Sun Protection From The Inside Out
Most of us are familiar with the guidelines for sensible tanning: no prolonged exposure, no exposure during the hottest parts of the day, and no exposure without sunscreen. However, you can help your skin resist the harmful effects of the sun by preparing and protecting it another way. How? By changing your diet.
Starting now and for the rest of the summer, make an effort to eat as many of the foods listed below as you can. They will help provide your body with antioxidants – the molecules that destroy free radicals – to protect your skin, repair UV damage and prevent your skin from aging.
Foods with photo-protective benefits
The main antioxidants found in our diet are Vitamins A, C and E, carotenoids, zinc and selenium.
What are some foods that contain these “miraculous” substances?
- Vitamin C: citrus fruit, kiwis, strawberries, watercress, tomatoes, and peppers.
- Carotenoids (brightly coloured fruits and vegetables): tomatoes, carrots, pumpkin, sweet potatoes, mangoes, apricots, melon, yellow peaches, watermelon, spinach, watercress, and kale.
- Vitamin A: liver, egg yolk, oily fish, butter, and cheese.
- Vitamin E: vegetable oils such as sunflower and corn oil, almonds, hazelnuts, and green leafy vegetables.
- Zinc: wheat germ, oysters, calf liver, and wholegrain bread.
- Selenium: seafood, fish, mushrooms, garlic, onion, and wholegrain cereals.
Other nutrient-rich foods
Oily fish, rapeseed oil and nuts are also worth adding to your diet. They are high in omega-3, which protects cell membranes that are under increased attack in the summer when UV rays increase the production of free radicals.
Other foods high in omega-3 include avocados, wheat germ, green leafy vegetables (spinach, watercress, cabbage, etc.) as well as soybeans and soy derivatives that improve collagen production and skin elasticity.
Foods that cause sun-sensitivity
Some foods cause sun-sensitivity and should therefore be avoided during sun exposure.
- Foods containing psoralen: mostly found in celery, but also fennel, parsley, chervil, clementines, mandarins and bergamot.
- Drinks containing quinine: bitter-tasting drinks made with “Tonic”.
- Packaged food or drinks that contain food additives and sweeteners.
By eating your sunscreen (as well as applying it) you are providing your skin with even more protection against the harmful effects of the sun.