Chocolate For Skin Health? Yes Sir!

Chocolate ChunksThose of you who know me saw this coming from a mile away. Hmmm, wonder what the number one good-for-your-skin food is going to be?? It turns out that the cocoa in the chocolate that you love to love can also protect your skin from UV damage from the sun.
In a study in London, researchers gave two very happy subject groups chocolate to eat for 12 weeks. However, one of them received a high–flavanol chocolate, such as you might get with a high-cocoa chocolate. The second received a low-flavanol chocolate, such as you might get with lighter milk chocolates and “chocolate” confections. After 12 weeks, they tested the skin of these participants with a challenge of UV light to see whether the cocoa flavanols did anything more that make the subjects happy every day.
Over the 12 weeks of chocolate eating, the skin of those who ate the low-flavanol version was no more or less protected from UV radiation.
No change.
However, those who ate the high-flavanol chocolate doubled their protection compared to the baseline. In other words, after less than 2 weeks of eating high-flavanol chocolate, subjects’ skin was protected from burning even at twice the UV level. Why would this be? What explanation can make that make sense?
Why would this be? What could be going on physiologically that could explain the outcome? One rationale come from the fact that high-cocoa chocolate can increase microcirculation into the skin itself.
Increased blood flow to the topmost layers of the skin (those within only 1 millimeter of the surface) can provide the healthy oxygenation your skin needs to help protect itself.
Another potential route to skin protection could be the particular polyphenols (catechins and epicatechins) themselves. These specific antioxidants are also found in high concentrations in drinks like green tea, which have a well established effect on suppressing the effects of photoaging, UV-induced radiation, immunosuppression, and carcinogenic activity.

The precise biochemical blah bitty blah is less important for most people than learning that high cocoa chocolate is amazing for your heart, your mind, and now even your skin. In fact, you should treat it like your daily vitamin (vitamin Ch)!

Good-For-Your-Skin Foods!

Best Foods for Healthy Skin InfographicThe largest organ of your body is your skin. To care for this organ, so it can better take care of you, proper nutrition is important. But what foods are good for the skin?

One group of good-for-your-skin foods are those rich in omega-3 fatty acids. They can be found in, Anchovies, Mackerel, Salmon, Soybeans, Walnuts.

Another group of good-for-your-skin foods are those containing beta-carotene. The carotenes can become deposited in your skin, and serve as a natural sun block for you. Beta-carotene can be found in orange colored produce such as carrots, squash, papaya, and pumpkin.

Some of the tastiest good-for-your-skin foods are those high in water content! Proper hydration is important for skin health and can come from food sources such as fruits and vegetables. Watermelon, tomatoes, and cucumbers are over 90 percent water. To make sure you are properly hydrated, use your urine as an indicator. If it is not clear, you may be under-hydrated. Certain medications and supplements can affect the color as well.

 

Vitamin D, Foods, and Sun Safety Tips in the Summer versus Winter Months

Vitamin D sources infographicVitamin D is known as the “sunshine vitamin” because it is produced in your body when your skin is exposed to sunlight. However, there are times when this is not advisable or even possible.

If you have very fair skin and are susceptible to sunburn, you will need to protect yourself from exposure through sun screens and clothing that protects your skin area.

In addition, in winter months the angle of the sun’s rays are not direct enough to cause the reaction that creates Vitamin D. For this reason, it is important to add foods with vitamin D in them:

  • Salmon
  • Herring
  • Sardines
  • Tuna
  • Oysters
  • Shrimp
  • Egg yolks
  • Mushrooms (especially Shiitake)

To attain enough vitamin D, it is helpful to get a healthy amount of exposure to the sun. But the advice changes from summer to winter months.

Summer Months

If you are planning to be outside for many hours in a day, give yourself the first 10 minutes of sun exposure on your skin before applying sunscreen. This will allow it to produce vitamin D before blocking exposure by applying sunscreen.

 

Winter Months

During the winter months when the day lengths are shortest, your skin is not able to make vitamin D from sun exposure. Once the season moves into spring, try to give yourself at least 10 minutes outside with either your face or hands being exposed. Do this when the sun is highest, between 11am and 1pm.

Tips For Skin Protection From The Sun

Effect of UV rays on skin, infographicSunlight may feel wonderful on your skin, but too much exposure to the UV rays can encourage skin cancers. In fact, the World Health Organization explains that up to 2 to 3 million people globally now have non-melanoma skin cancer (which is the less aggressive form), and approximately 132,000 now have the more aggressive melanoma form.

Research also indicates that extended sun exposure can contribute to cataracts — an eye condition that causes cloudy and blurred vision. Review and implement these tips to aid in the prevention of cancer and cataracts.

The amount of time you can safely spend in the sun depends on many factors: the season, the altitude, and the tone of your skin.

  • During summer months, when you are closer to the equator, and at higher altitudes the sun’s rays move through less atmosphere, making it more likely that they can damage your skin.

That said, a good rule of thumb is to prevent your skin from getting a sunburn.

  • If you feel that you will be exposed to the sun long enough for your skin type to burn, wear sunscreen, hats, and sleeves.
  • Don’t forget to protect your eyes by wearing sunglasses that block UV radiation from the sun.
  • When considering sun screen — how much to apply, what strength, and for how long, it’s best to start more liberal in your use to avoid burns and the skin damage it can cause.

Be particularly aware of the potential for sun damage to your skin during the summer months, and at higher latitudes.