Looking for a Natural Sunscreen? Start Eating More Sun-Protective Foods

Eating the right foods will help you with sun protection, which, as we know, is important if we want to prevent early skin aging (read my post here on what causes skin to age).

There are many foods that carry the right nutrients to help our immune system. This I see as a way to protect yourself from the inside out.

Free radicals and oxidative stress are a known aging cause (if you’d like to know more about this see my post here on antixoidants). I’m not gonna go into technical details but let’s just say that certain foods will help out and become a perfect combo for any anti-age skincare routine.

What you’re looking for is foods that are packed with antioxidants, beta-glucan, polyphenols, Omega-3 and carotenoids. These superfoods will help when combating sun damaging rays. to aid in battling ultraviolet damage.

What you’re looking for is foods that are packed with antioxidants, beta-glucan, polyphenols, essential fatty acids and carotenoids. These superfoods will help when combating sun damaging rays. to aid in battling ultraviolet damage.

Sun Rays are the N.1 Offender When it Comes to Aging Skin

Our dermis is composed of fibroblasts which secrete collagen and elastin. Collagen and elastin support and give elasticity to our skin (the dermis is the hard connective tissue used to make leather, so you get an idea). Pull your cheek and see how elastic and bouncy it feels (or at least it should although with age we lose more and more of the elasticity).

All connective tissue is composed of structural proteins (collagen & elastin), specialised proteins (fibrillin, fibronectin, laminin) and proteoglycans (formed of glycosaminoglycans – GAGs, also known as ‘hyaluronic acid’, which you probably know).

We need to take care of the protein collagen as it happens to be the most abundant protein in our skin’s connective tissue. The loss of the collagen is what causes the typical characteristic of what looks like skin that is aging. Elastin is the responsible for the elastic tissues to be able to stretch although it also takes an important part in the health of our cells. When these fibres change over time it is believed that they could be the cause of photo aged skin.

Photoaging is believed to be the main cause of our aging skin. Prolonged sun exposure will create cell damage. Inflammation and oxidative stress from overexposure to the sun rays will start the deteriorating process of our skin cells. We will experience transepidermal water loss (TEWL) and degradation of the keratin amongst other things. Our skin will start to appear saggy, dry and with hyperpigmentation spots or areas (I live in a very sunny area and keeping the sun at bay is not an easy task. I’ve started to see some spots at times which do go with ongoing care of my skin).

Being in this hot, sunny weather day in day out is forcing me to look at systematic and effective ways at preventing my skin from early aging. Our body does have natural protection factor but I, of course, use daily sunscreen which I apply a few times throughout the day (I NEVER miss doing this).

This is a great skin strategy, as we all know, but I want to takle the problem from every angle. And it looks like ‘from the inside’ os a good strategy to contemplate.

Combat the Rays from the Inside as Well as the Outside

Let’s find the superfoods and see if we can add them to our diet or, if we already take them, know that they’re helping combat the sun rays from the inside out.

There are some foods I already take but there are many I could integrate into my diet. I find this exciting and will slowly add them to my meals as I know these things work best when we take the time to do them properly. Summer is approaching and the sun can get very strong over here.

I’ll make notes next to the foods in terms of how much I like/dislike them. It makes me feel better when I see other people disliking certain healthy foods, that way I don’t feel so bad about it. Hey, we can’t be great at everything!

1. Foods High in Antioxidants

This list from Healthline will help you. I’ve added a note next to each food to let you know how I feel about it because sometimes it is not easy! : )

  • Dark chocolate (not so keen!)
  • Pecans (yep, like them)
  • Blueberries (Hate them… : ( )
  • Strawberries (Not keen at all!)
  • Artichokes (Yep, doable!)
  • Goji Berries (Not keen, no)
  • Raspberries (Nope)
  • Kale (Yes!! Love it!)
  • Red Cabbage (Yep! Thumbs up!!)
  • Beans (Depends on the mood…)
  • Beetroot (I have my days…)
  • Spinach (Yes, I can have it weekly for sure)

** Ok, so you can see I personally dislike berries in general but love cabbage, kale and spinach. I’ll make an effort to eat more berries…

2. Foods Rich in Beta-Glucan

Beta-glucan is a viscous fiber, which forms a gel in our digestive tract. Easy to see which foods are rich in beta-glucan (the below list is from SFGate).

  • Oats (can have them regularly, definitely not every day)
  • Barley (yes, I can make salads with barley)
  • Shiitake mushrooms (OMG, really?? LOVE THEM!!!)
  • Reishi mushrooms (SAME!!)
  • Seaweed (yes, can integrate it into my diet)
  • Algae (same as above)

So, I’m in luck, in general I do love most of the above. The thought of ‘lining’ my stomach feels good to me, I’ve never have had problems with these types of foods. My body craves them regularly.

3. Foods Rich in Polyphenols

Polyphenols are packed with antioxidants. Here’s Healthline’s list of foods rich in polyphenols:

  • Cloves (great)
  • Blackcurrants (oh, no!)
  • Plums (dislike them)
  • Sweet cherries (ok)
  • Apples (yep, love them in salads)
  • Nuts (hazelnuts, walnuts, almonds, pecans, etc) – (yep, love love love!)
  • Vegetables (artichokes, chicory, red onion, spinach) – (I’m in!)
  • Soy, tempeh, soybean, soybean sprouts (love them but don’t eat them enough)
  • Black and green tea (yes, can’t live without black tea)

Can do all of the above without a problem!

4. Foods Rich in Omega-3

I’m going to have a look at foods rich in Omega-3 essential fatty acid.

  • Mackerel (I have this every now and then)
  • Salmon (I do eat salmon often)
  • Cod liver oil (Yes, also eat this often)
  • Herring (I also have this every now and then)
  • Oysters (Not easy to find at times plus the thought of eating them live is less appealing over time!)
  • Sardines (I do have this often I must say)
  • Anchovies (I have to feel like eating anchovies, usually have them in pizza but not often)
  • Caviar (ooh, it’s been a long time!)
  • Flax seeds (will be getting a bag next time I go shopping)
  • Chia seeds (Have never been keen but will start giving them a try)
  • Walnuts, soybeans (they’ve featured in other lists)

I do have blue fish often so all good from that front.

5. Foods Rich in Carotenoids

Here’s my list, from WEbMD.

  • Apricots (not keen but will get them this summer)
  • Asparagus (LOVE THEM)
  • Beef liver (I don’t eat meat other than fish)
  • Beets (yes, but need to have them more often)
  • Broccoli (love broccoli)
  • Cantaloupe (Have never tried!)
  • Carrots (I eat them regularly)
  • Corn (I love corn but don’t have it regularly I must admit)
  • Guava (not keen)
  • Kale (yep!)
  • Mangoes (I grow these : ) )
  • Mustard and collard greens
  • Nectarines (not keen)
  • Peaches (summer time, yep)
  • Pink grapefruit (will start adding these to breakfast)
  • Pumpkin and squash (yellow and winter) – (I have these ALL the time)
  • Sweet potato (love it and do eat it regularly)
  • Tangerines (I sometimes have mandarines, not often enough)
  • Tomatoes (yep, have them often)
  • Watermelon (summer time!)

A Few Ideas…

Here’s a few ideas I can think of:

  • Morning: oatmeal (rich in beta glucan, excellent antioxidant so a free radical scavenger) with chopped dried apricots (high in caretonoids) and pecans (antioxidant) and a nice cup of black or green tea (with polyphenols)
  • Lunch: carrot soup (caretonoids) with barley (beta glucan), salmon (Omega 3) with kale (antioxidant), beetroot, spinach (antioxidant) apples and walnuts (polyphenols) salad and mangoes for dessert (caretonoids).
  • Dinner: Asparagus and broccoli (caretonoids) with tempeh (polyphenols). For dessert I’m having dark chocolate! (antioxidants)

The above is just so you get an idea of what can be achieved by mixing the different foods. They’re all easy to combine and there’s so much choice, you can’t really complain.

Smoothies are also a great way to get some of the above into your system. Smoothies are simple and they can get you your daily dose easily. Check some online recipes, and experiment. I’ll probably get started with carrots, beets, celery and cucumber.

Start With Only A Few Foods from the Lists

Don’t make it hard on yourself, especially if you’re not used to eating healthy foods. Start slowly and build the list up as you go. Your skin will thank you as you help it with better sun protection from within.

I recently started living in La Finca and I must admit it is now that I’m eating really healthy on a daily basis. So don’t beat yourself up, just give it a try and do your best. Your best is the best you can do!

Similar Posts

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *