After a relatively mild couple of summer months, we are entering the really sunny and hot period here in Austin, Texas. With so many wonderful outdoor activities to choose from in this town, how can we protect ourselves from the potentially damaging rays of the sun?
Be safe in the sun
90% of wrinkles are due to sun exposure, not simply aging. Choose a chemical free sunscreen, and apply it to your face every morning. For more comprehensive skin protection, topical antioxidants can also help decrease UV-induced free radical damage. Wear sun protective clothing, a wide brimmed hat, and sunglasses if you are going to be outdoors for an extended period of time. Try to avoid direct sunlight between the hours of 11 AM and 3 PM because that is when the sun’s damaging rays are the strongest.
Fight with your fork
Choose foods that are high in skin-protective antioxidants. Here are a few foods that pack a powerful punch from the inside out against sun damage.
Almonds have a lot of vitamin E, which helps defend against sun damage. One study showed that volunteers who consumed 14 milligrams of the vitamin per day (about 20 almonds) and then were exposed to UV light burned less than those who took none.
These little seeds are a great source of omega-3 fatty acids. The British Journal of Nutrition reported that participants in one study who consumed about half a teaspoon of omega-3s over 6 weeks experienced significantly less skin irritation and redness, as well as better-hydrated skin.
Lycopene, the phytochemical that makes watermelon red, helps eliminate skin-aging free radicals caused by ultraviolet light. Besides helping to prevent sunburns, lycopene can also help prevent wrinkles. It strengthens the elasticity of skin tissues while keeping them from losing their tension.
Sweet potatoes are loaded with vitamin C which smoothes out wrinkles by stimulating the production of collagen. A study in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that volunteers who consumed 4 milligrams of vitamin C (about half a small sweet potato) daily for 3 years decreased the appearance of wrinkles by 11 percent.
In a study published in the International Journal of Cancer, people who ate the most leafy greens had half as many skin tumors over 11 years as those who ate the least. The folate in these healing greens helps maintain and repair DNA, which reduces the likelihood of cancer-cell growth.
Green tea releases catechin, an antioxidant with anti-inflammatory and anticancer properties. Research has found that drinking 2 to 6 cups a day of green tea helps prevent skin cancer.