It's that glorious time of year. There is still plenty of hours of daylight. The days are warm and the evenings are that perfect outdoor temperature. It's the final few weeks of summer.
To make the most of these final weeks, you may plan on spending more time outdoors and in the sun. Catching some rays gives you Vitamin D, a special vitamin that many people are deficient in. And while getting a healthy dose of sunshine can be beneficial, getting too much sun can be harmful to your skin, your hair, and as you may have guessed it—your gut.
It all has to do with the skin-gut connection. The health of one organ directly impacts the health of the other.
If you plan on soaking up the sun or spending more time outdoors while you still can, keep reading this article. We dive into sun safety, how to protect your skin, and a few foods you can eat to promote healthy skin and a happy gut.
All About Sun Safety
Many adults are unfortunately deficient in Vitamin D. According to Harvard's School of Public Health, Vitamin D "is a fat-soluble vitamin that has long been known to help the body absorb and retain calcium and phosphorus; both are critical for building bone. Also, laboratory studies show that vitamin D can reduce cancer cell growth, help control infections and reduce inflammation."
Being out in the sun is a great way to naturally get more Vitamin D. However, catching too many UV rays can be damaging. An overexposure of sun can lead to painful sunburns that increase the risk of skin cancer. It can also lead to premature skin aging which is a direct cause of ultraviolet radiation from the sun.
To stay safe in the sun, try on these tips:
- Experts suggest that you get between 10-30 minutes of sun midday, only about three times a week.
- Lather up with a clean, mineral-rich SPF. Our favorite is made by Supergoop.
- More sunshine leads to more sweating. Stay hydrated while you are out in the sun by packing along plenty of water and electrolytes.
- Wear a hat. Protect your face and your hair.
The Skin-Gut Connection
Now that you know how to keep yourself safe in the sun, let's get into how your skin relates to your gut. Your skin and gut actually communicate with each other through the immune system. The gut microbiome may over-stimulate the immune system cells and therefore increase inflammation when dysregulated.
In a recent interview with Byrdie, Carla Oates, gut health expert and founder of The Beauty Chef shares some insights on the skin-gut connection stating, "while it might not sound very glamorous, the gut is where 70 percent of our immune system lies. It’s where we make nutrients, metabolize hormones and detoxifying enzymes, neutralize pathogens and make neurotransmitters—so it’s super important to get your digestive health in check in order to feel well and of course, experience clear, glowing skin."
Too much time in the sun may harm your skin and even cause permeant damage. This in turn can cause uncomfortable issues with your gut. The good news? There are a handful of foods that help keep you (and your gut) safe in the sun.
A diet rich with whole foods that are packed with UV-protecting nutrients, like vitamin C and lycopene, will help you enjoy the sun safely. Load up on these:
- Blueberries - full of antioxidants, these mighty berries combat free radicals that can damage skin due to sun overexposure. Blueberries are a great source of vitamin C, which can prevent wrinkles that too much time in the sun can cause.
- Leafy Greens - fix yourself a bright, summer-time salad. Leafy greens, like kale, are high in the antioxidants lutein and zeaxanthin. These nutrients protect against aging.
- Green Tea - a study found that green tea found reduces skin damage from UVA light. And is anti-aging because it can protect against the decrease of collagen—the skin's most abundant protein that keeps your skin firm and glowing.
- Grapes - a study by Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry found that many antioxidant polyphenolic fractions from grapes inhibit both basal and UVB- or UVA-induced ROS generation and fight the harmful compounds induced by UVB or UVA radiation.
- Olive Oil - this plant-based oil has squalene, a compound that contains antioxidants that can prevents skin cell damage due to oxidative stress from too much sun exposure.