How to Protect Your Skin From The Inside Out

With warmer weather just around the corner, it’s time to start thinking about getting your summer wardrobe ready, including swimsuits, flip-flops, sun dresses, shorts, and tank tops. However, it’s also important to prepare your skin for the sun.

Why wait until the first beach day to start taking care of your skin? One way to get a head start is by consuming nutrients that act as a natural sunscreen instead of relying solely on topical sunscreens.

Have you ever taken a closer look at the ingredients in your sunscreen? Some research suggests that certain chemicals in sunscreens may be harmful when absorbed into the skin. Rather than relying solely on sunscreen, it’s important to feed your skin with the right nutrients to prepare it for safe sun exposure.

By taking care of your skin from the inside out, you can protect it from harmful UV rays while still enjoying the benefits of sunlight. Of course, it’s important to cover up or seek shade when your skin has had enough sun exposure.

Why the Sun Isn’t Usually the Enemy

There is a common notion that sun exposure leads to skin cancer and that using sunscreen provides protection against it. However, recent research suggests otherwise. In fact, the use of sunscreen and reduced sun exposure over the past few decades have not been successful in curbing the rise in skin cancer rates.

Science backs up this approach. A 2016 review in The Journal Dermato-Endocrinology concluded that while prevention of skin cancer is important, being afraid of the sun isn’t a good answer. From their findings:

“This review considers the studies that have shown a wide range of health benefits from sun/UV exposure. These benefits include among others various types of cancer, cardiovascular disease, Alzheimer’s disease/dementia, myopia and macular degeneration, diabetes, and multiple sclerosis. The message of sun avoidance must be changed to acceptance of non-burning sun exposure sufficient to achieve serum 25(OH)D concentration of 30 ng/mL or higher in the sunny season and the general benefits of UV exposure beyond those of vitamin D.”

You shouldn’t avoid the sun, but rather make a point to get sun exposure every day. Just remember to cover up or get out of the sun before you start burning your skin.

How to Stop Burning

There’s research showing the importance of sun exposure for adequate levels of Vitamin D and many other aspects of health. Wearing sunscreen greatly reduces Vitamin D production, so that’s not the answer. You can start protecting your skin from the inside out and it works.

How to Eat Your Sunscreen with Diet + Supplements

Similar to how an unhealthy diet can have adverse effects on skin and overall health, consuming a real food diet can potentially safeguard against several health issues, including those related to sun exposure. Fortunately, lifestyle and dietary habits that promote healthy skin also have numerous benefits for overall health.

Disclaimer: This advice is not medical or dermatological in nature. It’s crucial to conduct your own research, understand your skin’s needs, and identify what works best for you.

How to start preparing your skin for safe sun exposure:

1.    Eat a Real Food Diet with Enough Healthy Fats to Protect Your Skin

Consuming an anti-inflammatory diet is a significant contributor to natural sun protection. To achieve this, prioritize incorporating vegetables high in micronutrients, fish containing omega-3 fatty acids and fat-soluble vitamins, and healthy oils, monounsaturated, and saturated fats from plant and lean animal sources.

Omega-3 fatty acids are healthy fats that play a crucial role in maintaining healthy cell membranes and defending the body against DNA changes caused by sun exposure. You can obtain omega-3 fatty acids from various sources, such as:

Try to Avoid:

  • Processed Foods
  • Vegetable Oils (this is the most important for sun exposure)
  • Refined Grains (white bread, white rice, white flour, degermed cornmeal)
  • Refined and Added Sugars

Consume More:

  • An abundance of leafy greens (kale, spinach, collard greens, swiss chard, mustard greens)
  • Healthy fat sources of monounsaturated fats and saturated fats (avocados, almonds, extra virgin olive oil, pistachios, cashews, walnuts, etc)
  • Omega-3s (salmon, mackerel, seaweed, flaxseeds (ground), eggs, etc)
  • Citrus Fruits (oranges, lemons, limes, grapefruits, etc)
  • Raw carrots and sweet potatoes
  • Turmeric (along with black pepper and a fat-soluble)
  • Strawberries and Blueberries (organic)
  • Tomatoes or 2-tablespoons tomato paste (helps for sun protection)
  • Watermelon

2.    Consume Beta Carotene Foods 

Beta carotene is a vital nutrient that aids in maintaining skin health. It is one of the carotenoids responsible for giving fruits and vegetables, such as sweet potatoes, carrots, and mango, their distinctive hues. Its primary role is to enhance vitamin A activity in the body and act as a natural sunscreen.

Moreover, incorporating beta-carotene into your diet can help scavenge free radicals, and it is metabolized in the skin, providing further evidence of the gut-skin axis. Some beta-carotene-rich foods that you should consider including in your diet are raw carrots and sweet potatoes.

During the summer season, you can also indulge in your favorite nutrient-dense fruits and vegetables, such as kale, Swiss chard, and spinach, which can be particularly helpful in protecting your skin from the sun’s rays due to the presence of β-carotene, especially in leafy greens like kale and spinach.

3.    Consume Antioxidants 

Antioxidants help reduce inflammation and free radicals. Research has shown a strong protective effect of antioxidants against inflammation and skin damage. Foods with ellagic acid have exhibited photo-protective effects when it comes to collagen breakdown, redness, and swelling in UV light irritated human skin cells. So, the best ellagic acid foods are:

  • Pomegranates
  • Strawberries
  • Raspberries
  • Blackberries

Just remember to only eat these foods in moderation and only when they are in season. 

4.    Up the Vitamin D

Melanin, the dark pigment that we get when we tan, is produced to shield the skin from further UV exposure by providing a type of barrier. This is why those with darker skin need more sun than those with fairer skin to get the same amount of Vitamin D.

When the body has enough Vitamin D, it will start producing melanin to keep from getting too much. There is evidence that optimizing Vitamin D levels through sun exposure and even through supplementation will help the body produce melanin faster and retain it longer. Of course, this is a genetic and very personalized issue that is best handled with testing and the help of a qualified practitioner.

5.    Gradual Sun Exposure

Seems simple and logical, but moderation and safe sun exposure have the most benefits for Vitamin D levels. Burning your skin is never the answer! Don’t fall asleep and wake up with cooked skin.

6.    Natural Sun Protection

With the recent research on the benefits of sun exposure and with potentially harmful substances in many sunscreens, choose natural ways to protect yourself from the sun once you’ve gotten enough. Wearing sunglasses, a hat, a shirt, and pants are reusable, don’t contain harmful chemicals, and do a great job of protecting from excess sun exposure.

If you have to be outside in tperiodsor extended periods of time and can’t seek shade or cover up, find a natural homemade sunscreen or an EWG-recommended sunscreen.

7.    Supplement Support

This time of year, it may be important to start taking specific regimens of supplements to help reduce inflammation and improve sun tolerance. But, check with your doctor before making any health or supplement changes, especially if you have any medical conditions.

Certain Supplements to try:

Vitamin D3 Drops- These drops are 2,000 IU per drop, so a bottle lasts a long time. You should test your levels first.

Vitamin C– is a potent antioxidant and also has many health benefits for the body.

Omega-3s and Krill oil– Dr. Rhonda Patrick recommended these capsules in one of her podcast episodes.

Astaxanthin- A highly potent antioxidant that research shows acts as an internal sunscreen. It’s also supposedly an anti-aging supplement.

Sundots– These tasty gummies help boost the skin’s ability to resist solar damage. They contain polypodium leucotomos extract, a fancy name for a fern long used in parts of the world for sun protection.

Get Rays the Right Way

Avoid sunburn from the inside out and the outside in with nutritional support and clothing. Take these measures a month or two before beach season starts and condition your skin to love the sun. It’s good for your health anyways and saves you money on sunscreen!

3 thoughts on “How to Protect Your Skin From The Inside Out”

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