Last week I was out walking with my husband and daughter in our local park. We came across a mom spraying down her whole family, including young children and a baby in a stroller, with an aerosol sunscreen spray. I have to say, I actually stood back and waited for that cloud of chemicals to pass before walking on by. I didn’t even want us to go near that mist.Of course, this woman was being a loving mother and trying to do the right thing for her family, protecting them from the sun, from sunburn and skin cancer. That’s a very good thing! But the specific brand she had chosen was also soaking them unknowingly in endocrine disruptive chemicals!
The Wrong Sunscreen Can Decrease fertility
All chemical sunscreens contain endocrine disrupting chemicals that sink into your skin and right into your bloodstream. Just two of the common ingredients - oxybenzone and octinoxate - act like estrogen in the body, are associated with changes in sperm production, endometriosis, and overall negatively impact the thyroid and reproductive systems.Putting a chemical sunscreen on to your skin is one thing, inhaling it in the cloud that comes from an aerosol can be even worse and such absorption can actually damage your organs. The link to cancer is so strong that national cancer prevention organizations suggest you wear a hat and stay in the shade instead of using chemical sunscreens.
Are we stopping skin cancer?
Most people these days are aware of the danger of too much sun exposure - they are vigilant about wearing sunscreen and slather it on every hour when out in the summer - as the result of nationwide awareness campaigns. Yet, cases of skin cancer are actually on the rise. It’s still the most common cancer currently contracted in the US. So what’s going on? Clearly the chemical sunscreen is not working.
And it has a lot to do with diet of course! What you eat affects the function of the skin, one function is to shield itself from photo damage!Researchers from John Hopkins University discovered that a component of broccoli called sulforaphane can prevent cancer when applied to the skin. They actually painted broccoli puree on to subjects skin to test this out! Lead researcher Dr. Sally Dickinson has also discovered that sulforaphane is highly effective at inhibiting cancer-causing pathways and at triggering chemoprotective genes like the Nrf2 gene. Such research suggests there are other ways to deal sensibly with sun exposure that bypass chemical sunscreens and their potential dangers.
3 Foods to Protect Your Skin This Summer
It’s very likely that a combination of the fact that we’re not eating enough skin-protective foods along with the increasing damage to the ozone layer from global warming has got us into this situation. Here’s what you can start eating to restore the essential micronutrients for sun-savvy skin this summer - and of course - they are delicious, good for your hormones, and taste way better than that chemical spray sunscreen that gets in your mouth when the wind blows it the wrong way - blech!
Eating more broccoli and any other veggies from the brilliant brassica family, as well as more carrots and fresh fruit to increase your levels of vitamin A and C, will actually give you sun protection all summer long. You will be protected from the inside out, your body will set up its own defences. Of course, you also need to be sensible and not let yourself or your family burn by being out in the sun when it’s at its most fierce or for too long, but the right kind of diet will actually give you more time in the sunshine and prevent rapid sunburning.
Vitamin E has massive skin protecting effects. Eating a more Mediterranean-style diet (or following the Flo Living protocol!) will improve your skin’s function and improve it’s response to free radical damage. Drizzle olive oil on everything, even directly on your skin! Tomatoes and basil also have sun protecting skin enhancing effects and the three together make the salad summer is made for! So, if you’re not vacationing in the Mediterranean this year (we wish!), you can bring a piece of that lifestyle to where ever you spend your sunny time out!
OMG - chocolate actually doubles the amount of UV required to get a sunburn by increasing skin density, hydration, and microcirculation! I mean, there are SO many good reasons to eat dark chocolate every day, puree some raw cacao with some avocado and top with fresh strawberries for a skin protecting dessert! (Thank you chocolate gods for giving us the cacao bean - all praise!)
Unprotected skin, Hormones and Fertility
You do need a minimum of 15 minutes in the sun daily without any sunscreen to allow for production of Vitamin D3. Adding in foods that are clinically shown to protect this skin can make you feel much more at ease with this practice. This method is better than just staying out of the sun, because we do really need sunshine. We need that vitamin D3 that only the sun can provide as supplemental forms are less bioavailable. In addition, vitamin D3 is essential for hormonal balance and optimal fertility. There’s a bonus too - when we have enough D3, we are actually protecting ourselves against anti-oxidant skin damage.
My personal sun solution for me and my baby girl
I have a beach vacation in New England planned for this summer. My plan is to take my daughter out in the early morning sun when it’s less intense, so between 9am and 11am. I’ll have her wear a hat and a UV protective long sleeved swim shirt and little shorts. I will be using sunscreen, but only have to apply it to the areas not protected by the clothing. The sunscreen I’m choosing for my daughter is a physical barrier cream rather than chemical sunscreen. At the beach, when I’m not swimming - I personally wear this giant UV protective hat. I sit under an umbrella and if it’s super intense sun, I wear a tunic.
And I pack beach food that protects my skin - tomato, basil, broccoli, quinoa salad drizzled with olive oil and topped with walnuts. Cacao, avocado, strawberry pudding and fresh cherries for dessert.
Physical sunscreens are made of titanium oxide or zinc oxide and they sit on top of the skin. They act as a barrier against the sun’s rays, which are then either absorbed by the sunscreen or reflected away from the body. Physical sunscreens are usually opaque chalky white. You may have seen lifeguards or surfers using a physical block on their face. That’s because when you’re out in the sun all day, this is what is most effective and naturally water-resistant. They’re also hypoallergenic as a rule, which is great as most chemical sunscreens cause allergic reactions for those with sensitive skin. Formulations are much better now - easier to apply and disappear into the skin.I have chosen the Badger brand zinc oxide-based physical sunscreen for our trip.
I LOVE summer! And I love that knowing how to eat right to protect my hormones also protects my skin - one elegant solution with food really does take care of everything! Say no to chemicals and say yes to broccoli! Always remember, that once you have the right information about how your body really works, you can start making health choices that finally start to work for you!