The extra strong and extra long sunlight really brings us all to life this time of year, but don’t let yourself forget about the importance of sun protection. The American Academy of Dermatology recommends using sunscreen that offers broad-spectrum protection against UVA and UVB rays, has a sun protection factor of 30 or more, and is also water resistant.
Despite our good efforts to cover ourselves in sunscreen, the reality is that we often miss some spots, it comes off as we sweat, or we forget to reapply sooner than we think we should. Nothing really beats good old sunscreen (except maybe staying inside or under the shade), but changing your diet could make your sunscreen slip-ups a little less red and painful.
Foods that are rich in antioxidants can help the skin protect itself from sun damage. They’re certainly not a standalone solution for sun protection, but they’ll definitely boost your the look and overall health of your skin!
Salmon and other cold water species of fish are high in omega-3 fatty acids, which are known to protect the skin from free radical damage. According to the University of Maryland, people who took fish oil supplements showed less sun sensitivity when exposed to UV rays.
A little extra sun protection is just one more good reason to drink green tea. While it won’t block UV rays, it will fight free radicals and reduce inflammation, making it perfect to use for a protective boost alongside sunscreen.
Now’s the time to enjoy more summer salads with dark, leafy greens like spinach, arugula, swiss chard and other leafy varieties. Leafy greens are rich in antioxidants like lutein and zeaxanthin that not only protect skin from sun damage and decrease your risk of cancer, but also prevent wrinkles.
Red Bell Peppers
Any fruits or veggies that are bright red or orange (including carrots and tomatoes) contain beta-carotene, which the body can use to produce vitamin A to support the skin. Research has shown that people who spent 10 weeks chowing down on beta-carotene-rich foods had reduced reactions to sunburns.
Yes! As if you couldn’t find another reason to love dark chocolate more than you already do, you can be thankful for the flavonoids it contains that may help prevent skin damage from the sun. Like the red and orange fruits mentioned above, one study found that consuming dark chocolate on a long-term basis provided sun protection in women.
Warning: Sunburn Boosters
So, are there any foods that do the opposite? The answer to that is, yes. Citrus fruits in particular are known to contain compounds that increase skin sensitivity. And if you’re on any medication or antibiotics, these can also make you more prone to sunburn. For a more detailed list of sunburn culprits, check out these sunburn boosters identified by WebMD.
Keep in mind that sunscreen is still always your number one option. We may be able to help our skin out a bit by optimizing our diets, but in the end, sunscreen is always a must.