BE HAPPY IN YOUR SKIN AND PROTECT IT FROM WITHIN WITH SPECIFIC FOODS THAT MAY PREVENT SUN DAMAGE.
Even more unfortunate than a wilted banana left in a sweltering South Florida car is how the sun can damage our skin. Though we need sunshine (approximately 10 minutes per day) to synthesize Vitamin D we obtain through food, it’s easy to overdose on sun in the summer. While visiting your board-certified dermatologist should be your first line of defense, there are ways you can eat and drink to help fight the cellular damage sun provokes. Back to that Vitamin D — you’ll find it in foods you probably don’t consume on a regular basis, like Japanese mushrooms (not portobellos/buttons), oysters, sardines, beef liver, and cod liver oil. Some people find these sources a bit more realistic: wild salmon, egg yolks, and fortified dairy products (yogurt, kefir, cheese, etc.).
You can also stock up on foods that fight inflammation (which the sun causes) by ingesting a lot of vegetables, fruits, legumes, nuts, and seeds. Aim for at least five servings of veggies (1 cup raw, ½ cup cooked) and two servings of fruit (1 cup) per day. You should consume 1-2 servings of nuts/seeds per day, but mind your portions to two tablespoons at a time (flaxseeds, almonds, chia seeds, walnuts, Brazilian nuts, and all other seeds have health merit!).
Remember that bright colors = vitamins = antioxidants (aka phytochemicals – beneficial chemicals unique to plants); so, eat that rainbow of fruit + veggies. Think strawberries (tannins), oranges (vitamin C), carrots (beta carotene), pomegranates (ellagic acid), kale, chard, radish, avocado (Vitamin E), red grapes (quercetin), tomatoes (lycopene), and watermelon (lycopene). Green tea is another major source of a specific phytochemical, EGCG, which may also block sun damage along with its tannic acid that can calm inflammation from the sun. Now is the time to enjoy the exquisite South Florida fruits (shop local!), which contain whopping amounts of Vitamin C — your collagen is your skin’s BFF.
Another health risk during summer? Dehydration. Fruits and vegetables are mostly water, so consuming a lot of them can help prevent a loss of fluid. Water-based fruit and veggies, like watermelon, cucumbers, and grapes, are especially helpful here.
Dietitians aren’t dermatologists, but we can certainly recommend you wear a hat, keep an aerosolized sunscreen in your car (you should reapply every few hours throughout the day since you’re exposed to the sun in your car!) and don’t omit your neck area when applying sunscreen.
By MONICA AUSLANDER MORENO, MS, RDN
Essence Nutrition, essencenutritionmiami.com