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Eat Your Sun Protection!

As someone who loves to spend time outdoors, sun protection is super important to me. We all want to look like a bronzed beach goddess, but the reality is that the skin is our biggest organ and we have to take care of it from harmful UV rays. Not only can the sun burn our skin, it can also damage our skin on the cellular level, leading to skin aging and in many cases, skin cancer. In addition, UV rays can suppress our immune system, making it harder for our bodies to protect itself on the inside.

While nothing replaces topical sunscreen in terms of effectively protecting our skin, we can help boost our skin’s natural UV protection by eating food that’s rich in healthy antioxidants. Molecules like polyphenols and beta-carotene can help fight free radicals and prevent free radical damage. On top of that, one study showed that eating food rich in beta-carotene gives a glow that was found to be more attractive than a suntan!

Because plants actually produce molecules with antioxidant properties to protect themselves from UV damage, some of my favorite summer and tropical fruits like guavas, blueberries and oranges are full of antioxidants! In fact, cacao and coffee are rich in antioxidant because they’re grown near the equator where it’s always sunny. Fruits originating from the Middle East and Central Asia like pomegranates, dates and olives are skin-healthy as well!  Green tea, a delicious and healthy alternative to sugary drinks originating from Asia, contain a molecule called epigallocatechin-3-gallate, or EGCG, that helps to reduce inflammation, boost the immune system and repair DNA.

The next time you plan to spend time outdoors, whether for a picnic by the pool, a siesta in a hammock, or a yoga class at the park, pack your favorite antioxidant-rich snacks along with your sunscreen! Remember to reapply your sunscreen every 90 minutes. If you’re going to the beach, consider sunscreen that’s safe for coral-reefs by looking for ones formulated with mineral UV blockers like titanium dioxide or zinc oxide.

XO - Serena

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