As important as using sunscreen is to protect your skin when enjoying those longer summer days, sun protection can start with what you eat. Certain foods can actually help boost your natural defences against the sun to work alongside a good quality sun cream with SPF. We've consulted Naturopathic Nutritionist Amy Morris to get her round-up of the top ingredients to prevent sunburn, which can cause premature ageing, long-lasting damage to the skin and skin cancer.
1. OILY FISH
Oily fish such as anchovies, mackerel and salmon, all possess natural anti-inflammatory properties because of the high levels of omega 3 that they contain. According to research, omega 3 compounds can help to protect cells from free radical damage caused by the sun. Evidence also suggests that increasing your intake of omega 3 can help to increase the time it takes to get burnt. Fear not, if you want all the benefits of omega 3, but dislike fish or struggle to eat the recommended two servings a week, try supplementing it with a high quality product such as Uno Cardio 1000 instead.
2. TOMATOES, RED PEPPERS AND SWEET POTATOES
It is the lycopene content of red vegetables like tomatoes and red peppers that have been shown to help in the protection against some UV-induced skin irritations like erythema (redness of the skin). Another type of carotenoid, beta-carotene, found in red and orange coloured fresh produce, has also been linked to reduced reactions to sunburn. All of these make the perfect beach side snack when pre-chopped and dipped into hummus.
3. FRESH HERBS AND LEAFY GREENS
Herbs may be small but they can pack a potent punch of sun protection, especially parsley, basil, and sage which are loaded with antioxidants to help protect our skin from free radical damage and early signs of aging. The more we consume, the more our skin is prepared to fight whatever extremes it faces, including the hot, blazing sun. Spinach and chard are also rich in antioxidants like polyphenols and carotenoids which may be capable of protecting the skin from sun damage.
4. CRUCIFEROUS VEGETABLES
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. Chomping on some raw broccoli never sounded so tempting…
5. GREEN TEA
Brief intense periods of sun that can lead to blistering and painful sunburn, can also increase your chances of developing melanoma - a deadly type of skin cancer. A study has found that people who drink one cup of green tea per day have a lower incidence of melanoma. It’s incredibly important to keep hydrated in the sun, so why not try a cup of cold green tea or incorporating it into one of your favourite summer drinks?
Good quality sun cream with SPF is always recommended, and should be applied regularly. Thanks to Amy Morris, water-for-health.co.uk.