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Protect your skin this summer

Skin 3The sun is finally out and we are all excited to be outside and in our gardens. With the oncoming summer weather, the time to take precautions for our skin health is upon us as well. Our skin is a mighty organ protecting us from all sorts of onslaughts. It protects us from bacterial invasion, many kinds of injuries by forming scabs, alerts us to temperature changes by cooling us with sweating or dilating our blood vessels to retain heat when we need it, producing melanin, a skin pigment protecting us from UV radiation, and notifying the immune system warriors when anything goes amiss. We shed millions of skin cells daily that are replaced by underlying tissue to keep us healthy. A fifteen to twenty minute exposure to the sun enables our skin cells to develop Vitamin D that can be stored in our tissues. There are many more activities our skin accomplishes for us each day, so we want and need to keep it healthy.

Overexposure to the sun, however, can damage skin cells leading to sunburn, skin shedding, and pain. This also causes leakage of cellular membranes and their contents. Such continual damage over time may lead to skin cancer known as melanoma.

Sunscreens provide some protection, but may need to be reapplied often depending upon duration of exposure and activities such as swimming that will remove the protection. Sun protection factor (SPF) relates to the time the lotion protects against sunburning. For example, SPF 15 protects for about 5 hours. The higher the SPF number, the longer the protection. It is still recommended to wear protective clothing, hats, and sunglasses when being out in the sun for long times.

We all want to have radiant looking skin and appreciate the effects of tanning on our overall looks. Moderation in exposure is key. Too much too often leads to early wrinkling and skin damage later on in life.

Diet is critical for healthy skin as well as the rest of our body. Whole, fresh foods provide those vital vitamins, minerals, enzymes, trace minerals, complex carbohydrates, and fiber. Whole grains, dark leafy greens, rich colorful fruits and vegetables, deep cold water seafood, and beans and legumes make for healthy skin and bodies. The smorgasbord of summer fruits and vegetables makes it easy to nourish our skin throughout the summer.

Avoid processed and refined foods, fried foods, hydrogenated oils and fats containing trans-fatty acids so damaging to cell function such as margarine and shortenings. Limit those fun foods like donuts, pastries, white flour and rice foods as these do not nourish the body but instead tax detoxification pathways through the liver.

Increase zinc and selenium rich foods found in seeds and nuts, fish, ginger, artichokes, eggs, squash, Brazil nuts, and shellfish.   Also increase Omega 3 fatty acids found in salmon, flaxseeds, and flaxseed oil, the most common sources.

Finally, hydrate, hydrate, hydrate with clean filtered water. Your skin and your whole body will love you and you will have beautiful skin all summer long.

Krystle Shapiro, LMT, MSHN owns NewTritionally Yours! providing nutritional education classes for designing your own diet. She can be reached at (208) 290-6760.  

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