The New Zealand summer is glorious. We really have it good, don’t we? Beaches, green spaces, cafes, gardens, we have them and naturally we want to get out there and enjoy them! However, while we appreciate that you have surfing moves to show off, we’d also like to offer a gentle reminder that the NZ sun is famously harsh. Our latitude means we are very close to the sun during December and January while our ozone layer hole and, ironically, our less polluted atmosphere, means that more damaging ultraviolet (UV) rays make it through to land on kiwis enjoying the season.
Although you need some UV exposure to keep vitamin D levels optimum, excessive sunning is linked with serious health issues, including skin cancer and eye cancer. Scarily, 90% of skin cancer is linked to UV exposures. There are also less life-threatening reasons to be sun-smart. Yes, we are talking about UV skin damage, or ‘photoaging’, a major cause of sun spots and wrinkles. Of course you know to ‘slip-slop-slap: slip on a shirt, slop on some sunscreen and slap on a hat’ (and don’t forget the sunglasses!), but it’s less well known that what you put INTO your body can also help protect your skin from those vicious UV rays that want to age your appearance. Here are some easy tips for protecting your skin from within:
- Go easy on the alcohol. Not only does it dehydrate you, especially on a hot day, but it adds to the level of skin-damaging free radicals that your antioxidant defence systems have to deal with. Alcohol plus sun exposure is just bad news for skin elasticity and it’s easy to drink too much when you are feeling hot. Stay hydrated by having a glass of water between wines. Sparkling water with cucumber slices is very much a party drink.
- Get your beauty foods! As if nature knew that our skin needs extra protection at this time of year, summer coincides with an abundance of skin-loving foods. In particular the brightly coloured pigments in berries contain high quantities of antioxidant compounds such as carotenoids and anthocyanins that help counteract the collagen-destroying free radicals that form when UV rays attack. Berries also contain vitamin C which is not just an antioxidant but also helps boost collagen production. Other foods to enjoy in abundance for staying glowy are fruits, coloured vegetables, avocadoes and unroasted nuts and seeds.
- Go easy on the blackened sausages. The ‘maillard’ reaction that causes meat to brown on the BBQ also creates ‘advanced glycation end-products’, aptly nicknamed ‘AGE’s which can damage your skin from the inside. Although your skin needs protein, go for gently cooked meats and fish as well as lentils and beans. Get those chops off the Barbie before they go too far.
- Let’s talk chippies and chocolates and cakes. You don’t need us to tell you that refined and fried foods, full of sugar and trans fats are not ideal for your looks or your health. Think fresh with your daily nutrition, and keep the processed foods for a special treat. And when you do indulge, how about breaking out the Edmonds book and doing some home baking? Freshly made beats pre-prepared every time, and makes you very popular too.
- Boost your beauty with supplements. Here, we definitely have you covered. In particular our Collagen Infusion, Telomere Health product, CoQ10, the multi and the astaxanthin in our krill oil are powerful protectors when you are out and about this summer.
With a bit of planning, and following the simple tips above, you can get the best out of summer without damaging your skin in the process. As with most things health-related, it’s about finding the balance so you can indulge in summertime activities and still face Autumn looking fresh.