As we edge toward summer, I get a lot of confused clients when it comes to dealing with sun exposure. I don’t blame them; there is a lot of contradicting information. My bottom line is this: Food is our first line of defense. What we eat can have a big impact on how our skin manages the sun. Eating certain fruits and veggies give us the raw materials to build our own sun protection, from the inside out.
Here are some tips and tricks I use during the summer months:
Throw some cruciferous veggies in your morning green juice or smoothie.
Foods in this family include broccoli, kale, Brussels sprouts, and cauliflower. They are known for being high in an antioxidant called sulforaphane, which helps protect the body cells against UV radiation. Cauliflower is also a great source of histidine, which stimulates healthy production of urocanic acid, a natural photoprotective. I’ve recently been enjoying cauliflower in my smoothies! It gives them a nice creamy texture—I add these foods in wherever I can!
Add some citrus to your water.
Not only does this make hydrating a little tastier, citrus fruits, like oranges, lime, and lemon, provide a ton of vitamin C. Vitamin C works as an antioxidant, fighting off free radicals, keeping skin healthy and cancer-free. Pack a few slices in your water bottle, too.
Enjoy a sun-savvy fruit salad.
Dice up some watermelon, papaya, and apricot. Toss together in a bowl with pomegranate seeds, a squeeze of citrus, and you have a powerful team on your hands. Not only is it packed with vitamin C, the orange fruits contain high doses of the antioxidant carotenoids. These plant chemicals reduce the effects of UVB radiation. Watermelon contains lycopene, which prevents sunburn and skin cancer while pomegranate seeds strengthen the skin’s upper layer. For bonus sun-protecting points, sprinkle on some chia seeds—this adds a little crunch and a source of omega-3s, which reduce inflammation and act as an additional protectant.
Work spirulina into your diet.
I consume spirulina daily for all sorts of reasons! When it comes to sun protection, spirulina has been shown to protect skin and eyes from harmful UV radiation. Try it in your smoothie or green juice.
Have a little dark chocolate every day.
Tough sell, I know! Make sure it’s at least 70 percent cacao, though, and the darker the better. Dark chocolate contains four times the amount of antioxidants found in green tea! Look for good-quality, organic sources.