The question was inspired by this study link text
where cocoa flavanols were shown to increase protection from sun damage. Are there any other foods that would help do this? I am very pale and I'd like to avoid using sunscreen as much as possible without getting burned. I've been trying to get a base tan, but if I could protect myself from future wrinkles that'd be pretty good too.
"In Dr Sharon Moalem’s book The ‘ Survival of the Sickest ‘ we learn about one negative side to wearing sunglasses. When your skin color changes through exposure to the sun it’s because of melanin, a skin pigment created by the pituitary gland. The Melanin prevents the skin burning by absorption of harmful ultra-violet light. However, the pituitary gland can only determine how much melanin to produce via signals it gets from the eye. When the eye determines that it’s sunny the pituitary gland creates more melanin to protect the skin. Wearing sunglasses may lead to unnecessary sunburn because the pituitary gland doesn’t produce sufficient melanin. Next time you go out leave your sunglasses off for a short period and give your skin a break."
Ways to Prevent Wrinkles and Skin Damage:
I just read the book. Pretty interesting.
Carotenoids (beta-carotene, lycopene, and many others) have been shown to be photoprotective, specifically when located in the skin. There's preliminary evidence confirming that increasing your dietary intake of carotenoids increases your skin resistance to photodamage. This makes sense, considering we've long known that carotenoids tend to collect in the skin when there are high levels in the blood (like when people eat so much beta-carotene that their skin takes on an orange tinge). See the study below:
Extracts of several ferns (particularly Polypodium leucotomos) have been shown to produce a significant "internal sunscreen" effect when taken orally. Formulations are on the market, but they're not inexpensive... and I'm not convinced they're any better than carotenoids from the diet. Some studies below:
I can second the benefit of vitamin D, which has plenty of evidence behind it.
I believe eating foods high in vit A is supposed to help. I say "I believe" because I'm hoping I'm remebering correctly (I'm wiped and my brain was ready for bed a while ago)- eat lots of liver for sure. Don't forget to stay hydrated- you'll burn so much more easily if you're dehydrated. Also, St. John's Wort oil is great sunburn protection that works better the more you use it.
*Tried to add this under the original question but could for some reason:
I mention SJW oil below but I wanted to chime in here and share my plans for this summer. I'm fair skinned as well, freckeled even. I've used SJW successfully for the past 2 years. This year I plan to infuse coconut oil with SJW AND rosemary(also protective against radiation because it contains a compund called rosmarinic(?) acid). To do this I plan on using fresh herb (stuff a jar with the fresh SJW flowering tops and fresh rosemary, then fill it with just melted coconut oil, let sit somewhere warm enough to kep it liquid for 3-6 weeks) BUT WHILE I'm waiting for that batch, I'll just make some rosemary coconut oil that way and add some already prepared SJW oil purchased form the store. Sorry for the long, maybe useless to you, explanation. :P
So what I've found:
It seems like quite a few plant compounds help with photoprotection. I'll continue eating a wide variety.
Thanks for the answers!
I read in a science mag, hiii - big nerd here ::waves::, that lycopene in tomatoes and phenols in olive oil were valuable as antioxidants and that they gave added protection to the skin. I kind of would think then.. that anything high in phytonutrients would protect the skin in addition to vitamins c d and e. Eating your sunblock I guess :) Anyone have thoughts on selenium? For me, I did things 100% natural this year and just slowly built up my base and haven't burned. I'm blond and blue eyed but with olive undertones so I tan easily. I started with about 20-minutes a day and now can be out for a good couple of hours with no burning whatsoever. Extra Virgin Coconut Oil is something that I've heard many use :) Happy tanning!
I am also very interested in this because I do a lot of activity in the sun and spend close to ten hours in it. Pre-Paleo I was obsessed with putting on sunscreen because I feared premature aging of the skin and skin cancer. Now I just go out with a cap, I'd still like to avoid skin damage though. Hope to get some good answers.
Edit: I have also heard that lycopene, found in cooked tomatoes, protects against sun damage.
The best protection is a slowly built up tan. Go out in the mid-day sun for max UVB(tan maker) and tan for 10-20 minutes. Do this everyday and after awhile you'll have a nice tan without ever having to get burned.
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