By: Sammy Cusimano
Beauty may be only skin deep, but healthy skin goes much deeper below the surface. Maintaining healthy skin cells transcends the outer layer that is easily seen and starts with the right amounts of nutrients ingested in the daily diet. While a glowing bronze tan may seem to exude health and vibrance, there are potentially serious health risks connected to skin that has been overexposed to ultraviolet rays. The risks are very
real. Each year, there are an estimated 4.3 million cases of basal cell carcinoma (the most common form of skin cancer) in the United States alone. It is mind-blowing that more people are actually diagnosed with skin cancer each year than all other types of cancers
combined. The reality of the disease is that one in five Americans will develop some type of skin cancer by the age of 70. With skin cancer being so common in today’s society, it is
more important than ever for everyone to maximize all available resources to treat and prevent damage to the skin due to ultraviolet rays. Protecting the skin is a multi-front battle rooted in a strong foundation of proper nutrition, daily maintenance and holistic lifestyle choices that work together to fortify the health of the delicate skin cells of the body.
One of the simplest and most effective ways to enrich the quality of the skin is to consume plenty of water each day. When the body is dehydrated, there are very noticeable changes in the skin. It can appear loose, dull and even flaky. With cells consisting of 70% water, it is crucial to drink a lot of fluids throughout the day, especially during the summertime. In addition to water, another beneficial drink for good skin health is coconut water. It hydrates the cells of the body while also providing essential minerals, vitamins and electrolytes such as sodium and potassium for healthy skin. Coconut water also contains proteins called cytokines, which are important for cell growth and activation, thus making it a powerful anti-aging drink. In addition to its raw flavor, coconut water comes in a variety of delicious fruit and even chocolate flavors, which
make it very palatable and easy to drink. Because of its high amounts of vitamin C and anti-oxidant properties, coconut water can even be applied topically to the skin to help
reduce sunburn. Drinking plenty of regular water as well as coconut water on a daily basis will help hydrate and nourish the skin cells for optimal health of each of the layers of the skin.
When the skin is overexposed to ultraviolet rays, inflammation occurs. Over time, this can lead to immediate negative effects such as sunburn and long-term effects such as wrinkles. Some of the best weapons for reducing the harm and inflammation caused
by damage to the skin are foods containing antioxidants. These nutrients benefit
the skin by helping to fight free radical damage while also helping to remove toxins from the body. There are numerous “power foods” that are excellent sources of antioxidants. Blueberries, pomegranates, acai berries, goji berries and raspberries are all very rich in antioxidants that are very beneficial to the health of the skin. Other foods such as nuts, seeds, spinach, grapes, organic green tea and even dark chocolate are also sources of skin-enriching antioxidants.
Many of the fruits containing high amounts of antioxidants for healthy skin also contain vitamin C, which is a very beneficial nutrient for good skin health. Eating plenty of fruits and other foods containing vitamin C actually leads to fewer wrinkles. Skin exposed to vitamin C can produce more collagen. Taking a daily vitamin C supplement combined with a topical vitamin C serum applied directly to the skin will help to strengthen the skin, while also protecting it from future damage due to ultraviolet rays.
In addition to vitamin C being beneficial for good skin health, there are also many benefits of vitamin E for the skin. It is a very powerful nutrient that actually stimulates the skin’s collagen production. Foods containing vitamin E are easily found at any local grocery store. Avocadoes are a great source of vitamin E. Also, olives and olive oil contain beneficial amounts of vitamin E along with healthy fatty acids, which help to hydrate and moisturize the skin. These healthy fats can help to nourish the skin from the inside out, to help it appear and feel youthful. Much like vitamin C serum which can be applied directly to the skin, vitamin E can also be applied topically as well. Including vitamins C and E in a daily regimen of supplements will help not only heal inflammation of the skin but also help to prevent any negative effects caused by the daily stress that the skin may endure.
Choosing the right sunscreen can be a challenging task considering the multitude of choices at any given store. Chemical sunscreens and organic, mineral-based sunscreens are vastly different in how they each protect the skin from harmful ultraviolet rays. Chemical sunscreens are designed to actually absorb UV light. The downside to chemical sunscreens is that the chemicals will penetrate through the skin and leak into the urine, blood and even breast milk of the body. These chemicals can be toxic to the body in large amounts as they may build up over time. One of the most common sunscreen chemicals to beware of is Oxybenzone (also called benzophenone-3). In contrast to the chemical sunscreens on the market, the mineral-based products are much healthier for the body. Organic, mineral-based sunscreens commonly contain zinc oxide and titanium dioxide. These minerals help to reflect the ultraviolet rays away from the skin. Many of the organic sunscreens available on the market also contain additional skin-enhancing ingredients such as extra virgin olive oil, beeswax, jojoba oil, cocoa butter, shea butter and even sunflower seed oil.
Aloe vera is one of the best natural solutions in regards to skin care. The aloe vera plant is easily grown in almost any garden in the state of Louisiana, and it is one of the most effective treatments for sunburn. It is actually a cactus plant that secretes a clear gel when broken. This nourishing gel can be applied topically to the skin to heal wounds and soothe irritation caused by sunburn. Aloe vera not only treats sunburn but can also be used as a very effective skin moisturizer with its nutrient-rich gel. Many natural products for sunburn treatment and even some organic sunscreens contain aloe vera.
Enjoying outdoor activities with little to no sun damage to the skin is quite possible with the right preparation and precautions this summer season. The key to keeping the skin healthy is to protect it with the right organic sunblock while simultaneously nourishing it with healthy, nutritional choices and plenty of hydrating fluids. Combining these healthy habits with good clothing choices that effectively cover the exposed areas of the body is crucial in preserving the health of the skin. Be comfortable in your own skin and treat it like you value it as much as your heart, lungs, brain, etc. It is actually the largest organ of the human body and deserves daily care and quality treatment. Your skin is unique because it is the organ that represents you. Invest in it, protect it, cherish it. Your body will thank you every day!