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Get Out in the Sun

by Dr. Stephen Gangemi on April 16, 2012

It’s still a couple of months away before we can officially say it’s summer, but it sure does feel like it already. Winter pretty much passed us by and spring has already been very hot. Your diet and how you care for your skin can promote health, as well as seriously hinder it. Your diet also plays a huge roll in how the sun affects you, for better or for worse.

Now is a good time to revisit some important health topics related to the sun and summertime because many people strive for a bathing-suit body. Speaking of, the Boston Marathon is today, and organizers have warned runners that they should be very fit and well-trained if they are going to race this year. They’re actually allowing runners to defer to next year if they want to bow out before the start. I don’t anticipate many will take them up on this offer. Eighty-plus degrees is a hot day for a marathon, especially when surrounded by thousands of people. Even if you don’t want to exercise in hot weather, (which often isn’t a good idea), you’ll want to be ready for the sun and heat. Break out your Swimmies and read on.

The first things to address are the sun, sunburn, and sunscreen. Contrary to popular belief, the sun is not bad for you. Actually it’s essential for good health. Covering up in long-sleeved clothes and a hat when you’re out in the sun is usually a bad idea, especially if you always block your skin from the sun. Sure, burning is very unhealthy, but so is a lack of sun exposure. How about sunscreen? Are you a Banana Boat family or a Coppertone kid? I hope neither. Rubbing common sun lotions on your skin is terrible for you. There are healthy types of sunscreen out there, but they’re hard to find, and even many in health food stores such as Whole Foods are not what you should be rubbing on your body every day.

What’s the best way to avoid sunburn? Stay indoors? Yeah, but that’s not healthy. Actually the best way to not burn is to consume adequate healthy fats and antioxidants in your diet. That means you should be loading up on coconut milk & oil, eggs (yolks), butter, cream, avocados, nuts, seeds, and even some fatty fish or fish oil. Along with that, plenty of colorful fruits, vegetables, and herbs will provide you with the antioxidants to combat any free radicals you might receive from the sun. Hopefully you aren’t creating free radicals from your sunscreen – many people do as their sunscreen or sunblock creates photoreactivity on their skin, and that’s no good. For more the sun and sunscreen, catch up on the article I wrote last year – here.

Now let’s not forget about vitamin D. It’s what everybody is talking about and everybody thinks they need to take it. Should you? Well that depends a lot on how you live and where you live. Can you get it from the sun? The angle of the sun’s rays, your skin type, and what’s on your skin all contribute. Many areas are out of their “Vitamin D Winter” but many locations now only have a small window of the vitamin D emitting UVB rays during the day this time of the year. For everything I think you should know about vitamin D, read here.

Healthy sun exposure is enhanced by adequate nutrition, as mentioned earlier. Fats and antioxidants are so important. Are you looking for a diet to help you either lose some winter weight or one to improve your overall health? I think the ideal diet for the majority of people is a Paleo-Type Diet. Eating this way will improve your health on the inside, and on the outside too. After all, your skin is a reflection of your health. A person eating a healthy diet will not cook like a lobster in the sun. If you’re very fair skin you’ll stand a much better chance against the sun if your diet is supplying adequate nutrition, and perhaps with some non-harmful sunscreen, if needed, you’ll have one of your most enjoyable summers yet.

I'm a board certified chiropractic physician and clinical nutritionist with a passion for true natural health care. I implement dietary & nutritional therapies, exercise & movement practices, and lifestyle changes along with manual therapy techniques to help the body heal and prevent illness and injuries.

From → Health Concerns


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  1. Andrea permalink

    Did I miss the part on where we could get the ECO sunscreen? Also, my kids have very fair skin; do they make an over 30 spf and do sunscreens even do anything for you over 30 spf?

    • I have ECO in my office for patients and for those who aren’t you can click on the picture which links to ECO’s site.

      Correct, over 30 doesn’t provide any additional protection.

  2. Ok I know that it’s diminishing returns over SPF 30. But. Over 30 does offer additional protection if you are sweating a lot or swimming: You can lose some screen and still get SPF 30 protection.

    I am very fair (freckled ginger person). My strategy for vitamin D collection is to slather up on the bits that are hard to chop a carcinoma out of (head, face, hands) and not worry so much about the big expanses that are easier to deal with (Legs, upper arms) .

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