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Antioxidants -your sunscreens from inside out

Updated: Jul 15, 2022

Summer season has started and we are in need to enjoy the sun, this will bring us such a needed vitamin D which we can store for cold winter days. Sun exposure gives us also plenty of happiness due to the increased production of serotonin - so called happiness hormone. The skin exposed gently to the sunlight get an attractive looking tan - so many benefits of the beautiful sun.

Despite so many amazing benefits there are some risks connected with sun exposer. Exposure to the sun radiation can bring skin damage, unwanted brown spots, dryness, uneven skin tone or higher chance of wrinkles showing up.

Why antioxidants can be helpful with regards to protection of our skin from the sun damage?

Try to imagine a bush of blueberries, currents or grapes growing on a steep hill completely exposed to the sunlight during the midday. These plants needed to find the way to protect themselves from the sun radiation. They have created the substances called antioxidants (like beta-carotene, resveratrol, lycopene or vitamin C) to manage that and this mechanism we can replicate in our bodies - consuming food rich in antioxidants we can just simply copy the nature and support our skin.

Carotenoids and polyphenols accumulate in skin and absorb sunlight of various wavelengths. Along with vitamin C and vitamin E, they protect against free radical damage to cells that's generated from the sun's UV rays, which can cause skin aging.

The free radicals can cause damage to proteins in our skin like collagen and elastin, this can lead to fine lines, wrinkles, sagging, loss of elasticity and brown spots. Free radicals can also damage lipids in cell membranes, which could lead to sagging as well as rough, dry skin.

Please note that antioxidants in our skin are constantly being used up throughout the day, so it's really important that you replenish that supply of antioxidants through your diet on daily basis.

Taking into account summer time and abundance of the highest in the antioxidants fruits let's see which ones would bring the highest benefits for us.

Fruits, vegetables high in antioxidants

Tomatoes - an excellent source of lycopene, a red pigment which can protect our skin from sun damage. Especially processed tomatoes (like passata, cooked ones) are the richest source of it. Another sources of lycopene are watermelon and pink grapefruit.

Sweet potatoes, carrot, pumpkin and spinach are rich in beta carotene another carotenoid that helps decrease redness in skin when it is exposed to UV light. Spinach is also loaded with lutein, another skin-protective carotenoid.

Other carotenoid-rich foods include mangoes, apricots, cantaloupe and kale.

Berries, grapes and pomegranate

These fruits offer sun-protective polyphenols: Raspberries, strawberries and pomegranate deliver ellagic acid, which alleviates skin wrinkle and inflammation induced by UV-B irradiation while red grapes are rich in resveratrol with protective effect from ultraviolet radiation.

Oranges, grapefruit and kiwi and many other others

Oranges, grapefruit and kiwi are loaded with vitamin C, which protects against free radical damage from the sun that can cause skin aging. Higher intakes of vitamin C are associated with fewer wrinkles and less dryness.

Fatty fish

Non plant - based source of a very potent anti-inflammatory omega-3 fatty acids. They prevent from the skin inflammation which might happen after the sun exposure and preventing the prevalence of it. The greatest sources are herrings, sardines, trout, salmon or mackerel.

Flaxseeds and walnuts

These plant-based omega-3s (ALA) which differ from the omega-3s in fish (EPA, DHA) have a bit different role in our skin. They prevent moisture loss from cells, which keeps skin supple, and they are a source of the skin protective antioxidant vitamin E. Avocado is also a great source of vitamin E so enjoy it as well.

I highly recommend you to enjoy all summer goodness - fruits with the amazing red, purple, orange or yellow colours, to benefit even more from them buy them in the organic version - they will contain even more antioxidants which they do not need to use to fight against pesticides and other chemicals.

Have great summer holidays :)

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