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Sun is earth’s primary source of energy. Without it life cannot exist on this planet, yet, we need protection from it. Over the past few decades, with the increasing number of skin cancer cases, extensive research is being done to get an in-depth understanding of sun’s rays and how it helps or harms the largest organ in our body – the skin.
A daily dose of sun is essential for us in order to aid vitamin D production, but over exposure can lead to sunburn, rashes, dryness, premature aging, and most importantly, skin cancer. Awareness on this issue has resulted in a vast array of over-the-counter sunscreen products. And despite the presence of “high-quality” sunscreen products, skin cancer cases seem to be increasing. In fact, over the past couple of years there have been serious debates over the use of these products. While some say these “sunscreens” and “sunblock” lotions and oils protect you from harmful UVA and UVB rays, others say it does more damage than good as these products contain toxins that ultimately get absorbed into the skin and wreak havoc.
One may get tired of reading about these products and endless amount of research done on this particular issue. But people seem to have forgotten a key fact about Mother Nature – that it was created in such a way that everything you need is provided for us from our surroundings. Gradually maybe, but people are becoming aware of this, and are turning their attention towards the healing powers of nature. Taking care of ourselves and avoiding skin or health problems is not exactly rocket science. It is pretty simple.
We can all agree that we are what we eat. We know that our internal health depends on our lifestyle – the food we eat and daily habits such as good sleeping pattern, exercising and staying happy. Those are the factors that contribute to strong organs and a powerful immune system. The same applies to our skin. What we put into our body shows up on our skin. Therefore protecting our skin from the sun starts with eating right.
There are several foods that increase skin’s ability to protect itself from UV damage:
Omega-3 rich fish
Red snapper, sardines, salmon, Albacore tuna, mussels, oysters and anchovies are great sources of Omega-3, which has been shown to protect skin from damage. When the skin is exposed to UV rays, harmful free radicals are formed. These free radicals can damage cells and lead to cancer and premature aging. Omega-3 fatty acids act as an antioxidant that protects the body against free radicals.
Red and orange fruits and vegetables
Foods like guava, tomato, watermelon, papaya, grapefruit, red peppers, mango, carrots, etc. are lycopene containing foods. Lycopene is known to be the most powerful antioxidant which has been measured in foods, and is believed to play a very important role in preventing UV damage from sun exposure and cancer.
Green tea contains something called Epigallocatechin Gallate (EGCG), which is considered as an anti-carcinogen that wards off various types of cancers including skin cancer. It helps make the skin more resistant to UV rays.
Green leafy vegetables and herbs
Fresh herbs such as parsley, basil, sage and rosemary are packed with free-radical-fighting and skin-protecting antioxidants. Dark leafy greens such as spinach, kale, etc. are also packed with antioxidants like polyphenol and carotenoids which is also known to protect the skin from sun damage.
Broccoli and cauliflower are perhaps the most famous cruciferous vegetables, but in fact this whole family of vegetables has been linked to skin cancer prevention, as they are all exceptionally high in essential antioxidants. Broccoli sprouts have also been found to increase the skin’s ability to protect itself from cancer.
Turmeric and ginger
Recent research indicates that extracts from ginger and turmeric may help prevent DNA damage caused by the sun’s UVB rays, a leading cause of melanoma and other skin cancers.
There are so many other foods that contribute to healthy skin and reduce damage caused by the sun. But, we can’t solely rely on eating the right kind of food for sun protection. We need external precautionary measure too.
Surprisingly, several natural oils provide a broad spectrum of sun protection for the skin.
- Red raspberry oil – SPF 25 to 50
- Carrot seed oil – SPF 35 to 40
- Wheat germ oil – SPF 20
- Avocado oil – SPF 4 to 15
- Olive oil – SPF 2 to 8
- Coconut oil – SPF 4 to 6
- Sea butter – SPF 4 to 6
- Almond oil – SPF 5
When nature provides answers to all sorts of problems, who needs expensive, toxic products packed in plastic bottles right? We just have to use natural products, eat healthy, be happy and jump right in.
Photo: Getty Images