Diet and Nutrition – Seven Foods for UV Protection
Many of us in Arizona are sun lovers, and proper diet and nutrition are essential in the fight against the sun’s harmful UV rays which can play havoc on our skin. While limited and managed exposure to the sun is beneficial with regard to Vitamin D levels, UV rays can cause more harm than good. Skin cancer is the most common form of cancer in the United States today and your best lines of defense are a multi-layered approach. Daily application of topical sunscreens is advised, but most importantly — start from the inside out so that beneficial diet and nutrition can bolster your body from within. These seven foods and ingestibles will help maintain your body’s defenses against the sun’s harmful rays.
Lycopene – as we reported on our blog a few weeks back, studies have shown that foods rich in the antioxidant lycopene like tomatoes, grapefruit, watermelon and other brightly-colored fresh fruits and vegetables have shown in studies to help prevent and repair damage to our skin and DNA caused by the sun.
Fish – Fish is rich in omega3 fatty acids which help protect against skin cancers like the all-too-common and dreaded melanoma. Baked, broiled or lightly pan-seared fresh fishes like salmon, mackerel, trout and even sardines contain those omega threes our body needs.
Berries & Fruits – fresh organic blackberries, blueberries, strawberries and even apples contain catechins; potent antioxidants that aid in skin defense. Rule of thumb: the deeper and darker the color of these foods — the higher the catechin count, so don’t shy away from popping a handful of fresh berries or fruit in your mouth each day!
Cruciferous Vegetables – our leafy green friends of the flora kingdom include tasty and nutritious plants such as kale, collard greens, cabbage, bok choy, kohlrabi, turnips, rutabaga, mustards and cresses like watercress — and of course broccoli, cauliflower and romanesco. Not only are these veggies packed with antioxidants and phytochemicals, they tend to be a great natural source of Vitamin C and soluble fiber!
Spices – Put a little spice in your life and your body with beneficial botanicals like ginger and turmeric. Fresh ginger root adds flavor and depth to many dishes and drinks and it also aids the skin by preventing the breakdown of elastin, which keeps our skin soft and subtle. Depleted elastin leads to wrinkles as we age. Tumeric, another spicy root is thought to assist with collagen — another essential component of young, healthy looking skin.
Sun Defying Drinks! The antioxidant properties of green tea are widely accepted as a great natural protection from the sun. The key component to green tea’s benefits is a potent catechin known as EGCG or Epigallocatechin. As mentioned above, catechins are powerful antioxidants and green tea is a chock full of EGCG.
Cocoa – researchers and cardiologists in a University of California San Francisco (UCSF) study found that, “high concentrations of cocoa flavanols decrease blood pressure, improve the health of blood vessels and increase the number of circulating angiogenic cells in patients with heart disease. The findings indicate that foods rich in flavanols – such as cocoa products, tea, wine, and various fruits and vegetables – have a cardio-protective benefit for heart disease patients”. It is also believed that the increased flow of blood to dermal and subcutaneous skin layers assists with endogenous photo-protection and hydration –imperative for combating the sun’s rays.
In general we recommend a diet rich with an assortments of fresh fruits, raw vegetables and moderated meat and protein intake for all aspects of a healthy body. If you’d like individual diet and nutrition consultation, contact us at LifeScape Premier in Scottsdale. Our award-winning concierge medical staff is available to meet with you one-on-one and provide a customized dietary plan that makes sense for your body, your lifestyle and protects you from our sun’s potentially hazardous rays!