Finally, the first day of a long-awaited Summer! After a long Winter and cool wet Spring, I am so ready to lay out and soak up as much sun as I can get. Because of the sun’s skin-damaging cancer causing UV rays, sunscreen becomes a major topic of conversation among healthcare professionals and product marketing for summer skin care products. But did you know that the sunscreen you are using could be doing more damage and harm to your health than good? Now I’m not saying sunscreen is a bad thing, I’m just saying not all sunscreen is created equal and that there are other safer alternatives to sun protection that you might want to consider as the days get even hotter and sunnier.I believe it is necessary and I’t has also saved many people’s lives by aiding in blocking harmful UV rays that could have damaged your skin and eventually lead to skin cancer. I’n my “ sun worshiper” defense there are just a few things to consider when it comes to sunscreen.
THE UGLY SIDE OF SUNSCREEN
LACKING FDA RESEARCH AND STRICT REGULATION– Did you know that the first handful of active ingredients approved by the FDA for UVA/UVB sun protection were never actually tested for their effect on your health? When sun safety started to become a topic of conversation and concern in the 1970’s, the FDA “grandfathered in” the primary ingredients already being used as a base for approved ingredients in sunscreens. The FDA has now made it extremely difficult for new improved (and safer) ingredients to be evaluated and approved for use. According to the EWG, the FDA has never reviewed any of evidence of potential hazards of sunscreen fillers and their relation to cancer and some ingredients when applied topically and are activated and absorbed into your bloodstream act like estrogen and can have a negative effect/ disrupt your hormones. Active ingredient chemical fillers you want to be conscious of and try to avoid this summer include: oxybenzone, avobenzone, octisalate, octocrylene, homosalate, and octinoxate.
HEALTH CONCERNS– These active ingredients that are FDA approved and used in sunscreens been linked to malignant melanoma. In the 2014 study published by the Environmental Working Group (EWG), they evaluated over 257 brands and 2,000 types of sunscreens on the market. They found that over 75% of the different types of sunscreens evaluated contained extremely toxic chemicals linked to increased cancer risk and other health issues. This is in part due to the absorption of the chemicals into your blood stream when you apply them to your skin. There are also other chemicals in sunscreen that actually are activated by the sun’s heat and UV rays and can release skin-damaging free radicals causing skin irritation and allergic reactions. A little side note to that point, my younger brother (actually turning 25 this weekend!) was placed in the intensive care unit (ICU) for 31 days in an induced coma at the age of 4 due to a life-threatening allergic reaction to ingredients in the sunscreen he used. Who even knew that was possible??
VITAMIN D DEFICIENCIES- With our busy lives, inside working through the summers, and when outside we lather on sunscreen and protective clothing never truly giving our skin enough time in the sun. We need about 15 minutes a day of the sun’s rays in order to produce vitamin D. Vitamin D is extremely important for your overall health by promoting calcium absorption, maintaining normal calcium and phosphate levels, promoting bone/cell growth, and reducing inflammation!
So now to the part that I love!
Just like everything else, instead of always trying to protect and treat skin topically it’s so important to take preventative steps supporting your skin from the inside out. Our skin is the largest organ we have and that being said, we should treat and support it just like we do our other internal organs, such as our liver, gut, and heart, through the foods we eat. Even though our skin isn’t internal like the rest of our organs, it makes it that much more important to eat your way to skin health and protection. Arming yourself from the inside out is the first step in natural skin care. If you think about it, a sunburn or skin damage is a inflammatory response causing inflammation of the skin and surrounding tissue. To treat and prevent this inflammation from reoccurring, just like your other internal organs, you want to focus your diet on reducing skin inflammation by eating foods high in antioxidants, which are anti-inflammatory by nature, as well as Omega 3 fatty acids, also anti-inflammatory and aid in skin health and repair. Below are a few of my super food favorites for summertime fun in the sun, without the burn:
SKIN PROTECTION DIET
RAW CACAO- Raw cacao is one of the healthiest antioxidant rich super foods around. Not only is it beneficial to all bodily functions and overall health, it’s high content of naturally occurring flavanols provide profound SPF protection against harmful UV free radicals. Make sure your eating the real raw cacao in order to reap the sun protective benefits from chocolate. If you don’t know quite where to find this, our naturally j. raw Cacao and Sea Salt macaroons would be the perfect solution this summer! hummmm… maybe my new slogan should be “A macaroon a day keeps skin damage and cancer at bay….”??
NUTS & SEEDS- Hemp seeds, chia seeds, flax seeds, and walnuts are all rich sources of omega 3 fatty acids. Making them an easy and convenient snack and sun protection source this summer on the beach! Our Almond Coconut butter has the additional benefits of hemp, chia, and flax and can be eaten anytime any where!
STRAWBERRIES- Hi in vitamin C, strawberries are extremely beneficial in blocking the development of skin cancer cells. After you experience skin damage, your body produces free radicals in response to the inflammation of your skin. vitamin C aids in destroying these free radicals, therefore aiding in skin repair, protection, and decreasing your overall risk in skin cancer. Our Strawberry Beet Root macaroons would make the perfect afternoon snack or dessert after a long day in the sun!
TOMATOES- Rich in an antioxidant called lycopene, tomatoes have been statistically proven to prevent long-term UV radiation damage. The redder the better!
In addition to these there are many other options that are just as beneficial in protecting and repairing your skin this summer. Just keep it fresh, local, and of course tasty! In addition to eating these super foods, if your looking for a few non-toxic sunscreen options this summer I recommend mineral based or organic sunscreens from Goddess Garden Organics, Life Extensions, and Kiss My Face.
DETOX & REPAIR
Along with supporting and arming your skin against harmful UV induced free radicals, its also very important to support your body’s natural detox and repair. When we consume foods to protect and destroy the harmful free radicals caused by skin damage, those free radicals need to be eliminated from your body in order to repair and reduce inflammation. This can be done by supporting your digestive system and staying hydrated. I recommend drinking warm lemon water with a tablespoon of apple cider vinegar, some raw honey and a splash of cayenne pepper in the morning before you consumer anything. Also, sipping on electrolyte infused lemon water all day is a great way to increase hydration, skin repairing vitamin C, and support your digestion and elimination of harmful free radicals. I recommend doing another apple cider vinegar shot in the PM before dinner until your on a regular elimination (if you know what I mean…) schedule. This will not only aid in ridding your body of the bad stuff but will also increase your body’s absorption of all the good supporting nutrients your consuming while eating your way to sun protection.