Sun protection tips health

My first. post. ever.

A friend of mine was diagnosed with melanoma (skin cancer caused by harmful sun rays) at the tender age of 20 something. When something like this happens close to you, you suddenly realise the impact it has, and wish there was more you could do.

Protecting our skin from sun damage is extremely important. Not doing so can result in pigment spots on the skin, benign skin tumors (such as basal cell skin cancer) and also malignant tumors (such as melanoma). I say this as a medical doctor, and I’m not even a dermatologist. Keep your skin healthy, and your future self will love you for it.

Even if you’re not worried about skin cancer, think about wrinkles. Excess sun exposure easily leads to skin damage & wrinkle formation. Beauty guru’s swear by sun cream as the best anti-wrinkle cream out there, and I believe them.

Aside from sun cream factor 30 (ears, toes and lips are places people most often forget), good UV-blocking sunglasses (melanoma can occur in the eye) and staying in the shade from 11am to 3pm, nutritional guidelines can also help protect your skin.

1. SESAME OIL

Sesame seed oil has inhibited the growth of melanoma cells. Applying sesame oil to the skin might have beneficial properties.

2. LOTS AND LOTS OF TASTY TOMATO

A lovely fruit loaded with lycopene. Lycopene is an anti-oxidant which protects our cells from sun induced skin damage . Especially in summer time, grab a (preferably organic) tomato whenever you can – toss it in a salad, eat it like an apple, slice it as an extra next to your morning omelette, or have some Gazpacho (cold tomato soup as they make it in Spain). Just make sure you have a tomato every day, especially during sun exposure. You’ll be helping your skin from the inside out, and your skin will thank you for it.

3. CARROTS

It’s the beta carotene (pro-vitamin A) in them which is a potent protector against skin sun damage. In the body, beta carotene turns into vitamin A, an important anti-oxidant. It’s a good idea to start eating more beta carotene a month or two before, and also during increased sun exposure. Carrots release their beta carotene more easily when they are cooked, so feel free to give them a little heat and combine them with butter or cheese, since vitamin A is best dissolved and absorbed in fat. Consuming a carrot dish once a week or eating a single carrot daily is enough to get adequate vitamin A.

4. GREEN LEAFY VEGETABLES

During summer time, go ahead and enjoy plenty of green salads at restaurants. Green leafy veggies are crowded with anti-oxidants which will help keep your cells in check.

5. LESS SUGAR

Sugars, sugars, sugars… are actually SO BAD. They get metabolized and eventually turn into advanced end glycation products (short form, AGEs… ironic, right?). AGEs cause cell damage if not cleared by anti-oxidants. So: by increasing your consumption of anti-oxidants and by decreasing intake of sugars, you are protecting your skin from damage. Choose a cold glass of water with lemon & mint instead of ice cream, eat fresh fruit instead of candies and replace milk chocolate with good quality dark chocolate with minimium 70% cocoa content. Savory snacks like chips and even roasted nuts often still contain sugars (it’s outrageous, I know!), so it’s best to make your own if you want to limit sugar consumption.

BEST WAYS TO PROTECT YOUR SKIN FROM SUN DAMAGE

  • sun cream factor 30 (ears, toes and lips are places people most often forget)
  • good UV-blocking sunglasses (melanoma can occur in the eye)
  • a wide-brim hat or a cap
  • shade from 11am to 3pm
  • tomatoes, green leafy vegetables, carrots
  • no sugars
  • sesame oil to nurture the skin as after-sun treatment

Apply these tips and prevent all sort of sun damage to your skin, from actinic keratosis to melanoma.

Your future self will thank you for it.