Sunscreen and protective clothing are not the only things people can use to fight off the sun’s harmful ultraviolet rays.
What about food?
Registered dietitian Jody Pannozzo from MyDietitian.com talked about some sun fighting foods you can incorporate into daily meals in a Q & A below.
- What foods can help protect you from the sun?
To reduce your risk of skin cancer, be sure to get lots of produce, especially green leafy vegetables and orange and yellow fruits. When choosing grains, choose, whole wheat, wheat germ, oats and barley. For protein, choose milk, fish (like salmon), eggs, Brazil nuts, lobster and scallops. If you are craving sweets, consider dark chocolate and for hot beverages choose green or black tea.
- What is in these foods that can protect your skin?
It has long been know that antioxidants are cancer-fighting powerhouses. Retinol and selenium are two specific antioxidants that have been linked to preventing skin cancer.
Antioxidants, such as retinol and other forms of vitamin A can reduce your risk of melanoma by as much as 20 percent according to studies. Retinol can be found in milk, fish, eggs and fruits and vegetables. Selenium may also reduce risk for melanoma and increase ones changes of surviving skin cancer, if they do get it. Selenium is in whole wheat, wheat germ, barley, oats, Brazil nuts, lobster, scallops.
Omega 3 fatty acids have been shown to have an anti-inflammatory powers and can help protect cell from free radical damage. Salmon and other fatty fish are rich in omega 3.
- How many servings of food does someone need to consume to get the protection needed against the sun?
It is difficult to determine the exact number of servings we each need as individuals to ward of skin cancer. I recommend avoiding fad diets that eliminate certain food groups and instead focus on striving for a balanced diet that includes 7-9 servings of fruits and vegetables each day.
Don’t be fooled into thinking you can substitute supplements for the real deal. If you want to be sure you are getting the antioxidants your body will thrive on, start with food.
- Do people understand that food is just another tool they can use to keep skin healthy?
In recent years nutrition has been highlighted as a way to keep skin looking vibrant and younger. However, most of my clients don’t realize the impact that nutrition can have on protecting the actual health of the skin.
- Anything else you want to add?
As skin cancer awareness grows and more of us make great efforts to stay out of the sun, it is important to have your primary care physician keep an eye on your Vitamin D levels.
Vitamin D levels can be increased via diet and sun exposer. Ironically, lower levels of Vitamin D has been linked to an increase risk of melanoma.
Keep in mind that maintaining a healthy weight will reduce your risk for many types of cancer and other diseases like diabetes. Rather than trying restrictive diets that may eliminate food groups, consider finding a registered dietitian to help you achieve an optimal weight and health.
For more information, visit www.mydietitian.com.