...and your tan. We found out how to strengthen your defences through the right nutrition and by giving your kitchen cupboards a summer makeover
Can you protect yourself from the sun from the inside out? With the spotlight on skin cancer, sun damage and premature ageing now being shone brighter than ever, ensure your sun care does more by supplementing it with the right foods.
“The best way to boost your sun care through nutrition is to increase antioxidants and minerals through a range of colourful fruits and vegetables,” says nutritionist and Get The Gloss Expert Gabriela Peacock . Teamed with our pick of the best sun creams , you’ll have all you need to duke it out with the dark side of the sun’s rays.
Here are the vitamins, minerals and other skin saving goodies to be on the lookout for and the grocery essentials no shopping list should be seen without this summer (and the rest of the year too).
Good sun protection needn’t mean compromising your tan. Much like some of our favourite sunscreens, it is possible to have the best of both worlds with zero burning involved. “The secret to achieving a beautiful, even suntan lies within natural, chemical substances called carotenoids,” explains Gabriela. “Carotenoids contain antioxidant properties that protect the body from harmful free radicals. These can be found in foods such as melon, watermelon, peaches, apricots, carrots, peppers, butternut squash, pumpkins, sweet potatoes and tomatoes.
“As a source of antioxidants and vitamin A, carotenoids are critical to the photosynthetic process, and protect plants or organisms from damage by light. By consuming plants or organisms that contain these high pigments, you gain a similar protective benefit yourself! Which is why carotenoid-rich foods are so important when protecting skin from within, while a high factor SPF protects skin on the outside.”
2. Vitamin C
A sun-fighting all-rounder when it comes to looking and feeling your best, ensure you give your weekly menu a generous dose of this vital vitamin to give skin an anti-ageing boost. “Vitamin C is a powerful antioxidant, reducing free radical damage to the skin and plays a role in the synthesis of collagen,” says Gabriela. “External and internal stress from the sun’s radiation can lead to free radical damage which encourages ageing of the skin.”
So what should you stock up on?“It is easily found in fruit and vegetables, especially citrus, kiwi, peppers and berries. Blend together a tropical fruit smoothie for a vitamin C boost,” recommends Gabriela.
3. Vitamin E
“Another potent antioxidant protecting against free radical damage, make sure you get enough Vitamin E if you love the sun,” says Gabriela.
The best vitamin-E rich foods? “Search out whole grains and snack on nuts and seeds, not to mention avocados and asparagus. Avocado on rye bread is a delicious light snack option,” suggests Gabriela.
4. Vitamin A / Beta-carotene
Can we buy another vowel? Our round trip through the alphabet sees us go back to the very beginning to explore vitamin A in more detail. “Vitamin A is found in animal products but its precursor beta-carotene is found in lesser amounts in orange coloured fruits and vegetables such as squash, sweet potatoes and carrots,” explains Gabriela.
“Vitamin A is known to protect the skin against skin cancer and help the body produce sebum – an oil that serves as a natural conditioner to help the appearance of the skin. As well as the orange fruit and vegetables, include some dark green vegetables such as kale, broccoli and chard,” she adds. We’re adding them to our shopping lists as we speak...
Another vital nutrient, selenium acts as a palatable powerhouse in the health stakes in both the short and long-term. “Selenium is a powerful antioxidant. It works alongside other antioxidants such as vitamins E and C in protecting against skin cancer, sun damage and age spots,” explains Gabriela.
An easy way to boost your selenium levels lies in a simple snack time swap. “One way to boost your intake is to eat Brazil nuts,” recommends Gabriella. “Just four nuts will provide the recommended daily amount (RDA). Mix Brazil nuts with other seeds rich in vitamin E as a snack or salad sprinkle. Other good sources are fish, shellfish, eggs, wheat germ, tomatoes and broccoli.”
6. Essential fatty acids
Essential for good reason, build up your omega-3 artilleries to build up your defences. “They are termed essential because the body cannot make them on its own,” says Gabriela. “They support skin repair and the production of collagen which promotes elasticity, improving the texture of the skin and moisturising dry and dehydrated skin.
So what are our EFA goals? “Try to eat oily fish at least twice a week. Salmon is particularly delicious baked with lemon and chilli or grab a box of fresh sushi. Great plant sources include flax and hempseeds and nuts - especially walnuts.”
In terms of superfoods, it turns out that gold is the new green . Used in Ayurvedic medicine for centuries to address a multitude of ailments, it’s seen a resurgence in recent times due to its long list of benefits ranging from overcoming digestive problems to its anti-microbial properties. “Turmeric inhibits inflammation and is packed with antioxidants to combat the stress caused from sun exposure.” Talk about a sunshine spice of the highest order...