Summer is a time for care-free beach days and outdoor activities and protection from the sun isn’t always a priority. Although avoiding direct exposure is the best way to protect your skin from sun damage, diet is often an overlooked part of how the body utilizes nature to adapt to the environment. Below are important foods that can help protect your skin and combat against pre-mature aging caused by UV exposure.
- Berries rich in antioxidants: blueberries, blackberries and strawberries. Not only do these berries protect skin from UV-induced photodamage, strawberries in particular contain high amounts of vitamin C that stimulates collagen production and reduces the appearance of fine lines caused by sun exposure.
- Yellow-orange fruits & veggies: carrots, yams, pumpkins, melons, papaya & mangos. B-carotene is converted into vitamin A in the body and it gives these fruits and veggies their vibrant colour. B-carotene absorbs UV radiation and protects the skin from free radical damage. Who doesn’t love fresh cantaloupe as a beach snack?
- Red fruits and veggies: guava, watermelon and tomatoes. Lycopene is a carotenoid like B-carotene and has been found to protect against UV radiation and sun burns. It is also a powerful antioxidant so make sure you add something red to your summer salads!
- Green Tea: The anti-aging secret! Green tea contains plant polyphenols like EGCG that have significant antioxidant effects. They have been found to delay collagen cross-linking that contributes to signs of aging, they show photo-protective effects on the skin and help protect against skin cancer. So during the summer, consider trading in that hot morning coffee for a cup of cooling iced green tea!
Fun Fact: Green tea can also be applied topically to the skin (book in for an appointment to discuss how to incorporate different antioxidant-rich products and masks into your skin care routine!)
- Omega3-rich foods: wild salmon, mackerel, walnuts, flaxseeds. It’s no secret that omega-3’s help to regulate skin inflammation, and this includes reducing the tendency to sunburn. These foods are photo-protective and help maintain your skin’s integrity.
Although these foods can be very beneficial to your skin health, it's important to always protect yourself from prolonged sun exposure and wear a non-toxic sunscreen daily. Not all treatments are appropriate for every patient so be sure to book in for a naturopathic consultation to address your specific skin care needs.
Dr. Kyla Buten is a Licensed Naturopathic Doctor in Vancouver, BC who loves treating children, digestion and skin conditions – and does a lot of work with women’s health at BodaHealth.