As the final instalment in our series on skin care, we bring you amazing foods that have been shown to increase the skin's ability to protect against UV damage. These foods contain antioxidant compounds that help fight free radicals.
The science: Free radicals are atoms or groups of atoms with an odd (unpaired) number of electrons and can be formed when oxygen interacts with certain molecules. Once formed these highly reactive radicals can start a chain reaction, like dominoes. Their chief danger comes from the damage they can do when they react with important cellular components such as DNA, or the cell membrane. Cells may function poorly or die if this occurs.
To prevent free radical damage the body has a defense system of antioxidants.
Antioxidants are molecules which can safely interact with free radicals and terminate the chain reaction before vital molecules are damaged. Although there are several enzyme systems within the body that scavenge free radicals, the principle micronutrient (vitamin) antioxidants are vitamin E, beta-carotene, and vitamin C. Additionally, selenium, a trace metal that is required for proper function of one of the body's antioxidant enzyme systems, is sometimes included in this category.
Our bodies cannot manufacture these micronutrients so they must be supplied in the diet.
In addition to broad spectrum sunscreens that block UVA, UVB rays (we recommend natural products like Lavera sunscreens that are paraben-free, cruelty-free, gluten-free and contain both physical and biological UV filters), load up your diet with these amazing foods:
Red and Orange Fruits and Veggies
Beta-carotene — another type of carotenoid found in red and orange produce — has been linked to reduced reactions to sunburns , and flavanoid-filled orange and pink citrus fruits have also been shown to improve the skin’s ability to protect against UV rays,
Green Leafy Veggies
Fresh herbs — specifically parsley, basil, sage, and rosemary — are packed with free-radical fighting and skin-protecting antioxidants. Dark leafy greens such as spinach and swiss chard are all full of antioxidants like polyphenols and carotenoids, which may also naturally protect the skin from sun damage. One study found that eating green leafy vegetables helped prevent the reappearance of skin cancer in people who had previously suffered.
Green and Black teas
Green and Black teas (which actually start as leafy greens) are packed with polyphenols that can help stop cancer development by limiting the blood supply to the cancerous area. Some studies have found that green tea can help prevent non-melanoma skin cancer.
Flavanoids found in dark chocolate may improve the skin’s ability to protect against some types of skin damage, including UV-induced issues like sun burns. And it tastes delicious!
Nature really has provided us with foods that nourish and protect. Eating a whole food plant based diet naturally enhances every aspect of your mind, body, spirit. Good for you and good for the planet! Eat well and enjoy the sunshine!
The food references come from Kate Morin's article posted on the greatest website. For the links to the studies behind these claims visit: http://greatist.com/health/6-food-groups-will-protect-you-sun