As lovely and warm as the sunny days are, all that sunshine can cause a lot of skin damage if you are not careful. Sun burns, premature wrinkles, brown “sun” spots, and even cancer are all at a much higher risk during the summer months. To help prevent these harmful side effects of enjoying the sunny days, it is important to always cover up. Remember what you mom always told you before you left the house?
- Put on sunscreen and reapply frequently. It is often recommended to use SPF 30 or higher and to reapply every couple of hours, more if you are in water or sweating a lot. Key areas to make sure you apply the sunscreen are the face, especially the nose, ears, hair line, and your shoulders and neck area.
- Wear your sunglasses. Protect your eyes from the harmful rays by wear UVA/UVB tinted sunglasses. Not only will your eyes be thankful, but so will the skin around your eyes. Who wants to have crow’s feet from squinting and too much sun exposure?
- Sport a hat. Wear hats to protect your scalp and help give shade to your face. Tightly woven hats are better than a straw hat, as they limit the amount of sun that can get through.
- Find shade. Finding refuge from the heat and direct sunlight is always good. Not just to help cool you down, but to give your skin a break from the harmful rays. Find a nice shady tree, sit under an awning, or pop open that umbrella to get a break, especially if you are spending hours outside.
- Time it right. The sun is at its most intense levels between 10am and 4pm. If you plan on going out during that time, keep the trips short and make sure you apply that sunscreen. For longer outings and exercising, plan to go out either in the morning before 10am or in the evenings, preferably after 4pm when the rays are less potent. Still remember to use sunscreen, especially if you are planning on spending a longer amount of time outside in the sun.
Consuming a healthy diet that is full of natural sun blocking antioxidants will help ensure your body has the best defense against skin cancer. Add carotenoids for their compounds that give vegetables their vibrant and deep colors and acts as a natural sunscreen to plants. These compounds help fight free radicals, that contribute to problems like premature aging and can be a product of unprotected sun exposure. Here is a list of some sun protecting foods that you should add to your daily consumption this summer:
- Omega-3 Fatty Acids. Salmon and Red Snapper are both great options, as well as shell fish. They have anti-inflammatory powers and can help protect cells from free radical damage.
- Vibrantly colored and dark vegetables and fruits. Think tomatoes, red and orange peppers, carrots, watermelon, red apples, black berries, blueberries, as well as spinach, parsley, basil, and rosemary. The darker and more vibrant, the better, as they tend to produce the most antioxidants. Most also contain a higher level of beta-carotenes, lycopene, and lutein, all of which help protect your skin from cancer.
- Juicy fruits. Think citrus and juicy. Oranges, strawberries, and kiwi. They are packed with Vitamin C and flavonoids to help prevent the development of cancer.
- Nuts and Seeds. Toss a handful of almonds or sunflower seeds into the mix as well. They are great sources of healthy fats and Vitamin E. Olive oil is another good source to add onto your meals.
- Chocolate. Dark chocolate to be more precise. Keep it to 65% or higher and indulge in your chocolate fix while boosting those antioxidants and skin protecting benefits.
- Teas. Green and black teas are packed with polyphenols that can help stop the development of cancer and decreases inflammation from the inside out.