Posted on 04-03-2014
The Arizona summer is coming, and soon our children will love swimming for long hours and running through splash pads in the sunshine. Many of us are also aware that commercial sunscreens are concocted of harmful chemicals, some even carcinogenic. This puts us in a difficult position: do we choose sunshine or sunscreen? There is a way to both enjoy and respect the sun’s power. We may need to change the way we think a little bit.
Sunlight is Good For Us
Sunlight has many benefits for humans. The UVB rays synthesize with cholesterol derivatives in our skin, creating Vitamin D. Natural light increases alertness, drive and focus. Sunlight has an analgesic effect on the body, easing pain. Seratonin increases when a person spends time in the sun, enhancing mood. It regulates cortisol in the body, which keeps energy and stress at an even level. We love the sun.
Sunscreen is Bad For Us
Most commercial sunscreens are loaded with harmful chemicals like parabens, alcohols, unstable solvents and petroleum oils. Titanium dioxide is in most sunscreens, and has been discovered to be a carcinogen. Octyl Methoxycinnamate (OMC), found in about 90 percent of sunscreens, has shown to cause damage to living tissue if it penetrates too deeply. Many sunscreens also contain harmful chemicals that are not listed in the ingredients. Even Zinc Oxide, which may be the safest sunscreen ingredient, has been shown to potentially generate free radicals upon sun exposure.
How Do We Protect Ourselves?
While no one wants a sunburn, experts are now admitting that the dangers of the sun have been largely exaggerated, while the benefits underestimated. Sun exposure is not as closely linked to skin cancer as previously thought, and other factors play a role in developing cancer, such as diet, environmental toxins and a lack of Vitamin D, in fact. Here are a few ideas to help avoid sunburns and still enjoy being in the sun…
- Limit time in the sun. Early in the season, your skin needs time to adjust to sun exposure, in order for your skin to produce its protective pigment (that results in a tan). After about 20 minutes to one hour, cover up with loose, white clothing. White clothing has been scientifically proven to help the body stay cooler than no clothing at all. Wear a hat.
- Consume more vitamin D. Your tolerance to sun exposure will increase and you will be protected against UV exposure if you take more vitamin D, in the form of whole foods of course, like Cod Liver Oil.
- Eat saturated fats. Healthy fats help your entire body, including your skin. Ingesting large amounts of stable fats like animal fats, coconut oil and olive oil will give you resilient skin. Fragile, processed oils like soybean oil, vegetable oil, shortening, hydrogenated oils, corn oil, margarine, sunflower oil and safflower oil will make your skin more sensitive to sun damage.
- Minerals in your diet are important. Eat bone broths and fresh, organic grass-fed liver to ensure you get enough trace minerals like zinc and magnesium. A lack thereof can cause photosensitivity and sun rashes.
- Use coconut oil topically. Polynesians frequently rubbed this precious oil on their bodies prior to long periods of sun exposure. Cold-pressed coconut oil contains powerful antioxidants and can be used daily all over the body to protect against damage from long-term sun exposure. It will block about 20 percent of the sun’s rays. (Tip: If you whip 1 cup coconut oil in a blender for 6-7 minutes, it will get thick and fluffy like body butter, and it will stay that way in a sealed container. Otherwise, coconut oil is solid below 72 degrees, and difficult to apply.)
- Take krill oil. Trials using human cells have shown krill oil, or astaxanthin, has protective effects on the skin. Think of it as an internal sunscreen that increases one’s ability to tan and decreases burning.
Above all, don’t be afraid of the sun. Slathering sunscreen all over your children and family daily may end up being more harmful to them than getting a tan. Use common sense and treat the sun with the respect humans have had to since the beginning, before SPF 60 existed.
Author’s Note: Thank you to Radiant Life for all this wonderful information about sunscreens and sun exposure. Most of this information was taken from the Radiant Life Blog.