I was laying out at my apartment pool the other day when one of my neighbors, a very nice old man, asked me if I was wearing sunscreen. And because I’m so used to lying about this, I nodded yes. I was in my relaxation mode and wasn’t in the mood to explain myself. He smiled and said, “That’s good. You ALWAYS should. I just got back from the doctor and found out I have skin cancer so always remember to put on your sunscreen!”
I cringed inside and my heart hurt for him. This is such a common misconception of most people that we should wear sunscreen everyday, even in the winter. The data from the National Cancer Institute shows that the rate of new melanoma cases have almost tripled in the past 3-4 decades, from 7.89 per 100,000 population in 1975 to 23.57 in 2010. Why, if we are told to put on sunscreen all the time in the past several decades are the incidences of skin cancer increasing so dramatically?
REAL CAUSE OF SKIN CANCER
Avoiding the sun, while slathering on sunscreens filled with chemicals and toxins, blocks the most absorbable form of vitamin D: sunlight! Although we can get vitamin D from food sources, most people are walking around with stress, inflammation, and digestive disorders, which all inhibit the absorption of nutrients and vitamins from the things we eat.
Research has shown that three-quarters of US teens and adults are deficient in vitamin D, and Cancer Prevention Research has suggested that adequate level of vitamin D in the blood offers protection against sunburn and skin cancer. That means getting more sunlight prevents us from sunburn and skin cancer, and not having enough vitamin D in our blood makes us more susceptible to these problems! Furthermore, the link between melanoma and sun exposure is not proven, and no conclusive evidence supports that sunburns lead to cancer.
I believe that one of the major contributions in the rise of skin care is the toxic chemicals in commercial sunscreen. Our skin is the largest organ in the body and it’s extremely porous, absorbing whatever we put on it. A study looked into the skin’s absorption rates of chemicals found in drinking water, and it showed that the skin absorbed an average of 64% of total contaminant dosage! Not only does this impact our skin, it causes damage to our internal organs and our overall wellbeing. The active ingredients in sunscreen, toxic minerals and chemical filters, cause allergies and hormonal issues as they mimic estrogen and cause host of other problems. You can read more about it here.
IMPORTANCE OF SUNLIGHT
Vitamin D plays extremely important roles in the body, like protecting against disease and inflammation, promoting healthy bones, reducing the risk of diabetes, heart attacks, rheumatoid arthritis, multiple sclerosis, and various cancers. There are numerous research done about the benefits of vitamin D so it’s extremely important that we get it from the easiest and most absorbable way possible: again, the sun.
I personally rarely wear sunscreen and I don’t get burned unless I’m irresponsible about the way I sunbathe, which hasn’t happened in a very long time. I’m very lucky living in sunny California where getting adequate sun is easy all year long. Just spending 20 minutes daily in the sun has improved my mood and sleep dramatically.
There is, of course, such a thing as getting too much sun, especially if you are fair-skinned. The right way to get sunlight without getting burned or damaging your skin is to do it smartly. Cover yourself up after getting your daily dose. Your dosage depends on your skin tone. The darker you are, the more sun exposure you need to get an adequate level of vitamin D. Read on for some other ways you can prevent yourself from getting a sunburn without resorting to toxin-filled sunscreens.
Natural ways to prevent a Sunburn
One thing to remember is that sunburn itself is inflammation, and it’s your body telling you that there is a reason to be so susceptible to that inflammation. Just by changing what you put into your body with an anti-inflammatory diet, you can give your skin better protection against the sun.
- Eat healthy saturated and omega-3 fats. Drop your omega-6 intake at the same time, and this has shown to increase resistance to UV rays. Eat plenty of fats like butter, grass-fed and pasture-raised meats and fats, cod liver oil, wild-caught fish, and coconut oil.
- Avoid processed foods, refined sugars, and refined oils like canola, vegetable, safflower, corn, and soybean. All these foods create inflammation in the body, and are the cause of modern-day health problems.
- Stay hydrated. People underestimate the importance of drinking water consistently. If you are out in the sun, this should be even more of a priority. Try adding a pinch of mineral-rich sea salt or CellFood to your water to hydrate even better.
- Get vitamin D by gradually increasing your time in the sun. If you haven’t gone outside to sunbathe in a while, start slowly by increasing your time outside little by little. Doing this will build up your blood level of vitamin d, and you’ll eventually be more resistant to sunburns.
- Eat tomatoes, tomato sauce, and tomato paste. Lycopene is found in tomatoes and has shown to protect against sun damage. You’ll get the most absorbable form in cooked tomatoes and paste, rather than eating them raw.
- Eat or supplement vitamin C. Vitamin C is an excellent anti-inflammatory and you can get it from dark leafy vegetables, bell peppers, berries, and citrus fruits. These foods also provide powerful antioxidants that are also helpful in reducing inflammation!
- Rub on coconut oil as sunscreen. This has helped me greatly in preventing sunburns. I slather it on everywhere if I know I’ll be out in the sun for longer than an hour. It helps in healing sunburns as well.
- If you need to use sunscreen, get the right kind. There are great brands that make sunscreen without toxic chemicals. The EWG has a list of best, toxin-free sunscreens that they update every year, which you can find here.