By SUSAN CALLAHAN, Associate Editor and Featured Columnist
Sun exposure is the most important factor in causing skin cancer. The ultraviolet radiation produced from exposure to the sun or the use of sun beds triggers the creation of free radicals in the epidermal layers of your skin, causing wrinkles and deep lines and ultimately, sagging skin. In an effort to avoid skin damage and skin cancer while also enjoying the sun, we have driven global sales of sunblock to $5.6 billion, according to industry market researcher Statista.
But are there natural ways to protect your skin from the sun that won't cost you an arm and a leg? Thankfully, the answer is "yes".
Wheat Germ Oil and Olive Oils Are Natural Sunblocks
Two types of ultraviolet radiation damages your skin, UVA and UVB. UVA rays make up 96.5% of the ultraviolet spectrum and UVB make up teh remaining 3.5%.
UVA rays penetrate deeper into your skin. These rays are also longer length than UVB which means they can reach your skin irrespective of he altitude you live in, in mile-high Denver or the swamps of Louisiana.
UVA and UVB rays cause photoaging, immune system suppression, eye damage and skin cancer.
But most cosmetic commercial sunblocks only operate against UVB rays.
Your skin's natural sun blocks are oils such as squalene and proteins such as allantoin.
Olive oil is rich in squalene, which helps to further protect your skin. It is estimated that olive oil blocks up to 20% of the sun's radiation.
Vitamin E protects your skin by neutralizing free radicals. Wheat germ oil is one of the foods richest in Vitamin E. Wheat germ oil blocks up to 30% of the sun's UVB and UVA radiation.
Fish Contain Carotenoids That Confer SPF 5 Protection Against the Sun
The food you eat contain oils that, over time, accumulate in the layers of your skin. Fish contain relatively high concentrations of antioxidants called carotenoids. These carotenoids are natural sunblocks, conferring up to an SPF 5 protection, according to 2011 article from the University of Belgrade.
Selenium in Brazil Nuts and Fish Protect Your Skin
Certain fish, notably yellow fin tuna, halibut and sardines contain high levels of selenium, a powerful antioxidant. Like all antioxidants, selenium helps to neutralize the damaging free radicals created when the sun radiates your skin.
Aim to eat two to three servings of fish per week. Also, consider adding two to four Brazil nuts per day to your summer diet. Brazil nuts are the richest food source of selenium, providing over 700% of the recommended daily amount of selenium per handful.
Green Tea Catechins Are Natural Sunblocks
For generations, green tea has been used in the Far East to treat skin problems. Tea catechins are polyphenols which either taken as a drink or applied to the skin "ameliorate adverse skin reactions following UV exposure, including skin damage, erythema, and lipid peroxidation", according to the University of Belgrade study.