Sunburned? Eating these 5 foods will help your skin heal from within
These past couple of weeks, Ireland has basked in an epic heatwave.
And while it might be coming to an end soon, we are all living in hope that the next one is only around the corner.
However, I am going to be honest – much I love the sun and heat, my skin needs a little bit of a break now. Even if I have been vigilant with my factor 50, my skin is still feeling a little tight and red by now – after days spent on every beach in south Dublin and Co Wicklow.
But did you know there are steps we could all be taking to strengthen our skin's defence against the sun from within.
It's true. And while you can’t eat your sunscreen, you can actually help heal sun damage with what you eat. According to experts, diet is an often-overlooked part of how we adapt to our external environments throughout the seasons, and can actually make a real difference in how our skin handles the sun and summer heat.
Also, when you eat these foods can make a difference, with the morning time being hailed as the best time to consume these skin-healing foods.
Joseph S. Takahashi, PhD is Chairman of neuroscience at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center’s Peter O’Donnell Jr. Brain Institute, and in a recent study, Takahashi and his colleagues found that an enzyme that repairs UV-damaged skin has a daily cycle of production that can be altered by eating food at unusual times.
"Turns out we have a “skin clock,” says Takahashi.
“It is likely that if you have a normal eating schedule, then you will be better protected from UV during the daytime. If you have an abnormal eating schedule, that could cause a harmful shift in your skin clock."
So then, what should we be eating to protect our skin from all this sunshine?
Blueberries contain powerful antioxidants that fight off free radicals that can damage skin due to sun exposure (and also from stress).
If you can get your hands on the wild variety, they are even more powerful and better for you. Even better? These small blue berries also a very good source of vitamin C, which can help prevent wrinkles from a day on the beach.
Nuts and seeds
Walnuts, hemp seeds, chia seeds, and flax all contain omega-3 essential fatty acids. And as our bodies can’t produce omega-3s themselves, it’s essential that we get them from our diet.
When it comes to our skin, omega-3s are tiny powerhouses, helping to ward off inflammation and protect your skin's integrity and barrier.
Why you should really make sure to eat them now? Omega-3s also help your body naturally cope with the effects of spending a little too much time in the sun.
Our favourite, juicy summer food, did you know watermelon is also all sorts of goof for you? We have all been told to include tomatoes in our diet because of the high levels of lycopene, a powerful antioxidant – but guess what? Watermelons actually contain far more.
And the good news? Lycopene absorbs both UVA and UVB radiation, although, according to a recent study, you might have to eat it often over a period of time for this to take effect.
Meaning, after a few weeks of daily, juicy watermelon consumption, lycopene can eventually act as a natural sunblock. Don't forget your regular sunscreen too, though!
In a 2010 studyTrusted Source, researchers found that green tea consumption led to fewer tumours induced by UV light in mice. The reason, they concluded? A flavanol contained in both green and black tea known as EGCG.
As well as this, another animal study on green tea found that it reduced skin damage from UVA light and protected against the decrease of collagen. Collagen, of course, is what gives our skin its integrity and firmness, meaning without it (or when it starts to decrease) we get more wrinkles and saggy skin.
Generally, we are told to do for colourful fruits and veg to make sure they contain enough antioxidants. However – there is one exception. Cauliflower might be pale in comparison to, say, peppers or kale – but this clever little veggie packs a (nutritional) punch.
This cruciferous veggie contains potent antioxidants that help fight off oxidative stress from free radicals – such as sunlight.
On top of this, cauliflower is also a naturally sun-protective food. Histidine is an alpha-amino acid whic stimulates the production of urocanic acid, which absorbs UV radiation.
This exotic fruit is extremely rich in antioxidants, ellagic acid and has anti-inflammatory agents – which can all help your skin to resists cell damaged caused by UVA and UVB rays.
Plus, pomegranate is also supposed to be good when it comes to fighting against ageing and sun-damaged skin. Which sounds pretty darn appealing to us, really.
Go pick up some of these juicy delights right now. Not only are sweet summer strawberries utterly delicious, they also contain lots of vitamin C, a phytonutrient that acts like natural sunblock and helps to prevent you from burning,
The bright red berries are also a great source of antioxidants – again, all sorts of beneficial for skin healing and protection.