Eat Your Sunscreen - 10 Foods to Help Prevent Skin Damage

We’ve been taught that the sun is the enemy. It’s actually absolutely essential to life -we need Vitamin D.  It’s a pseudo-hormone that affects almost every process in the body. We’re told to slather on chemical-laden sunscreens that are filled with toxic chemicals and endocrine disruptors. Not exactly what you’re looking for when trying to avoid skin cancer.  It also stops vitamin D from being absorbed. Vitamin D deficiency has been linked to obesity, PMS, Alzheimer’s disease, depression and cancer.

As sunscreen use has increased, so have rates of skin cancer. You may not realize that your diet has a huge impact on how your skin reacts to the sun. One of the best things you can do is avoid processed food, industrial vegetable oils, refined grains, and refined sugar. If you’re eating clean with Provenance Meals, you’ve already got that part covered. Then go the extra mile by incorporating these ingredients in your diet (hint – you can find most of them on our Clean Eats Menu every week). The bonus? You’ll improve all aspects of your health at the same time.

Here are our wellness experts' top 10 ingredients to help prevent skin damage:

  • Blueberries – The vibrant color of berries signify their high antioxidant levels.  These antioxidants scoop up the free radicals that UV exposure releases in the body that go around wreaking havoc and aging the skin.
  • Cacao – Cacao is very different from your standard chocolate. A whole food with no added sugar or dairy, it packs an antioxidant punch. Pro tip – combine cacao with blueberries for some synergistic power that’s greater than the sum of its parts.
  • Turmeric – Sunburns are a type of inflammation, and turmeric is a powerful anti-inflammatory that fights the pain, swelling, and redness. Eat it up as a preventative, but you can also use it internally or externally after a sunburn to help mitigate the symptoms.
  • Carrots – The same beta carotene that makes carrots good for your eyes also make it great for skin health and help protect it from sun damage.
  • Fish – It’s important that you get the right ratio of omega-3 fatty acids to omega-6s in your diet. The standard American diet is sorely lacking in omega-3s, which can lead to inflammation. You can boost your intake of omega-3s and balance your ratio by including fish in your diet.  
  • Tomato – Tomatoes, particularly cooked tomatoes, contain lycopene, an antioxidant that is particularly good at neutralizing free radicals caused by the sun.
  • Almonds – Almonds are a good source of vitamin E, which helps repair skin damage. The quercetin in almonds also help to protect against UV-damage and wrinkles.
  • Coconut Oil – Virgin cold-pressed coconut oil contains medium chain fatty acids that help regenerate skin and protect against burns. It can also be used externally - It feels amazing on sunburnt skin, and even has a natural SPF of about 4 when used preventatively.
  • Leafy Greens – You can’t get enough leafy greens. Besides being good for almost every aspect of the body, they contain skin-protecting chlorophyll and antioxidants.
  • Ginger – Another root spice like turmeric that is good at reducing inflammation, it also helps protect again skin aging.

A clean diet will help to prevent sunburn over time, but that doesn't mean you can just spend hours in the sun with no consequences. If you know you'll be out for an extended period of time, seek out shade. This could be sitting under a tree or beach umbrella, or make sure you're wearing a hat or beach coverups. Also, limit your time in the sun to before 10am and after 2pm. Always choose an all-natural sunscreen that uses zinc oxide rather than chemicals to deflect sunlight. We love Suntegrity and are excited to announce them as a perk partner available to members this summer. (More details coming soon...) You can look up the safety of your favorite sunscreen with the  Environmental Working Group .