Happy Summer southern hemisphere! And it has finally arrived in Melbourne too - hooray!! So to celebrate, let's eat sunscreen! I'm not, however, suggesting cracking out the 'Banana Boat', throwing your head back and squeezing it into your mouth.
Sunburn is essentially inflammation and oxidation. The ultra-violet light of the sun depletes our skin's natural protective system, and causes damage by forming free radicals and causing oxidation - read sunburn. By packing in anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidising nutrients, we are slowing this reaction, neutralising free radicals and preventing the damage they cause. There have been a number of exciting studies that show a protective effect of certain nutrients against sun damage. They include betacarotene, Vitamin C, E, A and D, and selenium. Good fats such as avocados and coconut oil are also great for new skin formation and burn protection. The diet you should be adopting for sun protection is a simple wholefoods diet - hooray! Down with the processed foods, sugar, and vegetable oils, and up with good quality fats, omega 3s, leafy greens, brightly coloured fruit and vegetables, and nuts and seeds! In my research I came across a number of people who had changed their diet in this way and had noticed drastic improvements in their skins response to the sun, with little or no burning even without sunscreen.
In thinking of some ingredients to use to go with this post, goji berries emerged as the heroes! Stuffed with Vitamin C, carotenoids, essential fatty acids, Vitamin E and B vitamins, they also score high marks on antioxidant scales. Research shows goji berries to be effective in protecting against UV radiation damage to the skin via antioxidant pathways, but that this cannot be reduced down to any one element of their nutrition, it is the whole berry itself that produces the overall effect.
Goji Berry botanical illustration
Thank you goji berry for illustrating one of my favourite lessons perfectly, the whole food is worth so much more that the sum of it's parts! So, I have listed below two recipes that include as many of these photo-protective nutrients as I could think of.
Festive Sun Protection Truffles Makes about 16 Packed with Vitamin C, E, selenium, carotenes and antioxidants, these babies are sure to see you on your way to give your skin a boost from the inside out!
1/2 cup raw cashews 1/2 cup raw brazil nuts 1/2 coconut flakes 1/4-1/2 cup goji berries 2 tbs agave nectar, honey or maple syrup 1 tsp (or more to taste) orange rind Pinch dulse flakes 2 tsp chia seeds soaked in 6 tsp water for 10 minutes pinch of sea salt sprinkle of all spice (optional) 1 tbs raw cacao powder (optional)
Pop the cashews, brazil nuts and coconut flakes into a food processor and process until it resembles breadcrumbs. Transfer to a bowl and stir in the remaining ingredients, combine well. Have a taste, adjust as necessary, and roll into 16 balls. You could also make this as a slice.
Antioxidant cocktail with Green Tea, Goji and Watermelon Watermelon is super high in lycopene, a carotenoid mentioned above. Green tea is a ridiculously fabulous antioxidant, and the gojis we know rock. 1 cup watermelon 5 ice cubes 1/4-1/2 cup green tea A handful goji berries Brew 1 tsp of loose leaf green tea and the goji berries in 1/2 cup water for 10 minutes. Strain the green/goji tea and collect the goji berries, discard the green tea leaves. Add the tea and berries to a blender with the watermelon and ice and blend. Finish with a big squeeze of fresh lemon and a slice of fresh ginger, and serve over ice with a sprig of mint! This raspberry and green tea sorbet would also be a nice thing to make.
P.S. The lovely people at FriendEAT have nominated My Wholefood Romance in their 2012 blogger awards in the Nutrition and Diet section. If you are feeling festive, pop on over and vote by clicking on the 'love' button next to 'My Wholefood Romance'. Here's the link ! x