For those who love to work or live to play outdoors, sun exposure is an inevitable part of daily life. If you’re the outdoorsy type, you’re probably already well aware of the dangers of ultraviolet radiation and the damage it can cause to your precious skin.
Contrary to popular belief, protecting your body and avoiding that dreaded sunburn isn’t just about liberally coating yourself with sunblock before going outdoors. Indeed, there are many ways to improve your skin’s UV resistance from the inside. The following are 15 of the best ways to naturally increase your skin’s UV resistance which – while not a substitute for topical sunscreen – work hand-in-hand with the use of natural sunblock to protect your body from sunburn and other harmful side effects of prolonged exposure to ultraviolet radiation.
1. Eat More Tomatoes
The first food I ever learned about which naturally increases skin’s UV resistance (and the one food that gave me the idea to write this guide) was tomato purée. Along with sun-dried tomatoes, it is one the most potent sources of the antioxidant lycopene (here are the top 10) that we know of! People who live the Paleo lifestyle are intimately familiar with the health benefits of this super-antioxidant, including the fact that they don’t sunburn nearly as fast as they did before they started eating it with some regularity.
If first-hand accounts aren’t enough to convince you, here you can read the scientific study which verifies the ability lycopene to boost skin’s natural resistance against damaging UV radiation.
2. Add More Cruciferous Veggies To Your Diet
If you plan to naturally increase your skin’s natural resistance to sun damage, you’ll definitely want to include more Cruciferous veggies to your diet. Well known for being some of the healthiest foods on the planet, vegetables in the Cruciferae family owe their skin-protecting, UV-resisting, cancer-fighting properties to the organosulfur compound known as sulforaphane – one of the best natural remedies against skin cancer that we know of!
Cruciferous vegetables – also known as “brassicas” or cole crops – include broccoli and broccoli sprouts, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, bok choy and cabbage. (You can read more about them here.)
3. Treat Yourself To Some Sweet Potato
Sweet potato is one of the richest food sources of skin-nourishing antioxidant vitamin A, as well as a potent source of lycopene. Eating a sweet potato or two each week will increase your body’s ability to resist sunburn and other forms of UV damage. Not only that, the vitamins, minerals and antioxidants naturally present in sweet potato also improve collagen production which can make your skin look younger and healthier.
The best part? Sweet potato is… well… sweet! It’s nature’s candy and it’s also good for you. What could be better than that?
Because vitamin A is fat-soluable, you can increase your body’s ability to absorb this important nutrient by adding a tablespoon of coconut oil or natural butter to your sweet potato. (Or if you don’t like sweet potato, here are a few more excellent sources of vitamin A.)
4. Snack On Almonds & Almond Butter
Almonds and food made from raw almonds (like this delicious almond butter!) are one of the best natural sources of another skin-fortifying antioxidant – vitamin E. Just as with sweet potatoes, almonds and their associated antioxidants not only help to prevent sunburn and other forms of UV damage, they make your skin look and feel great! (Read more about skin-nourishing foods in 10 Foods To Add To Your Diet For The Most Beautiful Skin Of Your Life!)
Almonds also have the added benefits of being one of the best and most scrumptious high-protein, metabolism-boosting snacks that can help you lose weight naturally! Check out these Top 10 Secret-Weapon Super Foods to learn more!
5. Load Up On Dark Leafy Greens
It’s no secret that dark leafy greens top the list of healthiest natural foods. While many people may dislike them for their flavor or texture, here’s another reason to want to eat them. Foods like spinach, kale and watercress are potent sources of both vitamin E (like almonds) and vitamin A (like sweet potatoes).
Even if dark leafy salad greens aren’t to your liking, you can still get the skin-nourishing, natural sun-blocking nutrients of this food group from fresh herbs. Basil, parsley, sage and rosemary are all great choices!
6. Refresh Yourself With Pomegranate
Whether you choose to drink pomegranate juice, take pomegranate extract or simply eat the fruit; this is one food that definitely belongs on your grocery list if you plan to improve your skin’s natural UV resistance. Pomegranates contain high levels of ellagic acid which increases the body’s ability to produce glutathione. Glutathion is a natural antioxidant which has been shown to significantly increase skin’s resistance to ultraviolet radiation by up to 20 percent!
7. Eat Foods Containing Omega-3 Fatty Acids
Cold water fish like salmon, mackerel and sardines contain high levels of omega-3 fatty acids which improve overall skin health as well as the body’s natural UV resistance. You can also add flaxseed to your diet for an excellent vegetarian source of this potent essential fatty acid. Both flaxseed and fish oil are also available as supplements which can be taken daily to boost your body’s natural ability to block out ultraviolet radiation.
8. Add More Coconut Oil to Your Daily Diet
One of the many health benefits of adding coconut oil to your diet is that it also boosts your skin’s natural ability to resist sun damage. Try mixing a tablespoon of coconut oil into your morning coffee, use it to sauté veggies in lieu of other cooking oils, or add coconut oil to foods in place of butter to get in your daily dose of this ultra healthy superfood!
9. Replace Vegetable Oil With Healthy Fats
If you want to improve your body’s natural UV resistance, you’ll want to avoid vegetable oils which contain unhealthy amounts of omega-6 fatty acids. Instead of vegetable oil, use healthy fats like real butter, coconut oil or olive oil when cooking or dressing your food.
10. Stay Away From Simple Carbohydrates
Over consumption of sugar and other simple carbohydrates (white bread, pasta, etc.) cause oxidative damage throughout the body and can severely reduce your skin’s ability to properly manage UV exposure. If you want to improve your natural resistance to ultraviolet radiation, you’ll need to avoid foods containing simple carbohydrates as much as possible.
Further Reading: 10 Convincing Reasons You Need To Quit Sugar, Right Now!
11. Avoid Processed Foods Whenever Possible (or Entirely!)
Processed packaged foods often contain high levels of unhealthy fats, simple sugars and other chemicals which hamper the body’s ability to regenerate skin cells and resist ultraviolet radiation. These ‘convenience foods’ are also often loaded with salt which leads to dehydration and will put stress on your skin and other organs. Instead of reaching for processed foods when you need a quick snack, plan ahead and try some of these 500+ Healthy Natural Snack Ideas & Recipes!
12. Replace Sugary Drinks With Green or Black Tea
Give your skin a boost of sun-blocking antioxidants by replacing sugary drinks with green or black tea. Green tea in particular is loaded with catechins – a specific group of antioxidants which have been proven to ramp up skin’s resistance to ultraviolet radiation when consumed daily.
You can read more about the potent health benefits of green tea in 10 Amazing Benefits Of Matcha Green Tea.
13. Indulge In A Little Dark Chocolate
Dark chocolate is one guilty pleasure that you should indulge in with some frequency. Cocoa is well known as a potent source of antioxidant flavanols which have been proven to increase the body’s ability to resist UV radiation as well as overall skin health.
(If you’d like to experience the best of the best in delicious dark chocolate, I highly recommend these Dagoba Organic Dark Chocolate Drops!)
14. Increase Your Intake of Vitamin D
Vitamin D is one of the main components responsible for the production of skin pigmentation (i.e., developing a tan). The human body naturally produces its own vitamin D when skin is exposed to sunlight. However, if you want to supplement your vitamin D before going out in the sun, there are a couple of ways to do this. Supplements like Fermented Cod Liver Oil are naturally high in vitamin D. You can also obtain the ‘sunshine vitamin’ by eating fatty fish like salmon, tuna and mackerel.
Further Reading: 9 Warning Signs You Are Vitamin D Deficient & How To Fix It
15. Gradually Increase UV Resistance By Building a Natural Tan
Once you’ve begun to make the necessary dietary changes which will naturally increase your body’s ability to resist ultraviolet radiation; you’ll want to further improve your skin’s sun-blocking potential by building a tan. Start slow – just 10 to 20 minutes daily without using sunscreen – until you have a nice base tan. Once your skin begins to darken, you’ll find that you sunburn far less easily and you’ll be less reliant on sunblock than you ever thought possible.
Just remember, you should still use sunscreen to protect yourself during periods of prolonged sun exposure. But don’t reach for the store-bought chemical stuff. Instead, learn how to make your own all-natural sunblock (as well as why you should) in this article: The Hidden Dangers of Chemical Sunscreen & What To Use Instead!