Summer isn’t over yet, which means there are still sun-shining days and the need to protect yourself from harmful exposure.
Despite popular belief, being outside in the sun is not bad for you. Moderate sun exposure has many benefits including the synthesis of vitamin D, which helps boost immunity, and protects your bones. Although you can develop skin cancer from too much sun, not enough vitamin D from the sun leads to a greater chance of developing prostate, breast, and colon cancer. Sunscreen blocks the ability of the body to produce vitamin D which is necessary to prevent certain cancers and other diseases.
You must find a healthy balance between getting enough natural sunlight to maximize your vitamin D production and maintain your optimal health. If you are going to be outside in the sun for long periods, it is important to protect yourself.
The good news is that you can prevent skin cancer, early skin aging, and sunburns while still obtaining vitamin D from the sun. You should apply plenty of antioxidants topically to your body and also consume antioxidants to help neutralize cancer-causing free radicals.
What to look for when purchasing sunscreen:
Health conscious individuals may be watching their diet, but it is just as important to watch what they put on their skin. Look at the ingredient list and make sure that the products do not include vitamin A or its derivatives, retinol, and retinyl palmitate as they can promote skin cancer growth and free radical production in the body.
Consumer Reports suggests that children should not use spray-on sunscreen because the inhaled chemicals can be dangerous. However, adults can use spray-on, but it is recommended to spray the product on your hands first and then rub on your face and body.
Many sunscreens don’t block ultraviolet A (UVA) rays which are the ones that cause cancer. Many common sunscreens just protect ultraviolet B (UVB) rays, which prevent sunburns but not cancer. It is surprising that many reports illustrate that most sunscreens raise skin cancer risk instead of reducing them. This rise could be because people using sunscreen may not get pink or red as they are protected against UVA rays, but they are not protected against the cancerous UVB rays. Therefore look for sunscreens labeled as Broad Spectrum (protection against both UVA and UVB rays) and SPF 15 or higher. If sunscreen is used properly, you will be protected from the sun.
Upgrade your diet:
In general, for your diet, you should focus on your omega 3 to omega 6 ratios, vitamin D, levels, and the fats in the foods that you are eating. You should also focus on getting as many antioxidants from foods as possible as they can help lower your risk of sunburn. You will still benefit from the sun’s vitamin D, but your risk for getting burned and developing cancer decrease.
To obtain your omega 3 fatty acids and reduce your omega-6 fatty acids, consume more avocados, flaxseed oil, chia seeds, walnuts, dark leafy greens, hemp seeds, pumpkin seeds, and edamame. You should also eliminate sunflower oil, safflower oil, and other vegetable oils as much as possible as they are high in omega-6 fatty acids. The oils that are rich in omega-6 fatty acids penetrate up to the surface of the skin where the sun oxidizes them and leads to cancer-causing free radicals. Most people are already getting enough omega 6 fatty acids but lack in their omega 3s.
Dark leafy greens such as kale and Swiss chard, dark chocolate, and cruciferous vegetables are filled with antioxidants have been found to protect against skin cancer.
Lycopene in tomatoes has been shown to protect humans against sun damage. In a study, participants who ate five tablespoons of tomato paste daily for three months benefitted from 25 percent natural protection against sunburn. Remember that the lycopene in cooked tomatoes, tomato paste, and tomato sauce has a greater bioavailability than raw.
Drink tea. Teas, especially green tea, provide polyphenols, including catechin compounds that protect against sun damage by limiting the blood supply to the cancerous area. To benefit, drink two or more cups of green tea a day to have a 65 percent lower risk of skin cancer!
Add grape seed extract to your diet as it is rich in anthocyanins which have been proven to lower the risk of skin cancer to a great extent.
Make your own natural sunscreen!
Here are some ideas of what you can apply topically to protect and nourish your skin when it’s exposed to the sun for short and long periods of time.
Green tea protects against sunburn when applied topically in addition to drinking the tea.
Oils including sesame, coconut, sunflower, or jojoba oil are absorbed into your skin and can help block the UV rays from reaching your skin.
Shea butter naturally protects your skin.
Walnut extract helps form colored compounds that help protect you from UV rays.
Essential oils are great to add to your sunscreens. Lavender soothes and repairs the skin, and eucalyptus has some SPF.
Vitamin E oil preserves your homemade sunscreen naturally.
Zinc oxide is broad spectrum and blocks UVA and UVB rays from entering your skin by staying on the surface. Use 15–20% zinc oxide for a good amount of protection.
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