Ah, the warm, therapeutic feeling of sunshine. There is nothing quite like it.
But, lapping up those rays this summer can take a toll on your skin. Sunlight (ultraviolet radiation) exposure leads to inflammation in the skin, rough patches, sunspots and collagen and elastin loss (that means wrinkles). And more seriously, it can lead to skin cancer. Along with wearing sunscreen year-round and covering up, your diet can help. Bite back against sun damage by eating foods that contain nutrients that help your skin repair, rejuvenate and look radiant.
1. Crimini Mushrooms
They aren’t just a cute addition on a kebab; they’re packed with skin-protecting nutrients like selenium. Selenium is needed to make one of the body’s most potent antioxidants, glutathione peroxidase, which fights damaging compounds, called free radicals, which form in the skin during sunlight exposure. Since you can’t avoid all sunlight exposure, your only defense is to have consistent presence of antioxidants in your skin – eat up! Plus, crimini mushrooms are a great source of B vitamins, which are needed to create new, youthful looking skin cells. Green foods are also great sources of B vitamins and other nutrients that support the skin – add some spinach or kale to your next salad, or try VegeGreens® in a refreshing fruit smoothie.
Juicy, tart Montmorency cherries are your best source of the antioxidant, melatonin, which protects the skin against ultraviolet radiation. Researchers have discovered that this powerful little nutrient also helps repair sunburned skin, thanks to its ability to stimulate new cell growth. Cherries are also packed with vitamin C needed to build collagen – your skin’s natural scaffolding and wrinkle preventer. Strawberries, raspberries, lemons and berry-based powders such as PhytoBerry® are other great sources of skin-repairing vitamin C.
3. Green Tea
Hot green tea isn’t a popular picnic basket drink, but iced green tea should be the ‘go-to’ drink this summer. Scientists have discovered that an antioxidant in green tea, epigallocatechin-3-gallate (EGCG), fights inflammation in the skin. EGCG neutralizes free radicals that form in the skin when it is exposed to sunlight, reducing their ability to cause damage that leads to inflammation. It even helps prevent wrinkles and other signs of unhealthy skin. Last summer, the Journal of Nutrition reported that the skin of women who consumed a drink with green tea polyphenols for 12 weeks showed improvements in elasticity, roughness, scaling, and moisture content.
Including some pomegranate to your summer picnic basket may be a great choice for your skin, according to recent research from the University of Wisconsin. Pomegranate is well known for its high antioxidant content, and has been found in studies to offer anti-inflammatory benefits to the skin. But, scientists have also found that nutrients in pomegranates can reduce the ability of UVB radiation to cause cancer-promoting damage in your skin cells, including alteration of NF-kappa, a pre-cancerous biomarker.
Add fatty fish like salmon to your summer skin-beautifying menu. It’s a great source of omega-3 fatty acids that help protect the skin from damaging inflammation caused by sun exposure. These good fats also help keep the skin hydrated and radiant. Since salmon isn’t the best food to pack in a picnic basket on a hot summer day, you can stay looking your best with quality fish oil, such as our OmegEssential®.
Supplemental Skin Health
The amount of antioxidants in your blood decreases when your skin is exposed to sunlight. A double blind, controlled trial concluded that eating antioxidants (vitamin C and selenium) offers the skin protection against sunlight. Dig into nutrient-rich foods (and lather on the sunscreen) to help prevent sunburns and subsequent skin damage this summer. Since summers are busy, commonly causing us to eat a burger and fries out of convenience, it’s important to consider supplementing your diet with multivitamins or whole food powders to ensure the amount of antioxidants in your skin doesn’t become too low. Eating your way to beautiful summer skin is easy! Many summer fruits including cherries and strawberries contain natural compounds that protect the skin. Mmm… dip strawberries in low-fat, organic yogurt for some extra skin supporting nutrients. Probiotics found in fermented foods like yogurt are linked to skin health. Or, dip them into chocolate – another great source of skin-protecting antioxidants. Enjoy eating your skin beautiful and remember there are more beautifying nutrients in organic foods than conventionally grown foods.