Don’t let your skin take a beating from the UV rays this summer! Here’s how you can make sure that summer glow stays healthy, from the inside and out.
BY: DIANNA SINNI DILLON, RDN, LD
Endless sunlight, warmth, farmers markets, porch sitting, barbecues, vacations, outdoor adventures…we all want to be wherever the sun is. With rising temperatures and more activity outside in the sun, our tender winter skin is more susceptible to dehydration and overexposure to the sun.
Luckily for us, you can eat (yes, eat!) your way to healthy summer skin. Mother Nature is quite amazing, with the ability to provide us with all the fresh seasonal goodies to promote skin regeneration, prevent skin damage, and provide cooling hydration from the sun! Here’s what you need to know:
1. SPF, always.
Sorry folks, there is no edible substitute for sunscreen. Think of sunscreen as your best friend this summer! It’s absolutely the first line of defense against Mr. Sun’s harsh rays, and should be with you for every fun summery outdoor occasion. After all, the skin is your body’s largest organ, which also happens to be on the outside of your body, so treat it well!
It can almost seem like an oxymoron to lather up your skin with chemical-laden SPF, how much good could that be doing? Luckily, today there are many powerful SPF formulas that are also made from natural ingredients and with minimal harsh chemicals – luckily, the Environmental Working Group compiled this list of the top sunscreens that meet their criteria for sun protection, health hazards, and stability.
2. Eat your way hydrated.
Signs of dehydration can commonly be seen on our skin as shriveled or flaky and with poor elasticity when pinched. While water likely comes to mind first when you think about staying hydrated (as it very well should), the food we eat can also contribute up to 20% of our daily fluid needs. Many of our favorite summertime fruits and veggies are loaded with hydration – juicy melons, plump tomatoes, fresh picked berries, sweet peppers, mouth-watering stone fruits, and cooling cucumbers. For example, watermelon is about 92% water! As an added bonus, much of summer’s fresh produce provides a low-calorie, light and refreshing ways to reach our fluid needs.
3. Cook with carotenoids.
Carotenoids, a type of phytonutrient that provides the bright red, yellow, orange, and green pigmentation in our fresh fruits and vegetables, also protects our cells from free radical damage – including from the sun’s ultraviolet rays.
One type of carotenoid, lycopene, found in bright red vine-ripened tomatoes has been especially studied for its potential in protecting the skin from sunburn and UV damage; cooking tomatoes actually makes lycopene more bioavailable for our body to absorb. Plus, carotenoids can also provide our skin with a healthy sun-free glow of red and yellow hues. One study found people with a “carotenoid glow” were actually found to be more attractive than those with a darker sun tan.
4. Beat inflammation with Omega-3s.
Found in cold water fish like salmon and plant-based foods including walnuts, hemp or flax seeds, and smaller amounts in dark leafy greens, these anti-inflammatory fats make up much of our cell membranes. Omega-3s act as the barrier to harmful toxins, as well as an entry and exit points for nutrients to pass through. These fatty acids also provide the supple structure of our cell membranes, creating supple, hydrated, and smooth skin. Fat soluble vitamins like A, D, E, and K rely on dietary fats, such as omega 3’s, for storage and utilization in the body. Vitamin A is especially important for eye health (sunnies, please!), and Vitamin E is powerful antioxidant to protect against free radical damage to our skin.
5. Eat whole foods.
Eating whole, real, seasonal, fresh, local food can do your body a wonder of good by reducing the amount of inflammation and combatting free radical damage. As you start eating foods with real, nourishing ingredients, you can help achieve all of the other steps listed above without even trying.
Enjoy that natural glow!
HEADER IMAGE: XOCHI ROMERO
Dianna Sinni Dillon, RDN, LD is a Registered Dietitian based in Kansas City, MO with a passion for all things whole grain, green, and homegrown. She focuses on empowering and inspiring others to take charge of their wellness through simple plant-based recipes and science-powered advice.