The summer solstice signifies the hottest season of the year is upon us. The recent spell of warmth has led to days soaking up the rays in the park, BBQs and punnets of plump berries to snack on. Along with summertime comes a welldeserved decline in work and school but that does not mean we can forget about looking after ourselves; and our skin.
Protecting our skin both by applying sunscreen and lowering overexposure to the sun can reduce our risk of sunburn, skin damage and potentially dangerous skin cancer. It is important to look at the ingredients in sunscreen and to try and avoid nasties such as oxybenzone and parabens (GPnutrition wrote a blog on sunscreen last year, read it here).
As we are aware, what we eat and certain potent nutrients, are essential for skin health and can help us get (and keep) the golden glow too. Research (read here, pdf) has shown that adopting a healthy diet can influence skin colour and help achieve a beautiful, even suntan after a little while in the sun.
The secret lies with natural chemical substances called carotenoids. Too much sun ages the skin and increases cancer risk, so why not replace hours baking with more of the following foods:
- Melon & watermelon
- Peaches & apricots
- Squash, pumpkin & sweet potatoes
Antioxidants are substances that help to reduce the damaging effects that things like sun exposure, pollution and other environmental aggressors have on our skin. This damage is what starts to make us look older it shows up as wrinkles and sun spots and patches of discolouration, or it starts to make the skin sag and look thinner and lifeless.
In a nutshell: all of this damage isn’t good. The good news is that our cells contain antioxidants naturally and these help to neutralise this damage and keep it all in check, but the bad news is that quite often, the onslaught from things like smoking cigarettes and sitting outside in the midday sun can be too much for our natural defences. That’s when the real damage happens and that’s why a bit of an antioxidant boost through food and skincare could help to limit the ongoing damage.
As well as carotenoids (in the list above), here are a few more important groups of antioxidants:
Green tea, citrus fruits, red wine, onion and apples.
Tomatoes, pink grapefruit and watermelon.
Oranges, blackcurrants, kiwi, mango, broccoli, spinach, peppers and strawberries.
Wheatgerm oil, avocados, nuts, seeds and whole grains.
The bottom line is the more varied and fresh your diet is the more antioxidants you will consume. And it’s not just getting the glow but keeping the elasticity intact and wrinkles at bay that is important to us. Once you are as bronzed as the god(ess) you aspire to, don’t forget to frequently moisturise. Gabriela is a particular fan of using natural oils such as coconut or almond oil which instantly nourish the skin and leave it silky smooth and smelling delicious.