July is here, which means you are probably looking for ways to maintain a smooth and sexy summer tan. Suntans aren’t just about looking good, however. In fact, health professionals suggest that spending time in the sun can actually improve your mood, immunity, and overall quality of life.
“Sun exposure has been shown to trigger the production of vitamin D within the body,” explains Miami holistic health professional, Dr. Ted Herrmann. “This causes a cascade of oral health and holistic health benefits […] Most notably, vitamin D ‘activates’ the body’s white blood cells, which strengthens immunity.” Vitamin D has also been shown to improve bone density, strengthen teeth, elevate mood, and reduce symptoms of depression.
Sun, Health, and Wellness
It’s undeniable that sun exposure is an essential ingredient to a healthy and happy life. Need more proof? Look no further than this epidemiological study of 30,000 women spanning more than 20 years, published by The Independent (UK), in which researchers found the mortality rate of women who avoided the sun to be twice that of women who enjoyed sunbathing every day.
So, take advantage of the all-natural benefits of sunshine this summer! Just be sure to wear sunscreen, reapply often, take breaks in the shade, and look for ways to add the following superfoods for sun protection and healthy skin to your daily diet.
Superfoods for Sun Protection and Healthy Skin
Kale, Spinach, & Other Leafy Greens
When it comes to preventing burns and sun damage, few superfoods offer more value than leafy greens like kale, spinach, leeks, cilantro, and swiss chard. Together, these greens pack a powerful punch of fiber, vitamins, and minerals that will keep you looking and feeling your best.
Red fruits like watermelon, papaya, grapefruit, and tomatoes have at least one thing in common: They all contain lycopene, a powerful antioxidant that is often credited with reducing the risk of heart disease, atherosclerosis, and cancer. Red fruits are also a good source of vitamins, juice, and naturally occurring sugar—three ingredients that will keep you revved up and hydrated, no matter where your summer adventure takes you.
If you haven’t developed a taste for dark chocolate, now is a good time to start. Dark chocolate with at least 70% cacao is known to contain high levels of phenols and catechins, two compounds that many studies associate with lower incidence of various cancers (ii).
Power Up: Try this triple chocolate banana protein shake to get a big dose of cancer-fighting phenols and catechins, without the distinctly bitter taste of straight dark chocolate.
Broccoli is another superfood known to preserve your skin’s youthful glow throughout the summer. Naturally high in a powerful antioxidant called sulphoraphane, this tree-like vegetable keeps skin looking firm and even by helping to shield against damaging UV rays. Best of all, broccoli is easy to prepare and pairs well with most meats, poultry, and seafood.
Need inspiration? Try this delicious beef and broccoli meal for a delicious mid-day pick-me-up.
Few things epitomize summer more than the sight and smell of fresh coconuts. This tropical fruit isn’t just for piña coladas, however. Coconut oil is comprised of medium-chain triglycerides (MCTs), a unique compound that “proves promising as a cancer treatment,” (iii).
Switch it Up: Instead of olive oil, try using coconut oil the next time you sauté, bake, or broil your entrée. Coconut oil is an exceptional addition to foods that are naturally bland or sweet, like chicken, peppers, broccoli, spinach, and other leafy greens.
Pomegranate Fruits & Extracts
Pomegranates are another antioxidant-rich “super fruit,” making them a popular recommendation for skin protection and cancer prevention. In fact, daily pomegranate supplementation can increase your skin’s ability to defend against sun damage by up to 25%, according to the Father of Internal Skincare, Dr. Howard Murad.
Of course, water is vital during hot summer days. Water keeps your body hydrated, boosts metabolism, and aids weight loss, among performing many other crucial functions. Drinking water is particularly important in the summer, as hot temperatures cause you to sweat and become dehydrated more quickly. Aim for 2-3 liters each day, and be sure to visit this article on the importance of water.