Category Archives: sun protection

Vitamin D May Prevent Uterine Fibroids

Women with adequate Vitamin D levels are 32% less likely to develop uterine fibroids, according to a new study published in Epidemiology journal this month (1).

Uterine fibroids are noncancerous growths attached to the uterus, and they normally affect women of childbearing age. Many women with fibroids experience no symptoms at all. In others, fibroids can cause symptoms such as heavy periods, pelvic pain, frequent urination, difficulty emptying the bladder and backache. As a result of these debilitating symptoms, fibroids are one the most common reasons for women to undergo hysterectomy.

Fibroids occur in around 20% of women, but those of African descent have been shown to have a higher incidence of fibroid formation (50-80%). They are a significant concern for women because of the difficult symptoms linked to their growth. In addition, fibroids are a particular concern to women of childbearing age as they can have a negative effect on fertility. They can block the fallopian tubes, affect blood flow to the uterine cavity, change the shape of the uterus and prevent sperm from travelling through the cervix.

In the recent study, led by Donna Baird of the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS), researchers measured levels of Vitamin D

The Sun
Exposure to the sun for more than one hour can decrease risk of fibroids

in 1,036 women between the ages of 35-49. Circulating levels of Vitamin D, also known as 25-hydroxy D, were measured using blood samples. Women with more than 20 nanograms per millilitre were classed as having sufficient levels of the vitamin, although many specialists believe that the minimum level for sufficiency should be higher still.

Study participants also completed a questionnaire on sun exposure. Those who spent more than one hour outside per day had a decreased risk of fibroids, with an estimated reduction of 40 percent. It is interesting to note that fibroids are more common in black women, and that black women also tend to have lower levels of Vitamin D as skin pigmentation reduces the formation of Vitamin D in the skin (2).

Scientists are often quick to point out that “correlation does not imply causation”, meaning that a correlation between two factors does not mean that one causes the other. However in this case the researchers provide evidence of a causal relationship. The researchers noted that treatment of cultures of human uterine fibroid tissue with a form of Vitamin D resulted in decreased cell proliferation accompanied by inhibition of molecular pathways for fibrosis. In other words, Vitamin D was found to play active role in slowing the growth of fibroid tissue.

The study authors conclude that the link between Vitamin D and uterine fibroids warrants further investigation, and it is hoped that these findings will encourage further research in this area. In the meantime, it would be wise for those affected by fibroids to take measures to ensure their Vitamin D levels are sufficient.

References

1. Baird D et al (2013) Vitamin D and the Risk of Uterine Fibroids. Epidemiology. May 2013. 24:3, 447-453.

2. Harris S (2006) Vitamin D and African Americans. Am Soc Nutr. April 2006. 136:4, 1126-1129.

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Can chemical-free sunscreen help prickly heat?

Hot summer weather and beach holidays are adored by many but for around 10% of the population they can mean days of itchy misery thanks to a common condition called prickly heat. This tends to affect people year after year but could something as simple as switching to a non-waterproof, chemical-free sunscreen reduce the irritating effects of prickly heat?

What is prickly heat?

Also known as miliaria, it causes bumps or blisters to appear in a rash across areas of skin during a spate of hot weather. The rash can take several days to disappear, even if conditions are much cooler.

Avoid Prickly Heat
Avoid Prickly Heat by staying cool and keeping hydrated in the sunshine.

Prickly heat can appear almost anywhere on the body, especially confined areas such as the armpits, but tends not to affect the face. It often affects areas of the body covered by clothing as there tends to be more sweat produced where the clothing rubs against the skin. This rash is caused by sweat glands in the skin becoming blocked. This stops the sweat from escaping the body and instead leads it to leak into nearby skin, causing redness and rashes. Whilst this does not generally have any serious health consequences, the prickly heat rash can be very irritating and can really put a dampener on holidays to hot countries.

Some people are more prone to prickly heat than others. Babies and children quite commonly suffer from it as their sweat glands are not properly developed yet and can produce sweat too quickly for their skin to cope with. Being overweight can also increase the likelihood of developing a prickly heat rash as this can lead to increased sweating.
5 quick tips for reducing prickly heat

The first way to reduce your prickly heat is to reduce the amount you sweat. This can be achieved by simple measures such as:

• Staying in the shade
• Wearing only loose-fitting, cool clothes
• Showering in cool water regularly
• Avoiding exercise in hot weather
• Drinking more water than usual

It may seem counterproductive to hydrate your body more when you are trying to reduce sweating but in hot climates our bodies need far more water than usual. Drinking more will also help to prevent other consequences of dehydration, such as headaches and fatigue.

Chemical-free sunscreens and prickly heat

As well as reducing the amount you sweat, you should try to prevent your sweat glands from becoming blocked. These may become blocked through dead skin cells or bacteria.

Some people find that exfoliation can help as it removes the dead skin cells blocking their pores, allowing the sweat to escape normally. However, it is advisable to exfoliate before you go on holiday as waiting until the prickly heat has started could irritate the skin further.

One further cause of blocked sweat glands is waterproof sunscreen, which can contain pore-clogging ingredients and is like wrapping your skin in cling film! It is possible that these may aggravate your prickly heat, as they reduce the amount of sweat that can escape your skin. The resulting build up of sweat inside the skin can then create prickly heat rash symptoms.

Green People has a range of natural sunscreens which do not contain the pore-clogging ingredients which can aggravate prickly heat and they are especially suitable for people with the condition. Green People sunscreens are also free from PABA, parabens and artificial colours and fragrances.

Soothing prickly heat

If you are prone to prickly heat and you are going on holiday to a hot place then it is best to take a soothing body lotion with you. If you develop prickly heat, it will help to reduce the itching which prickly heat can cause, as well as calming and hydrating sun-exposed skin.

An organic After Sun lotion which contains soothing Aloe Vera, Calendula and/or cooling Mint would be a good addition to your suitcase. Refreshing and calming, it is ideal for using after a day in the sun.

Content kindly provided by Green People

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Does an SPF30 sun lotion give twice the protection of an SPF15 product?

Does an SPF30 sun lotion give twice the protection of an SPF15 product? No – SPF stands for Sun Protection Factor and measures the protection against UVB provided by a sunscreen. An SPF15, when applied properly, protects you against 16 out of 17 parts or 93% of UVB. An SPF 30 protects you against 32 out of 33 parts or 97% UVB.

SPF15 93% – 16 parts out of 17 (7% UVB gets through)
SPF25 96% – 24 parts out of 25 (4% UVB gets through)
SPF30 97% – 32 parts out of 33 (3% UVB gets through)

SPF50 will block 98% of UVB rays and SPF100 99%.

Natural SuncareIn reality there is actually not much difference between SPF15 and SPF100 – at least a lot less difference than the SPF figure appears to represent. The fact is that, as long as they are properly applied, most sun lotions offer quite a high level of protection and it just isn’t necessary for most of us to use an ultra-high SPF sunscreen.

SPF ratings higher than 30 are primarily used by sun care companies as a marketing tool, and take advantage of the public’s misperception of what the protection ratings mean.

More worryingly is the fact that these higher SPF levels encourage people to spend longer periods in the sun as they are not visibly burning. However, UVA rays will still be getting through, and it is thought that these are far more damaging in the long term than UVB rays. UVA penetrates deeper into the skin where it can affect living cells in the dermis. This damage can cause symptoms of premature ageing such as fine lines and wrinkles, and can also damage the DNA that carries the genetic code of each cell. If the DNA becomes damaged, cells may mutate and this is thought to be a leading cause of skin cancers.

It is far more important to apply sun lotions in sufficient quantity, to reapply regularly, and to wear protective clothing during exposure to strong sunlight, than it is to use sun lotions with very high SPF factors. Applying half the recommended amount of sun lotion will only give protection equal to the square root of the claimed SPF level. This means that applying half the recommended amount of an SPF15 product will only give approximately SPF4 protection, whilst half the amount of SPF30 will only give approximately SPF5½. As you see from these figures, the difference in protection level between these two products is minimal.

An average adult should use about a 30ml or shot-glass-full to cover the entire body. At this level, an SPF15 sun lotion will filter out 93% of UVB rays, whilst and SPF25 will filter out 96% of UVB. You should also reapply every 2 to 3 hours and always after swimming or profuse sweating in order to maintain protection.

NICE (The National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence) published guidance advising people to use a broad spectrum sun lotion with at least SPF15 protection.

Content kindly provided by Green People

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Carotenoids: Protect Your Skin From The Inside

Hopefully you have all been having a great time in the beautiful sunshine these last few days – it’s a great opportunity to spend more time outdoors. Whether that be pottering in the garden or going for long walks, having picnics in the park or barbeques with friends or sunbathing and enjoying everything else these warmer climes have to offer.

It is also a time when people start to think about their body shape and appearance as they dig out their summer clothes and dare to bare more skin. This is generally a very positive time for most people as our “winter blues” are improved and we begin to get more vitamin D from the sun and feel more energised. However, it is also a time when individuals can suffer from the negative effects from the sun such as prickly heat, sun stroke and sun burn. Damage to the skin from excessive sun exposure may not be a priority for those in their youth, however skin damage at any age is extremely detrimental and over time the harmful and ageing effects of the sun can become more apparent.

The skin is our largest organ and it provides us with a barrier against damaging pathogens entering our bodies such as bacteria and free radicals from our environment. In order to prevent these factors from entering our bodies, we need a high level of protection as they not only impact on our immune systems but they can also significantly contribute to ageing.

Tomatoes contain lycopene
Tomatoes contain high level of the antioxidant lycopene which can help towards anti-ageing

A recent review (1.) published by the journal Molecules analysed research findings available in the area of skin health and the effects of powerful antioxidant carotenoids such as beta-carotene, lutein, zeaxanthin and lycopene. These free-radical scavengers are found in brightly coloured fruits and vegetables  such as carrots, tomatoes and sweet potato.

The authors reported that these antioxidants enhance the skins ability to protect itself from oxidative stress as they act to mop up and destroy the free radicals that attempt to attack our skin and cause signs of ageing. However, the levels of these carotenoids are significantly affected by detrimental lifestyle factors. These include smoking or stress, poor diet, illness and exposure to the sun (especially  sunburn) and were reported to significantly reduce the levels of concentrations of antioxidant carotenoids in human skin.

These factors can result in skin damage as they reduce our level of protection and speed up the ageing process which can result in sun spots, pigmentation, lines and wrinkles and sagging of the skin. The authors reported that increasing levels of carotenoids in dietary and supplemental forms was reportedly one of the best defensive approaches against ageing.

Therefore to help keep looking and feeling young, youthful and radiant, make sure you top up your levels of carotenoids and limit your exposure to the sun to keep your levels of these antioxidants high. Raw carrots dipped in hummus, tomato salads or roasted butternut squash are some ways of incorporating higher levels of these antioxidants into your diet. If you can’t stand vegetables or want to supplement your diet with an extra boost, then a high quality carotenoid supplement could be considered.

As well as protecting your skin from the inside, it is also important to protect your skin on the outside with good quality, high factor natural sun protection cream. You can find more blog posts about natural sunscreens here.

Written by Lauren Foster

Refererences
1. Darvin, M.E., Sterry, W., Lademann, J. and Vergou, T. (2011) The Role of Carotenoids in Human Skin. Molecules 16, 10491-10506.

2. Image courtesy of Grant Cochrane

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Everybody loves the sunshine!

The sun has finally got its hat on across the country this week, and with temperatures reaching well over 20° C, many of us will be rushing outside to make the most of it while it lasts.

Sunshine is a great mood booster as well as being a fantastic energiser, so we feel more inclined to get out and about. Walking the dog doesn’t seem like quite the chore it sometimes might and jobs like sweeping the drive or mowing the lawn somehow have more of an appeal.

The sun is the key place our bodies get our vitamin D stores from, so if we don’t get out in the sunshine very much, we’re likely to be deficient during the winter months and then again into the following summer time period. It’s been drilled into us to wear sun protection throughout the year now and especially in the sunnier months. Whilst it’s crucial to protect our skin from burning to help avoid diseases like Cancer, a little bit of sunshine is actually very beneficial for the skin and the body’s vitamin D reserves.

Vitamin D is beneficial in many ways, such as for the prevention of rickets, supporting eye and bone health, immunity and a healthy pregnancy. Getting outside in the sunshine for a good few minutes without sunscreen on is a great way to supplement your vitamin D stores. However, depending on your skin colour, the time of day and the longitude of your location also depends on the levels of vitamins D your body can make. A great way to supplement your vitamin D stores is by taking a vitamin D supplement, such a BetterYou DLUX which is a sublingual spray and available from 400iu right up to 3000iu in strength.

Green People Sunscreens
Green People natural sunscreens contain no nasties

If you do intend on being out in the sun for a while, especially in the middle of the day, then a natural sunscreen in your daily facial moisturiser and over the rest of your body should be considered. Some popular “mass” sunscreens contain chemical filters that can actually trigger free-radical damage (which is bad for ageing and cancer) as well as synthetic preservatives which can seep through the epidermis of the skin. Natural sunscreens such as those from Green People and lavera work by reflecting UV radiation off the skin like a mirror and contain antioxidants and anti-inflammatory ingredients such as vitamins A, C & E and Green Tea and Avocado. They definitely don’t include any nasty chemicals such as parabens, phthalates or artificial ingredients which can be harmful to our health and this is something that is becoming increasingly important to the population.

So, take advantage of the lovely weather this week (it may not last long) and remember the benefits the sunshine can have on our overall health, wellbeing, mind and mood – Enjoy!

Written by Katie Guest

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Top 4 tips for holiday health

As we roll into the holiday season, many of us will be looking for natural ways to keep our bodies in tip top condition whilst in a new environment.   Whether you are looking for ways to enhance your immune system, avoid the dreaded holiday tummy, protect yourself from bacteria or look after your skin, bodykind is here.   With our top 4 tips for holiday health you cant go wrong and you will be sure to be able to enjoy your holiday, soak up the sunshine and return fit, healthy and raring to go.

Top 4 Tips For Holiday Health
Natural ways to keep our bodies in tip top condition whilst in a new environment (1)

Number one – Grapefruit Seed Extract

What’s the first thing you check when you arrive at your hotel room?….. The bathroom.  But that’s not where the germs are.  It gets cleaned every day.

Instead, it’s the door handles, TV remote, plugs, bedside tables, the hire car steering wheel and money that carry the bugs that can cause the holiday cold or, worse, holiday tummy.  Grapefruit seed extract is derived from the seeds, pulp, and white membranes of grapefruit.  It can be used as a super-powerful; all purpose cleanser for all those areas and even wash fruit and veg with it by putting a few drops in water.  Grapefruit seed extract may also help support and maintain a healthy digestive system and immune system.

Number two – Take a probiotic

Probiotics are friendly bacteria that many people take on holiday to ward off tummy bugs.  These days, most are stable up to around 20°C, so will survive the flight and a short journey to the hotel. But if you don’t have access to a fridge, you’ll need hardier bacteria called L-Sporogenes.  Because it is in a spore form, it survives any holiday heat wave and once taken, changes the environment of the intestines to promote the growth of the friendly bugs and inhibit the bad.  It’s the SAS of bacteria! Try a product such as Probio-Daily by Higher Nature.

Colloidal Silver
Colloidal Silver serves a multitude of uses. It's anti-bacterial, anti-fungal and anti-septic.

Number three – Colloidal Silver for immune support

For those off on a more intrepid trip, Colloidal Silver serves a multitude of uses.  Anti-bacterial, anti-fungal and anti-septic, spray it into walking boots to stop the pong, then onto any athletes foot as hot, damp feet provide the perfect breeding ground for bacteria and fungi. Use it under the arms to kill the bugs that lead to body odour and on the inevitable skin grazes to keep them clean.

Heard the phrase “born with a silver spoon in their mouth”?  Rich people ate and drank from silver cutlery and tankards in past times, so replicate the protective effect by spraying Colloidal Silver onto eating utensils, pans, crockery and into drinks bottles.

If you’re really travelling, 1 teaspoon left in 250ml water for 6 minutes will render it safe to drink.

Number Four – Natural Sun Protection

Natural sun creams work by reflecting UV radiation off the skin like a mirror.  They protect your skin from the sun’s harmful rays, without the risk of your body absorbing chemicals which are often present in many mainstream products.  Keep an eye open for the most popular natural certifications such as Soil Association, NaTrue, BDIH and EcoCert. These certifications require a product to meet certain minimum organic and natural standards.

Natural sun care products often contain an array of natural extracts like hemp and coconut oil, shea butter, carrot seed oil and aloe vera, all of which have natural sun protection.  Natural antioxidants from extracts of acai, grape seed and green tea help to protect skin from sunburn and reduce harmful free radical damage and many incorporate gentle, natural botanicals to soothe and moisturise.  Natural materials also help with cell repair – and don’t interfere with the body’s absorption of vitamin D.

Written by Mike Pye

References

1.  Image courtesy of  Grant Cochrane.

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Natural sun protection from lavera

Whether you are off to a sunnier climate for a much deserved summer holiday or simply taking advantage of the good weather with time in the garden, a bbq or trip to the coast, it is vital to protect your self from the sun.  Many of us have fallen into the habit of reaching for the mainstream sun care brands we know and trust when we are in the supermarket or shopping for our holiday necessities. However, as discussed previously in the bodykind blog, many of these products are packed full of nasty chemicals and synthetic ingredients that may do us more harm than good.  There is a light at the end of the tunnel though with an array of quality natural sun care products on the market to choose from.

Lavera Natural Sun Care
lavera, is a brand committed to ethics, organic and natural ingredients and quality products for a variety of skin types

Our latest beauty arrival at bodykind, lavera, is a brand committed to ethics, organic and natural ingredients and quality products for a variety of skin types.  Their range of sun protection includes products for all the family in factors 10 – 20.  Sun sprays, milks, lip balms, after suns and self tanning products that are packed full of natural and organic ingredients to give your skin the support it needs.  This award winning chemical free sun range contains no harsh ingredients and provides high-level sun care and protection for every situation.

Waterproof and 100% natural it is perfect for holidays when nipping in and out of the pool or the sea. The minerals reflect penetrating sunlight as soon as the product is applied, so it is instantly effective and doesn’t require time to develop. UVA and UVB sun rays are reflected which helps to protect the skin against sunburn and skin damage.

lavera Sun Sensitive Organic Mineral After Sun Lotion soothes and protects your skin should you have stayed out in the sun that little bit too long.  Containing naturally soothing ingredients such as aloe vera, lavera after suns use the power of shea butter and jojoba oil to moisturise and Organic rose, lavender and green tea essences to cool the skin after sun bathing.

If you want to give your skin the attractive glow that comes with sunbathing but without any of the harmful effects of the sun’s powerful rays, why not try lavera Sun Sensitive Organic Mineral Self Tanning Lotion.  Developed from organic macadamia nut oil and organic jojoba oil, it’s easy to apply to the face and the body and provides a gradual tan to the skin.

Why natural is best…

Natural sun creams work by reflecting UV radiation off the skin like a mirror.  They protect your skin from the sun’s harmful rays, without the risk of your body absorbing chemicals which are often present in many mainstream products.  Keep an eye open for the most popular natural certifications such as Soil Association, NaTrue, BDIH and EcoCert.  These certifications require a product to meet certain minimum organic and natural standards.

Natural sun care products often contain an array of natural extracts like hemp and coconut oil, shea butter, carrot seed oil and aloe vera, all of which have natural sun protection.  Natural antioxidants from extracts of acai, grape seed and green tea help to protect skin from sunburn and reduce harmful free radical damage and many incorporate gentle, natural botanicals to soothe and moisturise.  Natural materials also help with cell repair – and don’t interfere with the body’s absorption of vitamin D.

Written by Mike Pye

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Summer is on its way – Part 2: Sun protection through nutrition

Protecting your skin from the sun’s harmful rays doesn’t stop with applying sun creams.  There is a wide range of things we can do nutritionally to protect our bodies from the inside out.

Mediterranean diet
A Mediterranean diet rich in fish, whole grains, beans/pulses, vegetables, fruits and olive oil is full of antioxidants and omega 3 fatty acids. (2)

Many people admire the olive complexions of our Mediterranean neighbours although it is their diets that we should perhaps pay the most attention to.  Dr Niva Shapira writes on the importance of antioxidants and omega 3 fatty acids for the protection against sun damage to the skin (1).  She comments that in Mediterranean regions the rate of melanoma skin cancers is low even though the solar radiation is high, and that much of the protection against sun damage comes from the diet.  The paper concentrates on the traditional Greek-style Mediterranean diet (3) which is rich in fish, whole grains, beans/pulses, vegetables, fruits and olive oil.  Long chain omega 3 fatty acids are used by the body for the production of potent anti inflammatory chemicals and may help to reduce sun induced inflammation, UVB skin sensitivity and may also help in the prevention of sunburn.

Antioxidants, vitamins and flavonoids may help to ‘quench’ destructive molecules that lead to sun damage.  Vegetables and fruits, especially the colourful ones, contain an array of different antioxidants so be sure to get your five a day.

Beta carotene, lycopene and lutein are carotenoids that seem to be particularly effective for protecting against sun damage.  Good sources include carrots, sweet potatoes, tomatoes, squash, peppers, cantaloupe melons, nectarines, papaya, mango and dark green vegetables.

Astaxanthin is a red-coloured ‘carotenoid’ that causes lobsters, flamingos and salmon to be a deep shade of pink.  It also happens to be a great filter for UVA and UVB light.

Astaxanthin supplements may be the perfect addition to help those with fair skin and who are prone to sunburn, protect themselves from the sun.  Used alongside sun creams it may help to lessen the reaction to UV light that causes itchy, raised patches called hives or UV urticaria.

Higher Nature Astaxanthin & Black Currant
Blackcurrant contains more anthocyanodins, vitamins C, E and polyphenols than even Blueberries.

A nice addition to Astaxanthin is Blackcurrant extract. Blackcurrant contains more anthocyanodins, vitamins C, E and polyphenols than even Blueberries, which is why the two ingredients are so good for the effects of sunlight on the macula at the back of the eye.

Anthocyanodins also protect connective tissue by maintaining its elasticity, something lost in prematurely ageing skin.  This means that they are ideally combined when someone needs to protect their skin in the long term from the damage UVA and UVB rays can cause.

The most important thing to remember when enjoying the sun shine this year though is to be sensible and safe.  If you have been out in the sun for a while, go and get some shade.  Wear adequate clothing, keep well hydrated and avoid prolonged sun bathing.  That way you will be in tip top condition to make the most of those precious hours of sunshine!

 

(1)  Shapira N.  2010.  Nutritional approach to sun protection: a suggested complement to external strategies.  Nutrition Reviews.  68:75-86.

(2) Image Courtesy of m_bartosch.

(3)  Ani Richardson (BSc, MSc Nutritional Medicine, RNutr). Mediterranean diet comes up top again.  bodykind Blog, May 4th 2011.

Written by Mike Pye

 

 

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Summer is on its way – Part 1: Protect your skin naturally

Summer is almost here, and although many of us are hoping for the promised British heat wave for some summer sun, in all probability we may have to seek sunnier destinations this year.  However, as much as we all love the sun shine and the health benefits it brings, there is a serious side.  According to Cancer Research UK, there are more than 75,000 skin cancer cases in the UK each year and about 80 per cent of which are caused by overexposure to the sun.  This means we just need to learn to look after our skin correctly in order to be able to enjoy the sunshine safely.

Protect yourself naturally from the sun's harmful rays
Cancer Research UK state that there are over 75,000 skin cancer cases every year (2)

The message is getting through though and the sun cream market is worth hundreds of millions of pounds every year, however according to a University of California study (1), the process by which standard sunscreens absorb UV rays can result in the release of harmful compounds which could possibly cause skin cancer.  Research suggested that chemical filters in popular sun creams can trigger the kind of free-radical damage that could pre-empt skin cancer and premature ageing.  There are also concerns about chemical preservatives used in sunscreens, and other ingredients, seeping through the top layer of the skin

The potential risks are making a growing number of people turn to a more ‘natural’ approach, choosing nutrition and natural sun care products over standard sun creams. But what are the benefits of natural sun creams and how do you know what to look for?

Natural sun creams work by reflecting UV radiation off the skin like a mirror.  They protect your skin from the sun’s harmful rays, without the risk of your body absorbing chemicals which are often present in many mainstream products.  Keep an eye open for the most popular natural certifications such as Soil Association, NaTrue, BDIH and EcoCert.  These certifications require a product to meet certain minimum organic and natural standards.  Natural sun care products often contain an array of natural extracts like Hemp and Coconut Oil, Shea Butter, Carrot Seed Oil and Aloe Vera, all of which have natural sun protection.  Natural antioxidants from extracts of Acai, Grape Seed and Green Tea help to protect skin from sunburn and reduce harmful free radical damage and many incorporate gentle, natural botanicals to soothe and moisturise.  Natural materials also help with cell repair – and don’t interfere with the body’s absorption of vitamin D.  Most natural sun care products are suitable for children although there are many that are specifically designed for children’s sensitive skin.

Brands such as Weleda, Green People and Lavera offer a wide range of natural sun protection products for all the family including sun creams and soothing after sun products…

(1)  Hanson, KM; Gratton, E; Bardeen, CJ (2006). “Sunscreen enhancement of UV-induced reactive oxygen species in the skin”. Free Radical Biology and Medicine 11 (8): 1205.
(2)  Image courtesy of nuttakit

Written by Mike Pye

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Sun protection through nutrition

Summer seems to have come to an end here in the UK but many people escape the autumn and winter months by going away to hotter, sunnier climbs for a holiday.  In 2008 I wrote two blog posts about being safe in the sun and how nutrition can help.  In those posts I mention antioxidant nutrients and omega 3 fats from oily fish.

UV light can damage skin cell DNA via production of destructive ‘free-radical’ molecules.  Antioxidants may help to ‘quench’ the destructive free radical molecules and therefore protect against photo-damage.  A diet rich in colourful fruits, vegetables, nuts and seeds will provide plentiful amounts of antioxidants.  UV light can cause damage to the skin and contribute to photo-ageing through the initiation of inflammation.  The long chain omega 3 fatty acids EPA (Eicosapentaenoic acid) and DHA (docosahexaenoic acid) found in oily fish such as salmon, trout, sardines and mackerel  are used by the body for the production of potent anti-inflammatory chemicals.  Including these omega 3 fatty acids in the diet may help to reduce sun induced inflammation, UVB skin sensitivity and may also help in the prevention of sunburn.

A review paper (1) has now been published which emphasises the importance of antioxidants and omega 3 fatty acids for the protection against sun damage to the skin.  The author of the paper, Dr Niva Shapira writes about how in Mediterranean regions the rate of melanoma skin cancers are low even though the solar radiation is high, Dr Shapira speculates that much of the protection against sun damage comes from the diet.  She writes that “The increasing incidence of skin cancer despite the use of externally applied sun protection strategies, alongside research showing that nutrients reduce photo-oxidative damage, suggest nutritional approaches could play a beneficial role in skin cancer prevention”.  She suggests that more studies need to look at “dietary/nutritional  supplementation for lifelong internal support of sun-protection mechanisms, which could complement external strategies

The paper concentrates on the traditional Greek-style Mediterranean diet which is rich in fish, wholegrains, beans/pulses, vegetables, fruits and olive oil and how this, coupled with regular application of sunscreen and appropriate body coverings such as hats and clothing could be really useful in preventing skin cancers.

Dietary antioxidant and fish oil supplements might be useful but they cannot be viewed as an alternative to a healthy diet, they should be viewed only as a potentially useful adjunct.  It is always best to check with your medical doctor prior to taking any nutritional supplements.  Diet is highly important since nutrients in foods work together ‘synergistically’.  Dr Shapira says “In foods, many vitamins and various antioxidants and bioactive ingredients work to support one another and the body’s natural protective mechanisms. Synergies between the nutrients in your food, which make a significant contribution to health, may contrast with the relative isolation of a vitamin supplement.” (2)  If you do decide to take a supplement then it might be worth considering a low dose, broad spectrum multivitamin and mineral (which will provide many nutrients that work together) supplement together with a fish oil supplement to provide omega 3 fats, rather than single nutrient supplements. 

The research is getting attention, and for the first time, the Israeli Cancer Association has included the nutritional information as part of their “Smart in the Sun” advisories (2).

(1)Shapira N.  2010.  Nutritional approach to sun protection: a suggested complement to external strategies.  Nutrition Reviews.  68:75-86

(2)Press release American Friends of Tel Aviv University (2010, August 16). SPF on your plate: Researcher connects the Mediterranean diet with skin cancer prevention. ScienceDaily. Retrieved August 17, 2010, from http://www.sciencedaily.com­ /releases/2010/08/100816122206.htm

Written by Ani Kowal

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