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Feed and Protect Your Largest Organ From The Inside Out

The skin is the largest, yet possibly most misunderstood organ of the human body. Skin cancer has become increasingly prevalent in the modern world. In the United States, there are more new cases of skin cancer each year than breast, prostate, lung, and colon cancer combined. Unfortunately, nearly half of Americans who live to the age of 65 will deal with skin cancer at some point in their lives.

These shocking statistics are accompanied by an increasing worry about sun exposure, and a sun care product market that grows each year. The consequence of strictly limiting sun exposure comes with its own concerns. Those who actively avoid all sun exposure are more likely to be deficient in the critical nutrient vitamin D. This is accompanied by its own health issues including immune system dysfunction and loss of bone density.

All of this has many people asking the question: what can be done to protect the body's largest organ from the inside and out?

Externally, using sunscreen may seem like the obvious answer. Recent data has demonstrated that this solution can present its own health concerns. In 2019, the FDA’s update on sunscreen safety classified only two commonly used ingredients as safe and effective. Many of the main ingredients used in sunscreen, such as oxybenzone, homosalate, and avobenzone, are considered endocrine disrupting and potentially carcinogenic. Studies show that these chemicals are absorbed into the bloodstream after one application and can persist for up to three weeks at concentrations that surpass the established safety threshold.

This is why many people turn to the world of holistic and natural health care.

For outside-in protection during peak exposure, consider the following safer brands of sunscreen: All Good, BeautyCounter, Kabana Organic, or Raw Elements. Check out the Environmental Working Group ( for in-depth safety ratings of a wide variety of options. Staying hydrated, wearing a wide brim hat along with light, long-sleeved clothing, and finding shade, are also protective options. For optimum vitamin D production, aim for 10-20 minutes of early to midday sun exposure before layering on the sun defenses.

Internally, the health of the skin is immensely impacted by dietary habits. Avoiding or limiting foods that promote inflammation and oxidation can have a positive impact on cancer, cardiovascular, and neurological health outcomes. Inflammatory oils such as vegetable and soybean oil, fried foods, processed carbohydrates, and foods with added sugar are detrimental to health and should be replaced.

Eating for skin health aligns with eating for overall health and wellness. Sources of healthy fat, including fatty fish, avocados, and walnuts, supply omega-3 fatty acids and vitamin E, making them potent anti-inflammatory foods. Green tea, dark chocolate, and berries are great sources of antioxidants, which help reduce the oxidative stress and cellular damage caused by free radicals.

Specific to skin, the old adage “eat the rainbow,” stands the test of time. The majority of protective antioxidants are found in richly colored produce. Deep orange foods like carrots, mangoes, sweet potatoes, and squash contain beta-carotene. Rich in lutein, kale, collards, and spinach benefit skin and eye health. Tomatoes, watermelon, and guava pack a punch of lycopene, which provides sun and cardiovascular protection. This summer, aim to consume ample brightly colored fruits and vegetables as a key component of skin health and sun protection.

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