It’s no news that the sun’s UV rays are widely considered to be the #1 external cause of visible aging, such as age spots, hyperpigmentation and sagging skin. When we look at how the skin is damaged by UV rays, it can be understood that the sun exerts carcinogenic effects on the skin, by causing oxidative stress, damage to our DNA, and ultimately, inflammation.
If we know that cellular inflammation can be mitigated by making certain food choices, would it also make sense that these same food choices would help fight UV damage?
It would, and in the case of Lycopene, a carotenoid antioxidant present in red and pink fruits such as tomato, grapefruit and papaya, it’s been proven true.
Lycopene, in vitro, has been shown to prevent or repair damage to DNA. Researchers have further tested if the antioxidant actions of lycopene in tomato paste could decrease the skin damage caused by UV radiation in humans by testing on a group of women. At the beginning of the 12 week study, a group of healthy women had their skin’s reddening response to UV light measured. They then consumed tomato paste daily, and at the end of 12 weeks, their skin’s resistance to UV-induced reddening was enhanced. Their consumption of the tomato paste also reduced mitochondrial DNA damage and reduced the degredation of the skin’s extracellular proteins, which contributes to visible signs of aging. The results of this study suggest that regular tomato consumption can help reduce the skin damaging effects of the sun.
Bottom line: Prepare for the summer months ahead with a good non-chemical SPF and a healthy diet incorporating brightly colored fruits and vegetables from the anti inflammatory diet.
What photoprotective foods do you eat?
1. Nichols, J.A. and S.K. Katiyar, Skin photoprotection by natural polyphenols: anti-inflammatory, antioxidant and DNA repair mechanisms. Arch Dermatol Res, 2010. 302(2): p. 71-83.
2. van Breemen, R.B. and N. Pajkovic, Multitargeted therapy of cancer by lycopene. Cancer Lett, 2008. 269(2): p. 339-51.
3. Rizwan, M., et al., Tomato paste rich in lycopene protects against cutaneous photodamage in humans in vivo. Br J Dermatol, 2010.