Hello Healthy Nurses!
This week the focus is our diet related to skin health. We are always concerned with the nutrition and intake of our patients. It is crucial to be just as mindful with ourselves. We can combat the sun damage we encounter this summer, and PREVENT future damage, with a few convenient tweaks in our daily eating habits.
Foods That Boost Natural Sun Protection:
- Citrus fruits (lemon, limes, oranges, grapefruit) are high in Vitamin C.
- Carrots contain beta-carotene – protects skin against free radical damage.
- Strawberries- (It is strawberry picking season now!) – powerful combination of antioxidants and vitamin C. They contain contain tannins that can help reduce the sting of a sunburn. For sun burn home remedy: grab a few strawberries and mash them up. Than slather them on your sunburn for natural relief. Rinse off your skin after a few minutes
- Green tea- When you sip a cup of green tea, your body is getting catechins, which have disease-preventing properties and protect against sunburn inflammation and long-term UV radiation damage. Green tea also has tannic acid in it, which helps calm sunburn pain, and antioxidants called EGCGs. University of Wisconsin study showed EGCGs stopped genetic damage in human skin cells exposed to UV light.
- Pomegranates have been part of a healing tradition that dates all the way back to ancient Egypt! The seeds in this delicious exotic fruit are rich in antioxidants. Pomegranates also contain ellagic acid, which can help protect your skin from cell damage induced by the sun’s UVA and UVB rays.
- Almonds are one of the best sources of vitamin E, which protects and repairs the skin from sunlight. Almonds also contain quercetin, which has been shown to protect against UV damage and the wrinkle-causing breakdown of collagen.
- Red grapes- phytonutrients in grapes can slow down the formation of destructive reactive oxygen species (ROS) that form in skin cells, which has been linked to sun damage, skin cancer and cell death. Grapes also contain proanthocyanidins and other polyphenols found in the grape’s seeds that inhibit skin cancer induced by UV rays. Grapes also contain quercetin, a study published by Toxicology and Applied Pharmacology found that quercetin was responsible for lessening oxidative DNA damage caused by UVB exposure, and was able to help protect the skin from related inflammation. Bonus!
- Green lettuce, spinach, kale, and swiss chard, are excellent sources of the antioxidants lutein and zeaxanthin. These have been show to halt cell growth prompted by UV light in animal studies.
- Tomatoes- When you eat tomatoes, you are adding lycopene to your diet. Lycopene is a carotenoid and antioxidant that neutralizes the free radicals produced from too much sun, and minimizes any inflammatory response to UV damage by your body, according to Mayo Clinic. This effects is magnified when you eat processed tomatoes (cooked or smashed into foods such as ketchup, tomato paste, or tomato juice), which makes the lycopene more bioavailable.
- Watermelon- This staple summer fruit is also high in lycopene and contains 40% more lycopene than tomatoes!
- Turmeric- Ayurvedic and traditional Chinese medicine have used turmeric for centuries due to its strong antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. It’s a “superstar” of superfoods.
- Flat seed- Omega 3 fatty acids in flax seeds can protect your skin from sunburn, reduce additional inflammation if sunburn occurs, and fight against skin cancer. According to the National Institute of Health, flaxseed oil can protect your skin against UV rays and keep your skin moisturized so it won’t dry out, as well as fight against skin cancer. Try adding 2 tablespoons to your next smoothie.
Incorporating more of these foods into your daily routine will make a difference in your skin health! Remember, these need to be lifestyle changes, not a temporary diet. Taking one day a week to prepare some healthy snack for the rest of the work week will make eating healthy much more convenient and easier to maintain over time. These foods and other healthy alternatives will allow us to perform at our best for ourselves and our patients!
Let’s tackle the challenge together! Small changes in our personal care plans will lead to successful outcomes. We must practice what we teach.
Thank you for being a part of the healthy nurse, healthy nation movement!
Jillian Bailey and Mary Ellen Levine and the Healthy Nurse Healthy Nation -NJ team.