Long nights, beaches, barbeques, outdoor concerts, fresh locally grown fruits and vegetables; yes, the summer has arrived. For some of us that means the dreaded sunburn.  Ouch! Did you know that nutritional deficiencies could be the cause of that nasty burn? Yes, nutrition plays a role in the body’s ability to handle the sun’s rays. But that does not happen overnight. We have to plan ahead to reverse our nutrient deficiencies so that our bodies can handle it effectively. Studies show that it takes 10 weeks to get the protective effect.

Take advantage of the local farmers market and add the following foods to your diet as a protective measure.  

CARROTS AND RED BELL PEPPERS

  • Beta-carotene
    • Precursor to vitamin A
      • Vitamin A regulates the light absorption and protects the skin against too much sun.
    • The darker the color, the more beta-carotene
  • Vitamin C
    • Antioxidant protects from UV-damage caused by free radicals
  • Lutein and zeaxanthin
    • Protect against UV damage
  • Nutritional treatment of choice for photosensitivity disorders.
  • Needs time to build up in body

 SALMON

  • Astaxanthin
    • carotenoid gives salmon color
    • Protects from free radical damage created by sun
  • Omega-3 fatty acids
    • Protects skin from UV damage

NUTS AND SEEDS

  • Omega-3
  • Vitamin E
    • Along with vitamin C, protects from harmful sun rays
  • Zinc
    • Photo protective
  • Brazil nuts
    • Selenium
      • Increases potency of Vitamin C and E
      • Protects skin from oxidative damage

DARK LEAFY GREENS

  • Vitamin C
  • Lutein and Zeaxanthin

TOMATO PASTE

  • Lutein
  • Lycopene
    • Sun protective

GREEN OR BLACK TEA AND DARK CHOCOLATE

  • Polyphenols
    • Prevents free radical skin damage

 BROCCOLI AND CAULIFLOWER

  • Helps fight free radicals

BERRIES

  • Protects from free radicals

WATERMELON

  • Lycopene

 

If you do get a sunburn, consider the following options:

  1. Seek medical advice immediately, if the burn is really severe.

  2. If possible, immediately take a shower or bath, starting with lukewarm water and gradually reducing the temperature. The colder you make the water, the more the sting will decrease. Never put ice cold water directly on your sunburn.  This can cause shock to the skin. Hot water is another no-no. This will cause damage to your skin by removing oils from it. When taking a bath, you can add things to the water to help reduce the inflammation. Options are:
       • Oatmeal
       • Apple cider vinegar
       • Baking soda
       • Witch hazel
       • Essential oils such as lavender or Helichrysum  
    The optional bath items can also be applied to cotton cloth and then rubbed on the skin. If using the essential oils, put them in a carrier oil before applying them to the skin. Many soaps have a drying effect on the skin and can cause more damage to burnt skin.  Metro carries a variety of soaps that moisturize instead of dry the skin.

  3. One of my personal favorites is black, green, elderberry or chamomile tea bags. After putting the tea bag in boiling water and letting it cool, I apply it directly to my skin. It takes the sting out of the burn and to not waste the tea, I make a refreshing glass of ice tea. 

  4. Aloe Vera cactus plant leaf has a slimy fluid inside that makes a great topical gel for burns. It also works well for heat rashes. If you don’t have a plant, Metro Drugs carries after sun aloe gels and creams that can easily be thrown into your beach bag. Calendula is another plant that can be used topically to help with sunburns.

  5. Milk, yogurt, sour cream, coconut oil, cucumbers or honey are things you might have in the kitchen that can be applied topically to the burn. 

  6. Hydration is important; sunburns dehydrate the body. Increasing water intake will help prevent headaches, heat exhaustion and strokes. Add a high quality salt, such as crystal Himalayan salt, Real Salt or Celtic Sea Salt to keep electrolytes in balance.

  7. Covering burns can trap the heat resulting in more discomfort and longer healing time. Fresh air especially at night can help reduce the healing time. 

  8. Consume foods that are rich in vitamin E such as sunflower seeds.

 

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This information is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions about your medical condition. The information in this article is for educational purposes only.