Sun-Safe Skin

As Memorial Day passes we can officially say that summer is here! And with the onset of summer, come trips to the beach, lots of outdoor activities, and of course, concern for how to best protect our skin. At this time of year, there is a lot of talk about sunscreens and sunblocks and I have noticed these products going on sale at the various stores where I shop. It seems that “now is the time to stock up!” Hmmmm. I’m not so sure about that…

First off, if the sun is so darn dangerous for our skin then why would our Creator have put that big ball of fire right above us, in the first place? It’s my belief that nature is perfect in every way so, how is it that the sun could be so bad for us and bad for our skin? Could it be that if the sun has become harmful, then it may be that there is something not quite right with humans these days? Could it be that it really is all about our diet?

Dr. Natasha Campbell-McBride, MD writes:

“Skin cancer, blamed on sunshine, is not caused by the sun. It is caused by trans fats from vegetable oils and margarine and other toxins stored in the skin. In addition, some of the sunscreens that people use contain chemicals that have been proven to cause skin cancer.”

First let’s look at some of the positive things the sun does for us:

Vitamin D

I only know of two really good sources of vitamin D – the sun and cod liver oil. Vitamin D is very important to our health and seems to be in the news more and more lately. People are becoming very deficient and suffering from side effects which result from this deficiency. (I wonder if this widespread deficiency stems from the fact that we are all slathering ourselves with sunblock?)  In some cases vitamin D has been proven to protect the body from: osteoporosis, cancer, heart disease, high blood pressure, obesity, arthritis, mental illness, chronic pain, muscular weakness, diabetes and many autoimmune disorders. The list grows daily.

Chris Masterjohn, a noted vitamin D expert, writes:

“……the amount of vitamin D one obtains from the sun, therefore, is proportionate to the amount of skin one exposes. Dressing conservatively will for this reason reduce vitamin D synthesis. A large proportion of children who have developed rickets, a rare and extreme disease of vitamin D deficiency, have belonged to families practicing the use of restrictive clothing for religious reasons.

….Clothing is not the only way to stop vitamin D synthesis in the skin: even the simple use of a sunscreen with SPF 8 reduces UVB penetration by 98 percent and essentially abolishes vitamin D production.”

Some of us are “Solar Powered”

I have heard this from more than one person. The sun makes us feel good! In bright sunshine my energy soars, my creativity flows and a lot more gets done around the house. This most likely stems from the effect of the vitamin D, but sunny weather also means that we get to go outside and play!  We are more apt to hike and bike, run, take walks, work in the garden, etc. when it is warm and sunny outside.

SAD

Without adequate sunlight hitting our skin many of us may be prone to Seasonal Affective Disorder which leaves us feeling blue and less energetic in the cold, dark, short days of winter. (I easily turn this around by taking more cod liver oil.)

So, how do we keep our skin happy and healthy and still get the benefits of sunshine? We certainly never ever want to get a sunburn for that burn may come back to “bite” us later in life…

Good Fats

In the “Clinical Reference Guide” that I use, under “sunburn protection” it says to take 7 Cataplex F tablets 2 hours before exposure to the sun. Cataplex F is a source of iodine which supports the thyroid and is also a source of arachidonic acid. A healthy thyroid is needed to metabolize fats and good fats are needed to protect our skin from being damaged by the sun. Arachidonic acid is an essential polyunsaturated fatty acid that is primarily found in animal-based foods.

Research shows that “dietary omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids protect the skin against photocarcinogenesis” (skin cancer). Foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids include grass-fed meat, wild caught fish like salmon, sardines & mackerel, and free range egg yolks (all the foods that I am constantly encouraging people to eat).

Another point to consider is that the cholesterol in meat from grass-fed animals and in eggs from free-range hens help to keep all cells in the body healthy, including skin cells! In looking at photos of people who consume a traditional diet, devoid of processed foods and containing plenty of animal fats, I have noticed that the skin is nearly always wrinkle free.

I have heard anecdotal evidence that using the Cataplex F for sun protection really does work, but I have not tried it myself. However, I do think that this will be the summer when I put it to the test.

Astaxanthin

As fate would have it, as I was preparing this blog, Dr. Mercola wrote a great article about a carotenoid called astaxanthin and how it benefits the skin. He suggests that this extract of a certain microalgae could very well be “sunscreen in a pill”. It may also help “prevent wrinkles, dry skin, age spots and freckles and may reverse visible signs of aging”. Astaxanthin is the algae’s survival mechanism. It serves as a shield that protects the algae from lack of nutrition or intense sunlight. Astaxanthin is of course an extract, not a whole food. Besides the microalgae, the only other real source of this carotenoid is wild caught salmon. Farm raised salmon is actually grey and fed chemical dyes to give it its color. It is the astaxanthin in wild salmon that gives it the pink color.  So with the wild-caught salmon, you get both astaxanthin and omega-3!

Using an extract of astaxanthin as a sunscreen is of course a different strategy in protecting one’s skin than using healthy fats, but I have always maintained that nature never just gives us just one way to be healthy.  I also wonder if, since the astaxanthin becomes a “shield” of sorts, will it interfere with vitamin D metabolism? Something for me to look into at a later time….

Sunblock/Sunscreens

If you do decide that it is in your best interest to use some sort of sunscreen/block please be very careful regarding the products you choose. Remember, your skin is the largest organ of your body and it deserves only the best “food”.  Whatever you rub on your skin gets absorbed into your blood stream and then these ingredients, chemicals and toxins get sent to the liver to be processed. The liver is not superhuman and can only take so much abuse. Sunblocks should be mineral based and should not contain any chemicals. If your sunscreen has any of the following ingredients in it, it should be dumped in the trash:

  • Para amino benzoic acid
  • Octyl salicyclate
  • Avobenzone
  • Oxybenzone
  • Cinoxate
  • Padimate O
  • Dioxybenzone
  • Phenylbenzimidazole
  • Homosalate
  • Sulisobenzone
  • Menthyl anthranilate
  • Trolamine salicyclate
  • Octocrylene

The active ingredients in your sunscreen/sunblock should be Titanium Dioxide and Zinc Oxide. These minerals are provided to us by nature and do not irritate the skin or clog the pores. They simply form a barrier on top of the skin.

Sunburn

As stated earlier in this post, it is important to never get a sunburn. My youngest son has very fair skin and I try hard to not let him burn. I think this year, I may try the Cataplex F tablets with him as well, but in the rare instances that he does get a little burn I reach for a vial of Dr. Hauschka’s Rhythmic Conditioner, Sensitive. I refer to the contents of these vials as a “magic potion”. This product is designed to teach your skin to act normally and when applied to a sunburn, the redness goes away, the sting goes away, and it never peels. It is truly amazing!

My Personal Sun Protection Protocol:

  1. I eat plenty of animal fats. Butter from grass-fed cows (Kerry Gold Brand), goat-milk kefir, red meat from grass-fed cows, etc…
  2. At the beginning of the season, I go out into the sun for short periods of time and allow my body to develop a nice base tan.
  3. For long days in the sun, I rarely use sunblock. I always wear a hat and when I have reached my limit, I cover up with light clothing.

It works for me….

Enjoy the summer!

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About Christina's Healthy Choices

I am passionate about helping others reclaim the health and vitality that we are all entitled to. I will share with you the choices I make that contribute to my good health and the health of my family.
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