In the year 440 BC, a famous Greek physician and philosopher name Hippocrates said, “Let food be thy medicine and let thy medicine be food” It's curious to wonder what he would think of how we use foods now.
Summer has apparently arrived or at least the sun decided to create summer before its appointed time in my neck of the woods. As a result, many of us are sprinting for the pool, lakes and beaches to cool off and enjoy a little refreshing splash.
Annnnd a lot of you are still slathering on sunscreen. I mean, I suppose if you are doing so it’s to avoid any harmful damage from the sun.
Given that melanoma and other hideous skin cancers may pop up.
Except. If you think skin cancer comes from being in the sun too much you’re only right about 20% of the time. And I’m being generous with that figure.
While the sun has the capacity to cause damage to the skin, the answer isn’t spreading on layers of sunscreen, especially toxic sunscreen.
The best choice answer (I’m always down for the best option, thank you very much) is eating foods that increase your body’s natural sunscreen.
Conventional wisdom says to slather on some sunscreen, stay indoors when the sun is blazing and call it a day.
This only exacerbates the problem of skin cancer.
Wearing sunscreen blocks the body’s ability to produce Vitamin D, which is VITAL for hundreds or reactions in the body (including cancer prevention).
Most sunscreens contain toxic chemicals that can be MORE dangerous than moderate sun exposure.
Wearing sunscreen gives a false sense of security, so you end up staying out much longer than is reasonable, unknowingly exposing yourself to more UV rays.
Despite the push for more awareness about sun exposure, and the advice to use sun screen whenever we are outside, CASES of skin cancer, particularly melanoma, are rising dramatically.
There is a direct link to rising cancer rates and unnecessary precautions.
There is a better, simpler and less expensive way to prevent diseases caused by the sun or otherwise. Eating foods that increase your body's ability to produce its own natural sunscreen is by far the easiest thing you can choose to do.
Think calorically low and nutrient dense.
FOODS TO EAT
To begin with, let's start with looking at foods that are in season during the Summer and even just a little before. As I pursue the fresh section of Trader Joe's I am reminded round about every May that it's time to start chowing down on this season's offerings. Apricots, Raspberries, Strawberries, Blueberries, tomatoes and as Summer begins to really heat up- Watermelon. Not a fan, but it is cooling and good for the skin.
Leeks, artichokes, broccoli, kale, romaine, spinach, celery, parsley and cilantro are also ideal for preventing sun damage in addition to repairing previous damage. So if you're like me and haven't always known this, bulk up year round on these green leafs so that your skin is given the most optimal resources. Studies have shown that eating spinach, kale and Swiss chard may reduce a risk of squamous cell skin cancer by 50%.
Foods rich in lycopene are a must add to your diet. You’ve probably heard to eat tomato paste right? However that is totally unreasonable in the Summer because goodness, who wants to cook, let alone eat, a meal that contains tomato paste. Rather, add guavas, papaya, our friend the watermelon, red cabbage and red peppers to your shopping list. These are so refreshing and light to eat during those hot summer months. Plus, you'll be eating your sunscreen in the most delicious way!
Lycopene is an antioxidant which can enhance the skin’s natural defense against free radicals by 35%. Recent studies have shown that healthy women, aged 21-47, who ate foods containing 16 mg of lycopene every day for 12 weeks experienced significant protection against acute–and potentially long term–sun damage. Watermelon is especially rich in lycopene, and contains 40% more lycopene than tomatoes.
It feels a little too good to be true but it's not. Dark chocolate is among the top antioxidants for internal sunscreen support. The Lord does give His children all things for our bodies to be in good health, and to enjoy things. Dark chocolate or raw cacao: Dark chocolate (with at least 70% cacao) contains 4 times as much phenols and catechins as tea which are powerful battlers against damaging UV rays. Please note- milk chocolate does not have the same effect because milk prevents the absorption of polyphenols, or plant chemicals that have anti-inflammatory and antibacterial capabilities. Also, be aware of where your chocolate comes from. We can all do our part in human trafficking and slavery.
Drinking tea is another wonderful way to support the body for an internal sunscreening. Black, white and green teas contain polyphenols that help fight the battle against UV rays. However, green tea has more epigallocatechin–3–gallate (EGCG). Epigallocatechin Gallate (EGCG) Is the Most Effective Cancer Chemopreventive Polyphenol in Green
Tea. EGCG is the most abundant and powerful antioxidant in green tea for cancer prevention. You could even say EGCG is a multitasking chemical that slows down sun-related skin aging, prevents skin cancer, and inhibits tumor cells. What’s even more interesting is green tea contains L-theanine, an amino acid that helps you relax. It also means that it can stop the over production of the stress hormone, cortisol, from destroying the collagen fibers in your skin, so you can relish in your tight skin. All this collagen buying and consuming would be a thing of the past if we'd only give our bodies the right tools. Turns out- if we eat and drink that which God provided from the beginning, aging and sagging skin wouldn't be an issue.
In our family we found an antioxidant beverage years ago called Ningxia Red. This is a nutrient dense drink that has an incredible amount of benefits, including, supporting your body's natural ability to produce an internal sunscreen. The nutrients are Zeaxanthin and astaxanthin, which are carotenoids or pigment compounds responsible for the bright color of some fruits, vegetables and seafood. According to the NYU Langone Medical Center, carotenoids act as antioxidants, and a high intake of them may lower the risk of a variety of medical conditions, such as cancer and heart disease. Another word we use for Zeaxanthin in lutein. Lutein is abundant in anti-inflammatory, cancer-fighting foods including kale, broccoli and many other green vegetables, eggs yolks, citrus fruits and the woflberry which is the key ingredient in Ningxia Red. Loaded with lutein (Zeaxanthin), Ningxia Red is another simple way to support your body’s internal sunscreen.
Finally, in order to support your body's production of internal sunscreen, you must get an adequate amount of vitamin D. With all the talk of skin cancer and melanoma, we fear sun exposure, yet there are a plethora of benefits to sun exposure and plenty more sources say that a lack of sun exposure is more of an issue than the sun itself!
Optimizing your Vitamin D levels may help prevent as many as 16 different types of cancers, not just skin. Twenty minutes in the sun will give you adequate amounts of Vitamin D.
Added bonus- the sun rays hit your skin and react with cholesterol to help you metabolize vitamin D, which in turn protects you from too much sun. Turns out, God has given us such an beautiful way to harness the healing power of the sun.
Imagine. The trick is to strike a balance between getting enough natural sunlight to maximize your vitamin D production while at the same time protecting yourself from damage that occurs from overexposure to the sun.
In between outdoor time, bulk up on these Vitamin D rich plant based foods. Mushrooms, Almond milk, tofu (non-gmo, please and thank you), mangoes, sweet potatoes, avocados, and almonds.
A word on some things to avoid like the plague.
Vegetable and soybean oils, grains, processed foods, processed meats, processed dairy, sugar and if it comes in a box, stay away as much as possible, These have a high amount of inflammatory effects. And likely these may will deplete your internal sunscreen, causing you to sear like and Ahi tuna.
Scrutinize the ingredients, know where it came from. Know your farmer. In order to boost your internal sunscreen, it’s important to feed your cells, starting with what you’re able to control.
Fight it with your fork, my friend.