Before talking of the damage that the long exposure to the sun rays could lead to, it is important to reiterate that the sun performs many beneficial actions for health, for example it stimulates the production of vitamin D, essential for fixing calcium in bones, but also for hormones important for well-being, both physical and mental.
On the other hand, however, it also represents a stress for the organism, which defends itself from its rays causing the “tan”. In fact, to increase the defenses against radiation, the skin tans thanks to a brown pigment, melanin, produced by melanocytes, cells present in the skin tissue.
And the more melanin there is, the darker it gets.
This sort of natural shield changes according to the criteria of exposure to sunlight. For example, those who expose themselves in the central hours of the day will have a more intense reddish color, due however not to the production of melanin, which is brown, but due to the burn of the sun.
It should also be added that regardless of exposure, melanin production is genetically predetermined. Who has a very light complexion will always have a different result than those who are naturally darker in pigmentation.
Do tanning foods even exist?
For years carrots have been attributed tanning capacities, but is it really so? Yes and no. It is true that the high consumption of carrots or other vegetables rich in vitamin A or beta-carotene, causes some colored pigments to deposit at the level of the skin. This gives a pale yellow to the skin that overlaps with the melanin intensifies the color of the tan. It is therefore a chromatic effect, albeit pleasant. But the role that nutrition plays to protect and promote the integrity of the superficial and deep layers of the epidermis is certainly much more important.
A is in first place
It starts with vitamin A, the most important for skin health and beauty. This vitamin promotes the synthesis of all the mucopolysaccharides present in the skin and under the skin. And it is precisely from these connective tissue molecules that the elasticity and hydration of the skin depend, as well as the delay in the formation of wrinkles. Remember, in fact, that the sun’s rays dry out the skin and tend to destroy the fibrous component of the connective tissue: the presence of the vitamin A promotes the cellular multiplication of the cells responsible for the production of these fibers and therefore plays a protective function. Moreover, in recent years the emphasis is increasingly placed on the fact that a prolonged exposure to the sun increases oxidative stress, ie the production of free radicals, toxic substances that accelerate the aging of cells and, therefore, also of the skin.
To neutralize the action of these toxic compounds, it is essential to take the well-known antioxidant substances with the diet every day: in addition to vitamin A, vitamins C, E and minerals such as selenium and zinc (see the box at the bottom).
Among other things, one of the main tasks of vitamin C is the production of collagen, a protein found in the skin, hair, nails but also constituent of containment structures such as connective tissue, cartilage, tendons and so on. To satisfy the needs of these precious health allies, it is sufficient to remember the rule of the famous five portions of fruit and vegetables a day, within a varied and balanced diet.
No to drastic diets
Sun exposure, even if it causes its main effects on the epidermis, certainly also affects the beauty of hair and nails, especially if you spend your holidays by the sea. However, it should be kept in mind that diets that are nutrient-poor or excessively low-calorie – due to an excessive rush to lose weight before departure – can have a decisive influence on the health of skin and skin appendages. A dry and scaly skin, thin and fragile hair and nails, can signal decided protein deficiencies even after a few days from the beginning of a too rigid diet. In particular, the reduced contribution of sulfur amino acids (constituents of proteins) such as cysteine and methionine, minerals (zinc, copper, selenium and iron) and B vitamins such as biotin is harmful. A deficiency of the latter, also called vitamin H, it also facilitates hair loss. A curiosity: avidin, a substance present in raw egg white, prevents its absorption.
Drink transparent and eat green
But in addition to a proper diet, it is important to remember that the skin hydrates from the inside, not from the outside. And water is the best product to combat dryness and maintain a beautiful elastic skin.
In conclusion, fortunately, following all the elements mentioned is not difficult. A breakfast of yoghurt, wholemeal bread and fruit, a light lunch of cereals and vegetables with little protein (legumes, an egg, a soft cheese) and a dinner of fish and vegetables, satisfies the needs needed. Even better if you always choose fruit as a snack and if you use extra virgin olive oil as a condiment. In short, a naturally Mediterranean diet, to be enjoyed on the shores of your favorite beach.
Feed the skin in the summer
To help the natural defenses of skin, (but also of hair and nails), against “sun stress” here are the micronutrients that should never be missed and their main natural sources.
Where it is found: Apricots, watermelon, asparagus, broccoli, carrots, persimmons, cabbage, endive, lettuce, melon, red peppers, tomatoes, spinach, pumpkin.
Where it is found: Citrus fruits, broccoli, cabbage, strawberries, kiwi, raspberries, mango, papaya, peppers, tomatoes, black currants, spinach.
Where it is found: Plant sources: garlic, broccoli, cabbage, cucumbers, cereals (especially if they are whole), onions, mushrooms, celery.
Where it is found: Mainly in vegetable oils (sunflower, corn, olive) but also in avocado, almonds, walnuts, hazelnuts, pistachios.
Animal sources: meat (lamb, duck, pork, chicken), aged cheeses, fish (crustaceans, seafood, sardines, tuna), egg yolk.
Plant sources: all cereals and legumes, oily fruit. Among the vegetables: carrots, green cabbage, celery, spinach. Animal sources
Animal sources: meat and fish in general (anchovies, octopus, cuttlefish, oysters).
Animal sources: meat, milk and dairy products, eggs
Animal sources: mussels, oysters, salmon, honey
Animal sources: liver, meat, fish (corvina, caviar, murmur, scorpion fish, red bream, salpa, octopus, boga, sea bass, sea bream), seafood (oyster, mussel)
Sarah is part of the Team ELC and she helps people discover what makes their life happy, meaningful, and full of ease. She is a writer, meditator and loves painting, an art she happily gets to practice a lot in her spare time.