Natural Protection from the Sun
Coloradans spend a great deal of time outdoors year-round and need to be hyper-vigilant about protecting their skin from the damaging effects of sun exposure. Colorado is one of the top ten sunniest states in the United States.
During the summer months, sunscreen becomes a hot topic, so it’s worth considering what you are choosing to put on your skin. Dr. Nicole Lewis, ND, recommends reading labels to protect skin from toxic chemicals. According to the Environmental Working Group (EWG), some sunscreen ingredients raise concerns due to their potential health and environmental effects.
Here are a few commonly mentioned ingredients to avoid:
- Oxybenzone (Benzophenone-3): Oxybenzone is a widely used chemical sunscreen ingredient that absorbs UV rays. Concerns have been raised about its potential endocrine-disrupting properties, as it can mimic estrogen in the body. It has also been detected in water sources, raising environmental concerns.
- Octinoxate (Octyl Methoxycinnamate): Octinoxate is another popular UV-absorbing ingredient. However, it has been found to disrupt hormone function in animal studies and has been detected in waterways and marine life.
- Retinyl Palmitate (Vitamin A Palmitate): Retinyl palmitate is a form of vitamin A that is sometimes added to sunscreens for its antioxidant properties. However, studies have suggested that when exposed to sunlight, it can potentially generate free radicals and cause damage to the skin, raising concerns about its safety.
- Homosalate: Homosalate is a chemical UV filter that helps sunscreen absorb UV rays. It is known to be a weak endocrine disruptor and has been detected in human breast milk, suggesting potential exposure risks.
There are safer, more natural options for sun protection. Explore using sunscreens with mineral-based ingredients, such as zinc oxide, which create a physical barrier to block UV rays. These ingredients are considered safer and are less likely to penetrate the skin or cause hormone disruption.
In addition to sunscreen, there are other sun protection measures to consider. It is possible to protect your skin by making nutritional changes to your diet. Here, Dr. Mary Rondeau ND gives a few nutritional tips to keep your family safe from the sun’s damage, naturally:
- Consume foods rich in Vitamin C: Vitamin C is a potent antioxidant that helps protect the skin from sun damage. Where to find it: Foods like citrus fruits (oranges, lemons, grapefruits), strawberries, kiwi, and bell peppers are excellent sources of vitamin C. How to use it: Try bell peppers for hummus instead of chips or add strawberries to yogurt and granola. SOURCE
- Include foods high in Vitamin E: Vitamin E is another antioxidant that can help protect the skin from UV damage. Where to find it: A good sources of vitamin E include nuts and seeds (such as almonds, sunflower seeds), spinach, and avocado. How to use it: Almond butter, banana, cocoa powder, date, and nut milk smoothies- YUM! SOURCE
- Incorporate foods with beta-carotene: Beta-carotene is a precursor to vitamin A and acts as a natural sunscreen. Where to find it: Foods rich in beta-carotene include carrots, sweet potatoes, spinach, kale, and apricots. How to use it: Carrot juice can be a refreshing summer beverage! SOURCE
- Consume foods with lycopene: Lycopene is an antioxidant that can help protect the skin from sunburn. Where to find it: Tomatoes, watermelon, pink grapefruit, and guava are all good sources of lycopene. How to use it: Summer would not be summer without sticky fingers and faces from so much fresh watermelon! If you have too much watermelon, add the cut-up chunks to a blender with a few leaves of mint for a refreshing summer drink. SOURCE
- Increase intake of green tea: Green tea contains catechins, which are powerful antioxidants that can help protect the skin from UV damage. Where to find it: Loose-leaf or bagged green tea. How to use it: Drinking green tea regularly can provide some photoprotection for the skin. Summer sun tea is one of my favorites. Add 2 organic green tea bags to water in a glass quart jar, and put it outside in the sun for the day. You can drink green tea warmed from the sun, or put it in the fridge for a cool down. Try a flavor combination by adding a peach tea bag to the mix, for example. SOURCE
While antioxidants can offer some level of protection against UV exposure, it’s still important to use a natural sunscreen, wear protective clothing, and limit sun exposure during peak hours for optimal skin health and sun protection.
Want to know more about integrative ways to find wholeness? We offer a variety of mental health tools to assist you – including nutritional suggestions. If you live in the Northern Colorado/ Ft. Collins area and would like to learn more about the innovative programs at Wholeness Center, please call 970-221-1106 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.