Hot sunny days after the cold and grey hibernation of winter are truly one of life’s simple pleasures. They even makes us happier because the ultra-violet radiation from the sun helps our bodies release endorphins! Although we’re told from numerous sources to limit our time spent in the sun, it’s important to know that we need sun exposure. It helps our bodies produce vitamin D, which is essential for immunity and overall health: vitamin D helps with mood, immunity, heart health, inflammation, glucose metabolism and even hypertension; it’s even been linked to the prevention of certain types of cancers. To get your daily dose of vitamin D, the good news is that you only need about 10 minutes of sun exposure.
But if you’re planning on soaking up the sun any longer than that, then you need to make sure you’re using proper sun protection. Our favourite form of sunscreens are the physical type, which use mineral-based ingredients like zinc oxide and/or titanium dioxide to reflect UVA and UVB rays. We tend to choose these over chemical sunscreens, because the latter can contain chemicals that are endocrine disrupters, allergens and can irritate your skin. Another thing to think about is that these chemicals are released into the water you swim in, and if that happens to be an ocean, lake or sea, they can cause damage to marine life. So make sure to do your research, and find a natural sunscreen brand that fits your needs.
Aside from sunscreen, if you’re spending the day in the sun, grab a hat to protect your scalp and face, wear some sunglasses and try to spend time in the shade as well. This will help protect your skin from sun damage, and also protect you from heat stroke or exhaustion on those really hot summer days.
You can even boost your SPF internally, by making sure your warm weather diet consists of foods with high levels of anti-inflammatory properties and antioxidants. These phytonutrients help fight free radicals in our bodies, which in turn will help to reduce any oxidative damage that can be caused by sun exposure. So fill up on fruits, vegetables, leafy greens, extra virgin olive oil, nuts, matcha and cacao for an internal sun protection boost!
Bottom line is that with the right tools, we can get our daily dose of vitamin D, while making sure our skin is protected from sun damage with safe natural and products, and a few lifestyle tricks.
Julia Gibson is a Certified Nutritional Practitioner, functional foods recipe developer, and write currently based in Toronto. She hopes to inspire and empower others by creating nourishing foods, living a sustainable life, promoting holistic healing and sharing thoughtful writing.
photo by @cecealana