By Corinne Glazer, RDN
Clinical Outpatient Registered Dietitian Nutritionist
Summer is here! Bring on the long hot days, the bright summer sun, and
the fun days at the beach! Lounging out in the hot summer sun is wonderfully
relaxing but continuous exposure to the sun can have damaging effects
on the skin. UV radiation has the potential to damage the DNA of skin
cells causing mutations which can lead to an increase of free radicals
in the body. These free radicals can increase the risk of oxidative stress,
cancer, and other diseases. Long term exposure to UV rays can also lead
to premature skin aging, noticeable wrinkles, loss of skin elasticity,
immune suppression, and a greater risk of cataracts or other eye problems.
The strength of UV rays vary by time of day, season of the year, distance
from equator, altitude, reflection off surfaces, and cloud coverage, but
typically UV levels are highest in the summer months.
We all know the first line of defense from the harmful effects of UV radiation
on our skin is sunscreen as well as protective apparel such as hats/sunglasses.
However did you also know that there are certain foods that might protect
our skin from the sun’s bright rays?
Here is a list of foods that contain powerful antioxidants which may help
repair damaged skin:
Figs- figs and other reddish produce including red radish, pomegranates, strawberries,
red cabbage, and eggplant contain antioxidants called anthocyanins. These
antioxidants protect cell membranes from becoming oxidized.
Rhubarb- rhubarb, barley, berries, and apples contain a compound called proanthocyanidin.
This compound works by repairing damaged DNA and helps maintain integrity
of elastin in the skin.
Grapes- grapes, cranberries, and peanuts are rich in an antioxidant called resveratrol.
Animal studies have shown that this antioxidant was able to inhibit tumorigenesis
in a mouse skin cancer model.
Onions- onions contain the highest concentration of a compound called quercetin.
This plant pigment was tested as a topical medication on human beings
and found to provide protection when exposed to UV rays.
Turmeric- the active agent found in turmeric called curcumin has been shown to
prevent UV radiation induced changes in cells.
Red bell peppers- red bell peppers, citrus fruits (oranges, grapefruit), kiwi, and strawberries
are great sources of Vitamin C. This vitamin provides benefits to skin
by increasing collagen and preventing cellular damage caused by sunlight.
"In addition to the above, there are other foods which may benefit
skin health and premature aging. These include: Salmon or other fatty
fish, Avocados, Walnuts, Sunflower Seeds, Sweet Potatoes, Yellow Bell
Peppers, Broccoli, Tomatoes, Soy, Dark Chocolate, Green Tea, and Red Wine!"
-Dr. Sheri Feldman, Dermatologist
Let’s gain that extra protection from the damaging UV rays and start
incorporating these foods in our daily regimen! Interested in learning
more about nutritional benefits of food and other tips for pursing or
maintaining healthy eating habits?
Call Torrance Memorial Specialty Center regarding the NEW (Nutrition Education and Wellness) Program or our
Cancer and Nutrition Series, (310) 891-6707.