunscreen, and should you be worried about your vitamin D levels, take a supplement.
In fact, a study in the Journal of Clinical Pharmacology and Therapeutics reports that:
Sunscreens protect against sunburn, but there is no evidence that they protect against basal cell carcinoma or melanoma. Problems lie in the behavior of individuals who use sunscreens to stay out longer in the sun than they otherwise would. Vitamin D inhibition is, at this stage, unlikely due to insufficient use by individuals. Safety of sunscreens is a concern, and sunscreen companies have emotionally and inaccurately promoted the use of sunscreens.
We all know that avoiding sunburn is the smart thing to do, but the question “is sunscreen the best way to do so” the answer? We know that sunscreen inhibits Vitamin D production, especially when used regularly and that Vitamin D deficiency has been strongly linked to a variety of cancers, including the most dangerous types of breast and colon cancer.
So as a society, we avoid the sun, which helps our bodies naturally produce Vitamin D, and put chemical laden lotions on instead in hopes of reducing one type of cancer (skin cancer). In the process, we might make ourselves vitamin D deficient and increase our chance of a host of other cancers, including some of the most fatal cancers.
“Eating Orange and Red Foods Protect You from the Sun”
Have you ever heart this statement? Carotenoids and Lycopene can both help protect your body from the harmful effects of UV exposure, but how much do you need to eat? In this study of carotenoids, supplement intervention for a period of ten weeks did improve protection against UV rays. In another study, participants ate tomato paste for a period of 10 weeks, which showed that it is feasible to achieve protection against UV light-induced erythema (AKA-sunburn) by ingestion of a commonly consumed dietary source of lycopene.
So, yes, eating more orange and red foods can protect you from the sun, but how much you need, isn’t really stated, and there actually is a much better way to protect yourself from the sun. Although, I do recommend eating an anti-inflammatory diet, for overall better health.
My #1 Tip for Protecting Your Skin from UV Damage
Astaxanthin – is a carotenoid, but is produced only by the microalgae Haematococcus pluvialis when its water supply dries up, forcing it to protect itself from ultraviolet radiation. It’s the algae’s survival mechanism—astaxanthin serves as a “force field” to protect the algae from lack of nutrition and/or intense sunlight.
Many carotenoids are easily obtainable through a good diet rich in fresh organic produce. However, this powerful carotenoid is harder to come by. 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).
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.
The result was that in only three weeks of taking 4mg per day, subjects showed a significant increase in the amount of time necessary for UV radiation to redden their skin.
I personally take astaxanthin and notice a difference in how long I can be out in the sun, especially when on vacation at the beach, and even improved skin tone, firmness, and fewer wrinkles.
When you supplement with astaxanthin, make sure you are getting one that is coming from marine algae, NOT SYNTHETIC. This is the brand I use and trust:
If you still want to use sunscreen, watch out for toxic ingredients in sunscreen.
The sun is our best source of Vitamin D.
Vitamin D is an essential nutrient that is responsible for over 3,000 chemical processes in our bodies and is VERY important for optimal functioning of the immune system, cardiovascular system, bone health, and overall disease prevention…including melanoma and other cancers. The best way to get adequate amounts of vitamin D is from the sun. You can also get it through supplementation and small amounts in food.
Complete avoidance of the sun by using sunscreen all the time or staying indoors may actually cause adverse health effects by blocking vitamin D. For most people…It’s good to allow your body to get small doses of the sun without sunscreen.
However…there are instances when you are going to be in the sun for prolonged periods of time and you do need to protect your body from sun burn and damage.
Active ingredients in sunscreens come in two forms, mineral and chemical filters. Each uses a different mechanism for protecting skin and maintaining stability in sunlight. The most common sunscreens on the market contain chemical filters. These products typically include a combination of two to six of these active ingredients: oxybenzone, avobenzone, octisalate, octocrylene, homosalate and octinoxate. Mineral sunscreens use zinc oxide and/or titanium dioxide. A handful of products combine zinc oxide with chemical filters.
Lab studies indicate that some chemical UV filters may mimic hormones or cause skin allergies, which raises important questions about unintended effects on human health from frequent sunscreen application. The most worrisome is oxybenzone, added to nearly 70 percent of the non-mineral sunscreens in EWG’s 2016 sunscreen database.
Choose a sunscreen with non-nano zinc oxide as the active ingredient.
Zinc oxide, compared to other active ingredients, provides much less chemical toxicity while offering a good balance of UVA and UVA protection. The EWG recommends sunscreens with zinc oxide as the active ingredient because it is stable in sunlight and can provide greater protection from UVA rays than titanium oxide or any other sunscreen chemicals.
Chris Kresser, a well-known functional medicine practitioner, recommends using a non-nano zinc oxide if possible, because the particles are not large enough to be absorbed into the skin. It is unclear whether nanoparticles are damaging to human cells, so he suggests getting a sunscreen without nanoparticles if possible. “Non-nano particles” is something you can look for on the label or bottle when purchasing a sunscreen.
Hopefully, this article helps you protect your skin this summer without using chemical-laden sunscreens and to not be afraid of the sun.
Stay Healthy my Friends!
Carrie A Groff