Summer is quickly approaching and with that comes the occasional over-baked skin. Sunburn is a type of inflammation, and diet has a tremendous impact on inflammation in the body, and a large part of natural sun protection is eating an anti-inflammatory diet. Research shows that a combination of oral and topical sunscreen is the best approach for achieving a radiant glow.

Skin regeneration requires healthy nutrients throughout life, and in increased amounts under certain conditions such as exposure to free radicals and UV radiation. We need to ingest these compounds in the right amounts in order to nourish and protect the skin. (Higher intakes of Vitamin C and linoleic acid are associated with better skin-aging appearance.)

Examples:

— Healthy fats: avocados and almonds

— Vitamin E: wheat germ, nuts, seeds and green leafy vegetables

— Vitamin A: sweet potatoes, carrots and liver

— Vitamin C: bell peppers, broccoli and citrus fruits

The best way to ensure that you’re getting the right amount of antioxidants and vitamins is to eat a rainbow of fruits and vegetables every day. You know: Five to seven servings of colorful plants per day, which will help prevent your skin from aging and boost overall health.

The human body is amazing in its ability to adapt and protect. There is a constant battle being fought against foreign invaders and harmful toxins, which we are usually unaware of. Our skin is the largest organ in our immune defense system and is our first line of defense.

The two main types of damage from the sun are UVA and UVB radiation.

UVB affects mainly the epidermis, the thin outer layer of the skin and is responsible for sunburn. It also contributes to immune suppression, premature skin aging and skin cancer.

UVA penetrates the skin deeper to where our collagen actually lives.

We all know that we need to apply sunscreen before going out in the sun to prevent sunburn, but did you know that we can increase our skin’s SPF factor by eating certain foods?

The key ones are:

— Carotenoids, natural pigments found in fruits and vegetables, such as sweet potatoes, spinach and carrots.

— Lycopene, the red pigmentation found in veggies and fruits like tomato paste and watermelon.

— Lutein, phytochemical that filters potentially damaging light. It’s found in dark green leafy veggies like spinach and kale

It’s important to note that the most potent form of lycopene comes from cooked tomatoes that have been prepared with olive oil. Absorption of lycopene from cooked tomato paste is 3.8 times that from fresh tomato. The olive oil increases serum lycopene, acting as a “transport” vehicle.

In addition to eating skin supporting foods, sunscreen is still important to apply. The Environmental Working Group (EWG) offers a complete guide on the most effective sunscreens, both for our bodies and the oceans where chemicals can influence the destruction of marine life. http://www.ewg.org/sunscreen

Summer Green Soup with Avocado and Cilantro

Most of these skin-loving ingredients are available now at the farmers’ markets. Choose organic whenever possible.

1 avocado

1 small zucchini, chopped

2 stalks celery, chopped

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2 cups raw spinach

1/4 cup fresh parsley

1/2 cup fresh cilantro

2 slices green pepper

1/8 cup raw onion, chopped

1 small clove garlic

1/4 cup raw almonds, preferably soaked over night and rinsed

1/4 tsp sea salt to taste

1 1/2 cups filtered water

Juice of 1/2 to 1 lime or lemon

1 small watermelon radish for garnish, diced small

Place all the ingredients in the blender, except the sea salt, and process to desired consistency and warmth if you have a Vitamix. If you have a regular blender, you may pour into a sauce pan and gently warm over low heat until just warm enough to enjoy but not hot.

Adjust seasoning further with sea salt to your liking and add a squeeze of lime juice to brighten the flavor. Garnish with diced radish for a beautiful and crunchy addition.

Local culinary coach Karen Schuppert will be making this fresh green soup on Saturday, June 10th at the Napa Farmers’ Market 11 a.m. Grab a taste at the Chef’s Table near the information booth.

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