I think that we can officially say that summer is finally here! For many of you, that will mean heading for the outdoors to the beach, camping, boating or simply enjoying a backyard barbecue. But along with all the outdoor fun comes the increased risk of sunburn, dehydration and aging skin!
The skin is the largest organ of the entire body by weight and surface area. In fact, the skin consists of 16% of the total body weight of an average adult, this being equal to 1.5 to 2 meters of skin. That is a lot of skin exposure to the sun!
The main function of the skin is to protect the internal body from its external environment; including bacteria, dirt and inflammatory molecules such as free radicals that can damage and mutate the DNA within our cells. The skin also provides a barrier to prevent of dehydration, helps to regulate our body temperature, is directly related to liver and gastrointestinal function, and is a primary organ of elimination and detoxification.
Ultraviolet or UV radiation is found in the sun’s invisible rays, the ones that cause sunburns and sometimes skin cancer. UVA and UVB radiation damage the skin by changing the structure of cell DNA resulting in the potential to cause skin cancers, degradation of collagen and elastin molecules leading to aging and wrinkles.
Here are some useful tips to help you enjoy a safe and healthy summer outside:
- The first line of defense is to dress appropriately. Wear a hat, breathable tops (that provide UV protection) and sunglasses. Use a good quality and natural sunscreen that limits the absorption of both UVA and UVB. Many of the commercial sunscreens contain chemicals that can cause allergic skin reactions or irritations as well as create a toxic burden on the body; however, some brands from your local health food stores will provide you with skin protection while minimizing those toxic chemicals. Check out the Environmental Working Group website for a list of the best and worse sunscreens: www.ewg.org
- Keep well HYDRATED! Remember to take plenty of water along for outdoor hiking, boating or sports. Dehydration not only affects the skin’s appearance in the short term; but prolonged periods with inadequate fluid intake may affect the elasticity and smoothness in the lower skin layers.There are also electrolyte-balancing products available at your local health food store that can be added to water to prevent dehydration during high impact outdoor activities.
- Skin health and protection can be nurtured from the inside out. Every cell membrane in the body can be strengthened by consuming fresh, unrefined essential fatty acids (EFAs). A good quality fish oil with a high EPA content contains nutrients that can act as protectors to your skin.
- Other important skin protectors and healers are: vitamin E (with mixed tocopherols), vitamin C, selenium, zinc, and of course plenty of colorful fresh fruits and veggies!
- Clinical studies have demonstrated the impressive role of choline-stabilized orthosilicic acid (ch-OSA) found in BioSil for healthy skin. In just 20 weeks, shallow wrinkles improved by 89% with the use of ch-OSA compared to the use of a placebo. This was seen in women ages 40 to 65, who had clear signs of sun damaged or prematurely aging skin.
- Astaxanthin has earned a reputation as one of the most potent and powerful antioxidants. Research has shown that it has neuroprotective properties, decreases inflammation, protects the body from cellular damage and may help prevent UV damage to the eyes and help the skin resist UV damage from excessive sunlight exposure.
- Epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG) from green tea extract is a natural and powerful antioxidant with anti-inflammatory properties that can support healthy skin.
Some super sunburn remedies include:
- Calendula cream and Aloe Vera gel, which can soothe and repair all types of minor burns. Sunburns will heal quickly with topical applications of calendula and/or aloe and will prevent scarring.
- Urtica Urens,HypericumandCausticumhomeopathics all can be taken for sunburns aswell.
While it is true that severe burns may lead to skin cancer, moderate exposure to the sun promotes the formation of vitamin D in the body. Research shows that vitamin D helps with calcium absorption to prevent osteoporosis and may be protective against multiple sclerosis and other cancers. So plan your sun exposure wisely!
Enjoy a Safe and Healthy Summer!