Eat Red Foods to Boost Your Skin’s Sun Defense
Our primal ancestors could spend more time out in the sun because their diets were rich in the nutrients that protect your skin. Modern industrial food companies have stripped these nutrients from our food supply.
To condition your skin for a day in the sun without sunscreen, eat more of these red foods:
1. Wild-Caught Salmon. Wild-caught salmon is rich in a rare nutrient that provides a natural defense to the sun’s burning rays. It’s called astaxanthin.
This antioxidant is produced by special microalgae named Haematococcus pluvialis. When these algae are exposed to intense sunlight, they produce bright pink astaxanthin as a survival mechanism. Salmon eat this algae and it turns their flesh bright pink. And when you consume this pigment, it keeps you safe from the kind of DNA sun damage that burns your skin.
In a groundbreaking study, researchers tested a group of people to see how long it would take them to develop a sunburn. The subjects took 4 mg a day of astaxanthin. After two weeks, they could tolerate much more time under ultraviolet light before developing sunburn damage.1
Salmon is by far the richest source of astaxanthin. Just make sure it’s wild-caught. A typical 6-ounce serving of Wild Pacific sockeye salmon gives you 4 to 5 mg. I also recommend astaxanthin supplements. Take up to 10 mg per day.
2. Tomatoes. Red or orange fruits and vegetables like tomatoes have high levels of lycopene. When you eat these foods, lycopene settles into your skin’s outer layer. It acts as a natural sunblock and also repairs cells damaged by sunlight.
Lycopene prevents sun spots, dryness and wrinkles from UV radiation. In a Journal of Nutrition study, people who ate tomato paste every day for 10 weeks showed less damage when subjected to UV radiation.2
3. Hibiscus Tea. Hibiscus is one of the richest sources of antioxidants in the entire plant world.3 And it is also a natural sunscreen. Studies show it absorbs UV rays from the sun.4
I often make a big pitcher of cold hibiscus tea and sip it throughout the day. Studies show it can restore antioxidant levels within just one hour of drinking it.5
Look for any tea that lists hibiscus as the first ingredient. You might also see it called sour tea, red tea, flor de Jamaica, sorrel or roselle. Just place 4 tea bags in 8 cups of water and let it steep overnight in the refrigerator. Remove the bags in the morning and add the juice of one lemon. The brewed tea will have a tart taste. You may want to add some honey or stevia as a sweetener.
1 Lorenz, R.T.2002b. “Method for retarding and preventing sunburn by UV light.” U.S. Patent No.6,433,025.
2 Stahl W et al. “Dietary tomato paste protects against ultraviolet light-induced erythema in humans.” J Nutr. 2001 May;131(5):1449-51.
3 Carlsen MH et al. “The total antioxidant content of more than 3100 foods, beverages, spices, herbs and supplements used worldwide.” Nutr J. 2010 Jan 22;9:3.
4 Nevade Sidram A., Sachin G. Lokapure and N.V. Kalyane. “Study on anti-solar activity of ehanolic extract of flower of Hibiscus rosa-sinensis Linn.” Research Journal of Pharmacy and Technology 2011;4(3): 472–473.
5 T. Frank et al. “Consumption of Hibiscus sabdariffa L. Aqueous extract and its im