12 June 2012

Simple Summer: How to Fight Sunburn Naturally

Summer is the best time of the year - sun is shining,  spirits are high, and we are happily visiting beaches and mountains, exposing ourselves to the merciless sunlight that can sometimes be so harmful.

I must admit that I am yet to get used to the thin ozone layer above Norway and have not yet changed my habit of sunbathing in any spare moment. In fact, my daily routine is often subjected to the weather. If it is sunny and quiet, you will find me outside, soaking in the sun. 

The dark side of the sun
It is known that sensible, moderate sun exposure is beneficial for the production of vitamin D. And vitamin D plays a major role in bone health and reducing the risk of cancer, heart disease, stroke, diabetes, autoimmune diseases, and more.

Even if we ignore the long-term effect of excessive exposure to sunlight (which is unfortunately skin cancer), there is something that happens pretty quickly after we overdo our stay under the sun. And that is sunburn.

Photo: spisharam
Tomatoes for healthy skin
I found a great natural remedy for sunburn and you will be surprised to learn its name - tomato! Not only is it natural and cheap but most probably you already have it in your kitchen.

According to scientific tests, eating tomatoes helps protect against sunburn and skin ageing caused by sunlight exposure.

The most important ingredient for your skin is lycopene - the natural pigment that makes tomatoes red - with highest levels found in processed or cooked tomatoes used in ketchup, paste, soup and juice.

Lycopene is a powerful antioxidant, which can reduce the inflammatory response to UV damage by neutralising harmful molecules that are produced in the skin. It also works great against osteoporosis, breast and prostate cancer.

According to a study by Newcastle University, women eating a diet rich in processed tomatoes had increased skin protection, as seen by a reduction in skin redness and less DNA damage from UV exposure.

Compared with another group of women who were on a different diet, the tomato-eating group had 33% more protection against sunburn in the form of less redness.

The protection offered by the tomato paste was calculated to be equivalent to a sunscreen with a sun protection factor (SPF) of 1.3.

While eating tomato soup cannot make us invincible to the sun it could prove to be a very useful addition to sun protection along with sunscreen, shade and clothing.

What other natural sources of sun protection have you found useful?