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Can Some Foods Help Protect You From the Sun?

When it comes to skincare and safety, nothing is more important than sunscreen. But there are also a few easy ways to boost your skin’s own protective properties in addition to sunscreen use. Could some food sources help prevent skin cancer, sunburn, and premature aging? Some studies suggest that, while sunscreen is still completely necessary, certain superfood choices might help in the fight against sun damage.

Are there any concerns with common sunscreens?

We’re almost hard wired to put on sunscreen every day to prevent sunburn and other sun damage — and that’s good advice! However, many popular sunblock brands get their protectant power from chemicals like oxybenzone and octinoxate; and that’s a matter of concern for some consumers. Some ingredients in chemical sunscreen might leach nutrients from coral in the ocean and disrupt the development of several types of aquatic life. Since so much waste winds up in the ocean, many consider this issue a major concern for wildlife and the planet as a whole.

Health concerns have also been raised about some forms of sunblock. Some experts are concerned that chemical sunblock ingredients could be related to issues with the endocrine system. Your endocrine system is important because it influences all of the hormonal processes in the body. There are various types of sunscreen available, including mineral-based sunscreens. What’s most important? No matter what type of sunscreen you decide is right for you, it’s important to use as directed for maximum sun protection. The FDA still approves chemical sunscreen for safe use.

Could food actually provide some sun protection?

A number of studies indicate that the foods we eat may have nutritional benefits that include a degree of protection against sun damage. While healthy foods are never a substitute for sunscreen use, they might provide benefits for your skin in the sun in addition to sunscreen. For instance, tomatoes contain lycopene, which has been shown to make some individuals less susceptible to sunburn. In one study, people who ate tomato paste daily for 10 weeks suffered fewer sunburns than the control group.

What other foods might boost skin health? Nuts are high in omega-3 fatty acids, which keep skin healthy. Blueberries, cacao powder and leafy greens provide antioxidants, which may also help your skin repair itself after a sunburn. Although this link is not yet ironclad, there is hardly a downside to eating more fruits and vegetables — you’ll gain extra vitamins and minerals while also potentially gaining some valuable skin benefits!

What kind of sunscreen is right for me?

Diet alone is never enough to provide adequate sun protection. To prevent skin cancer and other sun-related damage, it is advised to always use some type of sunscreen. The right option for you depends on personal preference. Some people prefer mineral sunscreens that include titanium dioxide or zinc, potentially carrying less risk of environmental or health issues. Others prefer chemical-based sunscreens as they are still approved by the FDA. Your best option should be based on your own research and preferences for your family.

On especially hot or sunny days, many long-sleeve rash guards offer protection against the sun while swimming without making you feel overheated. You can also protect yourself by staying out of the sun during peak hours and wearing a wide-brimmed hat to shade vulnerable skin from the sun’s rays.

By using a combination of your preferred sunscreen option and a skin-healthy diet, you can keep yourself safe from the sun in the short and long term. Visit your local MedPost Urgent Care if you have questions about skin concerns this summer.