4 Foods to Eat for Sun Protection + My Favorite Safe Sunscreen

Did you know healthy fats like butter and coconut oil can actually help protect your skin against sunburns?  Nourishing your body with these 4 healthy foods helps protect you from the inside out.

Foods to Eat for Sun Protection + My Favorite Safe Sunscreen

Photo by Cait Schlabach Photography

Real life: a few weeks ago my husband and I went to the beach for only about 45 minutes.  We both have similar skin coloring and sat in the same angle of the sun. After we left, my skin was not burned at all, but my sweet husband turned bright red! I felt so terrible and then told him, you must not be eating enough butter!

We laughed and then I proceeded to say, no really you need to eat more butter.

Butter as sunscreen? Yes, I often joke that butter is the worlds best form of sunscreen and obviously one of my favorite food groups too!  I mean it tastes delicious too right?!

For most of my life, I have lived near the ocean and absolutely love spending time outdoors.  I have always had a healthy respect for the sun but RARELY EVER burn.  I lived in Hawaii for 3 years and may have slightly burned less than 5 times and I truly attribute that to my diet!

Good diet and lots of healthy fats is key for sun protection!!  Now, I am not against using sunscreen, well as long as it is non-toxic sunscreen.  But in my mind, sunscreen should be the second line of defense.

Why sunshine is needed?

You see our bodies need Vitamin D and sunlight is the best and most available form of Vitamin D.  So if you are covered up in sunscreen all day long, every day this summer, you are absolutely missing this important vitamin!  Moderate exposure to the sun is not harmful at all, in fact not getting enough sun exposure is actually what is harmful!

I could write a whole post on why Vitamin D is so important, but for women, it greatly helps with our hormone balance and eliminating excess estrogen (which is key to keeping PMS symptoms, hormonal acne, painful periods and fertility issues diminished, but more on that in my hormone nutrition course, Flourish).

Our immune cells are also receptor sites for Vitamin D, so it is important especially for people like me with an autoimmune disease to get plenty of Vitamin D or sunshine!

Now, sunshine is my favorite form of Vitamin D, not only because the skin can regulate Vitamin D conversion into the active, absorbable form, but also because the skin can store Vitamin D reserves for the future.

The bottom line? Do NOT fear the sun this summer!

So how can your diet this summer protect you from the inside out?

4 foods to eat for sun protection

Anti-inflammatory Foods

Sunburns are an inflammation response so avoiding foods that add to that inflammation, such as processed wheat and grains, refined sugars, artificial sweeteners, processed vegetable oils and conventionally raised animal products will help our bodies natural inflammation response.  Sugar increases your body’s AGEs (advanced glycation end-products) that quicken the aging process but also create an environment far more likely to absorb the sun’s harmful rays and burn.  This also keeps our cells healthy at the cellular level, and healthy cells leads to a healthier you!

Quality, healthy fats

Fats are the building blocks for cells as each of your cell membranes have a fatty bi-layer.  Ok in simple terms, fat acts as a pretty wrapping paper package for each of your cells.  Healthy fats are key to cellular health and reducing inflammation. Saturated fats like butter, ghee and coconut oil, literally help your bodies natural inflammatory response (which is all a sunburn is), so eating these foods will help prevent sunburns in the first place.

Collagen

Collagen is a naturally occurring, pure protein found in the connective tissues, bones and muscles of animals, often parts of the animal that we no longer consume today. Around the age of 25, the body slowly starts to decrease collagen production, so adding it to your diet is key!  Stress also depletes collagen.  Collagen helps with the elasticity of your skin, keeping it firm and plump in all the right ways.  Collagen can also help with fine lines and dark spots!  I like to describe collagen as a beauty powder as it helps with hair, skin, nail and even digestive help!

I recommend Vital Proteins Collagen Peptides and Lavender Lemon Beauty Collagen.

Antioxidants & Vitamin C

Sweet potatoes, blueberries, tomatoes, strawberries, leafy greens, avocado (or avocado oil mayo), olives are high in antioxidants that help protect our body against free-radicals and minimize inflammation.  Specifically, lycopene found in tomatoes can help protect against the suns harmful UV damage, but we sure to choose organic and local tomatoes!  Vitamin C helps the body maintain and build collagen plus it helps protect the body against free radicals so consuming extra Vitamin C boosts the nutrients you are already consuming.

Safe Sun Screen

Sadly, conventional sunscreen is one of the most toxic beauty products on the market and one that we use often!  The toxins in sunscreen are not only powerful endocrine disruptors (which can create a host of hormonal imbalances and more) but also have been linked to allergies, learning issues and even yes, skin cancer. 

Further more, “the chemicals in even one drop of sunscreen are enough to damage fragile coral reef systems. Some 14,000 tons of sunscreen lotions wind up in coral reefs around the world each year.” (Source).  You may not be concerned about the chemicals on your body, but protecting the beautiful ocean and world we get to live in is so important as well!

I highly recommend Beautycounter’s Protect Sunscreen and the Protect Face Stick Sunscreen (this literally is your summer secret sauce as it lets you put on sunscreen without getting your hands dirty and is great for kids!).  Beautycounter has eliminated over 1500 harmful ingredients from their product creating a very safe solution, but I personally also love them because they actually work!

Post sun nourishment

Keeping your skin hydrated after being in the sun helps replenish the moisture and nourish your skin.  I recommend staying hydrated with water, electrolytes, and coconut water but also applying Primally Pure’s hydrating Rose Mint Complexion Mist and Blue Yarrow Body Oil.  From personal experience, using this combination greatly diminishes any minor burns overnight!

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  1. Rachel

    July 13th, 2017 at 3:35 pm

    Hi, can you provide sources for your comment regarding:

    “hormonal imbalances and more) but also have been linked to allergies, learning issues and even yes, skin cancer”

    Thank you!