Four Nutrition Tips for Glowing, Summer Skin


Summertime means spending more time outside. This is the time of year when people enjoy working in the yard, running after work, or – my favorite – being by the pool or ocean. However, in the extreme summer heat we endure in the South, protecting our skin is of upmost importance.

Our skin is more susceptible to the risk of skin cancers and sun damage (sunburn and premature aging of the skin) with prolonged sun exposure. General guidelines to protect the skin are to apply sunscreen of 30 SPF, consistently wear sun protection clothing and hats, and avoid sun exposure during the hottest part of the day – between 10:00 a.m. and 2:00 p.m.

Did you know nutrition also plays an important role in protection against the sun? Good nutrition helps keep skin healthy from the inside out. Below are my top four nutrition tips for added protection from the sun.

Stay Hydrated
Don’t wait until you’re thirsty. Drink water throughout the day to prevent dehydration. Dehydration promotes fine lines, wrinkles and flaky, dry skin. It also depletes energy and can be dangerous if left untreated. The color of your urine can help you discern if you are hydrated – dark urine indicates dehydration, so the lighter the color, the better.

Watch Out for Alcohol and Caffeine
Alcoholic beverages might taste good when you are out in the hot sun but alcohol dehydrates the body. Like alcohol, caffeine also depletes moisture from the body. If you have alcohol or caffeine, limit the amount and alternate with plenty of water to replenish what you are losing.

Eat A Rainbow of Fruits and Veggies
Fruits and veggies are rich in phytonutrients and antioxidants, and many are important for the skin to best defend, repair and rejuvenate itself. Sun exposure actually decreases antioxidant concentration in the body so remember to maintain a consistent intake of fruits and veggies every single day to stay armed for vacation days with a lot of sun exposure.

The colors of fruits and vegetables also contain pigments that serve to keep your skin healthier:

  • Orange/Yellow – Orange and yellow foods are rich in beta-carotene and aids the skin in building defenses to block harmful UV rays. Beta-carotene rich food sources include sweet potatoes, carrots, mangos, cantaloupe and peaches.
  • Red – The red pigment, lycopene, found in watermelon and tomatoes can help provide protection against sunburn. Both of these foods are easy to find and enjoy in the summer.
  • Green – Dark leafy greens are high in carotenoids as well as Vitamin E, which also helps protect the skin from UV damage. Cold leafy salads or sautéed greens are an easy side dish to add to lunch or summer meals, as well as green and black teas can help decrease the risk of skin cancer. Try a pitcher of green tea (sweetened with a little honey or stevia) infused with mint or fruit of your choice.

Throw Tuna or Salmon on the Grill
Salmon and tuna are high in omega-3 fatty acids, which can help reduce inflammation and protect skin from sunburn and melanoma. If you are a vegetarian, dark leafy greens as well as chia, hemp or flax seeds contain omega-3 fatty acids.

The skin is the largest organ in the body and works best when treated properly on the inside as well as the outside. By eating nutrient rich foods that help protect the skin, drinking enough water to stay properly hydrated, slathering on sunscreen, wearing protective clothing, and limiting overexposure to the sun, you can have that awesome summer glow without damaging your skin.

For more information on adopting healthier lifestyle changes, contact Kitty Finklea, lifestyle coach, registered dietitian and personal trainer at McLeod Health and Fitness Center, (843) 777-3000.