It can be hard to take advantage of those hot rays of the sun if you’re concerned about skin damage.
Fortunately, by filling your plate with this food, you may be able to heal the damage caused by a little sunshine.
Sunshine and Skin Damage
It is important to get enough sun every day. It helps regulate our circadian rhythm so that we get a good night’s sleep and provides us with vitamin D which strengthens the immune system.
However, prolonged exposure to the sun can damage the skin and lead to redness and wrinkles. When you receive too much ultraviolet radiation, it damages or “breaks” the bonds between strands of DNA in your skin cells. This causes cells to mutate or die, leading to signs of aging or even cancer.
Researchers believe that UV exposure causes up to 80% of the visible signs of skin aging.
How Nutrients Can Repair DNA
Before worrying about irreversible damage to your skin (and avoiding the sun forever!), Know that there are many foods that can help reverse and prevent this damage.
Ultraviolet light generates molecules in our body called free radicals. These are the molecules that damage and break down our DNA, causing skin damage.
The antioxidants in some fruits and vegetables help eliminate these molecules. When you consume large amounts of these antioxidants, your body can use them to quickly get rid of free radicals before they damage your skin.
This isn’t the only way nutrients can help fight skin damage. Vitamin C also aids in the synthesis of collagen in the skin, helping to repair damaged areas.
Think of your skin as a collection of collagen fibers that form a matrix. This matrix is tough and flexible when you are younger, but with age or exposure to UV radiation, the matrix will loosen or break. This is what causes wrinkles and sagging skin, and why adding more collagen to your diet can help overcome it.
9 Foods that Repair Skin Damage
The following nine foods are rich in nutrients that help repair DNA and prevent sun damage. Think of them as internal sunscreen!
Stay away from apples: One orange a day will help keep wrinkles away. Citrus fruits are rich in Vitamin C, which is not only a powerful antioxidant that can fight free radical damage but can also boost collagen synthesis to slow down signs of aging.
Blueberries have one of the highest antioxidant levels of all fruits and vegetables. They are particularly rich in a class of antioxidants called flavonoids that help reduce inflammation. This is important because your skin experiences little inflammation after overexposure to the sun, which can further increase free radical damage.
Try to eat blueberries regularly to get the maximum benefit for your skin. You can blend them into smoothies, serve with coconut yogurt, or enjoy them with sliced oranges for maximum skin regeneration.
Make sure to add tomatoes to your salads this summer. Tomatoes contain a powerful antioxidant called lutein that can help stimulate your DNA to repair itself after damage.
These red fruits also contain lycopene, another antioxidant that prevents damage and reduces redness after sun exposure. Animal studies show it can even reduce the risk of skin cancer.
Generously use organic tomato puree (no preservatives or added sugars) in your homemade sauces, bake the tomatoes in the oven to make tomato chips, or blend into a cold soup.
Oysters are high in zinc, reducing and repairing breaks in the DNA strand. If you get enough zinc, your body can prevent and repair skin damage.
Shredding roots can also be an effective way to protect your skin from the sun. Carrots are rich in a class of antioxidants called carotenoids, which studies have shown to significantly reduce DNA damage. Other studies show they can also protect you from sunburn.
Add grated carrots to your salads or roast plenty of skin-protecting carotenoids.
Salmon’s natural pink color indicates a powerful antioxidant called astaxanthin, which studies have shown is one of the best for eliminating free radicals.
One study found that participants exposed to harmful ultraviolet radiation for 10 weeks had better skin tone when using astaxanthin, compared to a placebo group. Researchers believe astaxanthin helps prevent and repair UV damage while keeping skin more hydrated.
As if you needed one more reason to eat avocado, its high vitamin E content can provide protective benefits for your skin. Studies show that avocado can significantly protect the outer layers of the skin from damage, especially when combined with vitamin C.
In addition, the healthy monounsaturated fatty acids in avocados can help improve the absorption of certain antioxidants such as lutein, which only help protect the skin.
8. Brazil nuts
Brazil nuts are rich in trace elements selenium. Like zinc, studies show that selenium stimulates the repair of broken DNA strands while decreasing the frequency of DNA breaks. It does this by increasing the activity of certain enzymes and DNA repair pathways, helping to repair strands broken from sun damage.
Good news, chocolate lovers: Studies show that cocoa can greatly protect your skin from ultraviolet rays. Like blueberries, cocoa contains flavonoids that scavenge free radicals and protect DNA from mutations.
Treat yourself to a piece of dark chocolate (at least 70% cocoa) every night or add a pinch of raw cocoa powder to smoothies or baked treats in place of processed cocoa.