Summer is upon us now and no doubt you are keen to spend more time outside enjoying the sun. The thing is, over exposure to UVA and UVB radiation from sunlight is one of the leading causes of prematurely aged skin.
Apart from the immediate results of too much time in the sun, like burned and inflamed skin, long term results include wrinkles, sun spots and cancer.
So what can you do to protect yourself and still enjoy the Summer months ?
Well, apart from the obvious, which I’ll mention next, you can eat foods that help your skin cope better when exposed to more sunlight. In fact, 6 foods can really help you but lets start with the obvious ways to protect yourself.
Protection – slip, slop, slap.
The slip, slop, slap adage has almost passed into folklore in Australia, which has some of the highest incidences of skin cancer in the world. Slip on a shirt, slop on some sunscreen and slap on a hat. You should also add sunglasses to the mix too.
Limit the frequency and time spent in the sun.
Mad dogs and Englishmen go out in the midday sun said Noel Coward but even Englishmen are wising up to the dangers. The most damaging time to be in the sun is 12.00 to 2 in the afternoon. A better time to be outside is early morning or after 4 in the afternoon. If you must, or choose to be outdoors at midday (after all, lunchtime is a great time for a BBQ) ensure that there is plenty of shade to be under.
Consistency – don’t forget.
Get into the habit of following the above steps, particularly the protection point. Ensuring that you are adequately protected at social occasions will be of little use if you spend all week working outdoors.
Now onto the foods…
A cup of these red berries contains one and a half times the recommended dosage of vitamin C in a day. Everybody knows that eating foods that are rich in vitamin C is good in preventing wrinkles and age-related skin dryness.
These juicy vegetables (which are actually fruits even though they live in the vegetable aisles of the supermarket) get their red color from lycopene, an antioxidant compound that helps in making the skin smooth. In recent studies, those with higher lycopene content had smoother skin.Eating foods that are rich in lycopene is a way of protecting the skin from the harmful effects of the sun.
Other related studies show the reduction of skin reddening due to UV light exposure by 50 percent after consumption of 2 1/2 tablespoons of tomato paste together with the regular diet for 10 to 12 weeks. Other sources of lycopene are carrots, guava, watermelon, and red peppers.
Foods rich in soya such as tofu and natto are believed to help collagen development that helps in skin firming. Soya products are rich in isoflavones, a powerful antioxidant and phytoestrogen. The antioxidant component can help reduce free radical damage to skin cells that are caused by UVA and UVB radiation.
The phytoestrogen can mimic the affect of real estrogen. This is particularly pertinent to menopausal and post menopausal women who have a declining rate of estrogen. In these women, estrogen can help to create collagen and prevent the break down of existing collagen.
You should eat more fish. It is rich in omega-3, a certain type of unsaturated fat needed by the body. Because the human body cannot produce this vital fatty acid on its own, it must be obtained from other sources such as tuna, salmon, sardines, mackerel and herring. Omega-3 has EPA or eicosapentaenoic acid known to preserve collagen. The combination of all the omega-3 acids helps in preventing skin cancer and helps to make the skin look younger. Omega-3 is also good for the heart.
A cup of coffee may reduce the risk of acquiring skin cancer. Those who drink a single cup of caffeinated coffee are said to less likely develop non-melanoma skin cancer by at least 10 percent.
This debunks the myth that chocolates are the cause of acne growth. The truth is that some types of chocolates may be good for the skin.
Cocoa contains a certain flavonoid called epicatechin, a strong antioxidant that reduces UV radiation-induced skin erythema and photoaging. Women who drink epicatechin-rich cocoa beverages have finer skin texture. Epicatechin increases blood flow to the skin hence improving the supply of essential nutrients and oxygen, which are both important for maintaining a healthy skin.
Cocoa can also be found in dark chocolate.
Finally, water is also good for your skin on hot days. Stay hydrated by drinking plenty of water and have a mist spray to keep the top layer of your skin (face especially) moist and cool.