eat your sunscreen

By Alice Lloyd

Nutritional Therapy Practitioner

08.21.21

Eat Your Sunscreen: natural sun protection and boosting a tan

My daughter and husband left for a fun-filled day at the beach today. It was cloudy when they hurriedly left in the morning and they didn’t grab my Faux Sunscreen Kit (not surprised). As the sun slowly started to come out in the morning and then blasting August heat full-on by noon, I thought I better text them to check in. I lovingly reminded them to not eat fried food, snack only on colorful veggies, step out of the sun midday for shade and drink lots of nice cold filtered water. They are used to my alternative methods of protection but for those of you wondering how colorful veggies can protect you from the sun, read on.

Vitamin D is from the Sun! We are solar powered, like plants.

What?! Photons from sunlight mix with cholesterol to make Vitamin D. Vitamin D boosts immunity and is cancer protective. Vitamin D is more like a hormone: it fires up 2000 genes in the body, it increases serotonin, it fights inflammation, it resists the formation of cancerous cells.

What is the sun sending down to us?

The sun gives off UVA and UVB rays...

UVA: these rays penetrate the skin deeply but don’t make us burn, tending to increase the risk for skin cancer

UVB: the body uses these rays to make Vitamin D. They also make us burn while telling the body to make melatonin (which is what turns the skin brown).

So, we should just slather on sunscreen to protect us from the UVA and UVB?

No. Sunscreen blocks UVB rays (the ones we need to make Vitamin D with) so when we use sunscreen we only get the UVA rays which penetrate the skin deeper without the tell-tale burn. Our ancestors didn’t have skin problems from the sun because they didn’t have sunscreen to separate the UVA and UVB rays. We need the natural, even rays coming to us to create Vitamin D in our bodies. The higher the number of SPF, the more Vitamin D is blocked from going into our skin (SPF8 blocks 90% while SPF30 blocks 99%).

The perfect amount of Vitamin D from the Sun?

The perfect amount of time in the sun is: half the amount of time it takes to get a slight pink mist 24 hours after the initial sun exposure. With natural exposure, your body will regulate how much Vitamin D it needs.

How to get good delicious Vitamin D from sun without using Sunscreen:

  1. Work on a base tan. Having a base tan, a good layer of melatonin, acts as a physical barrier between sun and skin. L tyrosine powder promotes tanning by making melatonin. You can make Tanning Gummies for a beach snack: L tyrosine powder, berries, raw honey, carrot powder, gelatin, lemon juice
  2. Pay attention to your skin while in the sun. Cover yourselfwith a loose shirt or hat. Stay out of the sun during the peak hours of the middle day. Or scoot into the shade for that time. Pink skin means time to go inside. Using sunscreen turns off our body's natural signal to tell us to go inside when we’ve had enough sun.
  3. Use a tanning bed! I can’t believe I just typed that. When going to a tanning bed, make sure you use a bed with natural light - they are the older beds usually. Use the older, cheaper beds with a MIX of UVA and UVB. Start your exposure slowly, 2-5 minutes. Then work up to bigger increments.
  4. Use beautiful natural products on your skin. Remember, your skin is the most absorbent organ we have, only put on your skin what you would put in your body. Think of our skin as the entrance into our temple. Vitamin C spray (magnesium and calcium), Raspberry Seed Oil (SPF of 28-50), Carrot Seed Oil (SPF of 38-40) - use coconut oil as a carrier for both of these oils, Zinc Oxide creams, Beauty Counter sunscreen. Rocky Mountain Soap Company has nice clean products. Use the app “Think Dirty” on your phone to find out the toxic load of beauty products.
  5. Hydrate inside and out! We are more likely to get burned when we are dehydrated. Drink water! Slather lanolin and/or coconut oil (coconut oil has 3-5 natural SPF) on your body to hydrate your skin.
  6. Food helps! In order to resist burning and promote tanning, eat an anti-inflammatory diet: good fats, no processed foods, only good oils (icky oils will react with the heat from the UVA rays from inside your body). Make sure your inflammatory and anti-inflammatory levels are balanced so that you are digesting fats properly. Eat lots of beets as your beach snack! Beets support gallbladder and fat digestion. How about cold Russian Borscht shooters? Eat a rainbow of colors while sunbathing. Organic raspberries, strawberries, and beets, oranges, yellow peppers, cucumbers and peppers, Blueberries, plums and grapes, figs and cups of radicchio all are antioxidant packed. Eat salmon, seafood shells and lobster bisque to help your body resist burning, for these foods have the nutrient astaxanthin.
  7. Where are you? Look around at your environment, many things affect your ability to make Vitamin D. The time of year matters, and the latitude of where you are, your unique skin pigmentation, how much melatonin you have will act as a shield, or not at all. How old are you, how much time have you had in the sun, is your diet clean and satisfactory? You need cholesterol to turn sunlight into Vitamin D. The higher you are in altitude, the more UVB you get from the sun and the reflective surfaces you are near matter, water: very reflective, grass: more absorbent.

Caring for your body inside and out

If you have a history of sun burns, get your skin checked regularly. You can certainly work on your skin health. Internally, ensure your diet is rich in essential fatty acids. Make sure your diet has adequate calcium and magnesium as the sun helps to activate the calcium within us. Externally, care for your skin with products you can also eat. Have an aloe plant in your home to provide your family with 100% pure aloe vera, keep a bottle of lavender oil, use cucumber slices for the skin, drink collagen powder in your coffee or water, pure Vitamin A and E mixed together, soak a washcloth in green tea, apply yogurt to the sunburn, witch hazel, raw honey might be sticky but helpful for burns! Make sure our precious children eat an anti-inflammatory diet (always, not just when sunbathing), wear rashguards, scoot to the shade when it's time and wear hats. Sort of like the old “don’t get in the pool until 30 minutes after eating” rule, wait 30 minutes after being in the sun to shower so your body can actively make Vitamin D for you, give it a minute to do this beautiful job for your health.

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