Eat your sun­screen

Did you know that cer­tain foods can pro­tect you from sun dam­age? Pro­duce and plants, in their whole form, con­tain sev­eral com­plex com­pounds that pre­vent us from the harm­ful ef­fects of UV ra­di­a­tion, and are de­li­cious at the same time! This ar­ti­cle high­ligh

Living Now - - Health - By Bec Farah

Slip slop slap’ be­fore head­ing out­doors is what Aussies have been ac­cus­tomed to hear­ing. Cur­rent me­dia fo­cus – with many years of mes­sages about the in­creased in­ci­dence of skin can­cers and the dan­gers of over­ex­po­sure to the sun – has cre­ated the per­cep­tion that we should avoid the sun.

The amount of UV ra­di­a­tion reach­ing the earth’s sur­face has no­tice­ably in­creased in re­cent years. With the hole in the ozone layer, Australians are at even more risk of sun dam­age.

Sev­eral clin­i­cal and lab­o­ra­tory stud­ies have con­firmed that UV ra­di­a­tion from the sun causes in­flam­ma­tion of the skin and free rad­i­cal dam­age (mol­e­cules that dam­age our skin). Acute ef­fects of ex­cess UV ex­po­sure in­clude sun­burn, red­ness, and pho­to­sen­si­tiv­ity, while chronic ef­fects in­clude skin cancer, pre­ma­ture age­ing, im­mune sup­pres­sion and re­duced cir­cu­la­tion to skin cells.

Why we need sun­shine

The best-known ben­e­fit of sun­light is its abil­ity to sup­ply vi­ta­min D (as 1,25-di­hy­drox­yvi­ta­min D3). A light­skinned per­son in a bathing suit, when out for 30 min­utes on a sunny mid­day, will pro­duce ap­prox­i­mately 50,000 IU of vi­ta­min D in the next 24 hours – a lit­tle more than your pre­scribed 1,000 IU tablet a day. Since melanin (the pig­ment giv­ing skin its colour) re­duces UV ra­di­a­tion ex­po­sure, a tanned or nat­u­rally darker-skinned in­di­vid­ual pro­duces 20,000 to 30,000 IU in 30 min­utes. For very dark-skinned in­di­vid­u­als, only 8,000 to 10,000 IU of vi­ta­min D is pro­duced.

Aside from the syn­the­sis of vi­ta­min D, sun­light is also ben­e­fi­cial for healthy im­mune sup­pres­sion that can as­sist in the pre­ven­tion of auto-im­mune dis­eases, in­clud­ing pso­ri­a­sis, and in­creases the re­lease of en­dor­phins; hence sun­shine al­ways makes us happy.

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