Natural Suntanning and Sunburn Prevention and Relief

aloh veraRodale News reported recently on foods that can (a) prevent sunburn, and (b) treat sunburn.

I love to slather fresh aloe vera on it.

(Even if you don’t have a green thumb, you must have an aloe plant in your house. They are succulents and hard to kill. I’ve had mine for 15 years. Every time I burn my finger in the kitchen or get a sunburn, I cut off a stem and slice it in half. It cools, relieves pain, and helps a burn not bubble and peel. Usually the next day, it’s become a tan for me.)

Vit_D-SunI was very pale and never tanned, as a child. Because I’m in the sun constantly now, due to running, tennis, and being a baseball mom, my skin has learned how to tan. We need 20 minutes of sun, daily, as often as possible, for Vitamin D, which is the #1 correlate to cancer risk. High Vita D correlates to low cancer risk. After you’ve been in the sun, don’t shower for several hours, if possible. Otherwise you wash off the substance on your skin that your body converts to Vitamin D.

But because I drink fresh-made juice with carrots and beets and lots of greens and alkaline veggies (celery, cucumbers), I also don’t burn much any more. The red and orange pigments in beets and carrots not only color my skin to mimic a tan, but they also act as a natural preventative against sunburn.

The Rodale News report said these help, too:

  1. Dark Chocolate: high-cacao content is key. Will Clower, PhD, author of Eat Chocolate, Lose Weight, suggests eating 70 grams a day of 70-percent cacao. It doubles the amount of UV that is required to get a sunburn!
  2. Eating organic tomatoes protect your skin against sun damage. In one study, those who ate 5 Tbsp of tomato paste daily for 3 months enjoyed 25 percent more protection against sunburn.
  3. White vinegar is a good topical, non-steroidal, anti-inflammatory drug. It will kill the pain for 20 minutes.
  4. Blend up a cucumber and apply it to the skin, mixed with glycerine for sun protection, or soothing protection.
  5. Pomegranates are rich in ellagic acid, which protects skin against UVA- and UVB-induced cell damage. They are anti-inflammatory and high in antioxidants. Eat them in the summer!
  6. Green tea (one of my favorite occasional drinks in hot weather) is high in catechin compounds that help protect against the sun’s harmful radiation. The used tea bags are good on the skin for sunburn relief, too.
  7. Oatmeal soothes a sunburn. You can grind it up and put it in the bathtub. I got my kids through the chicken pox with oatmeal baths, which calmed them considerably.

physical-chemicalFinally, get a physical sunblock cream instead of the chemical sunscreens in the mass market, which are highly toxic. Green Screen is one brand sold in health food stores that doesn’t use carcinogenic chemicals.

The physical sunblock creams don’t “rub in” easily and can have a white sheen on the skin for a little while after application. (You can buy a tinted product, too.)But I think it’s possible that chemical sunscreens cause as much cancer as sunburns do, in some cases. (They have many chemicals added that are known carcinogens and endocrine disruptors. And, they absorb into your bloodstream, so they’re metabolized just like food!)

 

 

15 Ways I Optimize Health and Energy Every Day—Besides Good Food! (part 3 of 4)

physical touch6. GET REGULAR PHYSICAL TOUCH.

Sex is an important part of a healthy life, and people with good, monogamous sexual relationships are more likely to have good emotional and physical health. But part of the reason why is due to the fact that their need for physical touch is being met.

Everyone has read about how babies and young children need touch almost as much as they need food and water. It is actually critical to our survival. Babies in orphanages who are never touched wither away, do not develop normally, and sometimes die or have severe personality disorders.

One way that I have met this need since becoming single 5 years ago, is with massage. (That’s right, I’m not afraid to admit it. When I’m not in an intimate relationship, I PAY for appropriate physical touch! It accomplishes some of the same benefits.)

My daughters aren’t huggers, but luckily, my sons are. I constantly hug and love on my boys. And, a little, on my girls, when they let me. Intimacy, for women, is accomplished far more through touch, than through sexual release. Men who figure this out early have stronger marriages.

Give and Serve7. GIVE AND SERVE EVERY DAY.

To people who least expect it. When no one is looking. To people who don’t deserve it from you. And especially people who do! Expect nothing in return. Little is more satisfying and more conducive to your OWN good health, than service. Serve when it’s inconvenient, when you don’t feel like it, when you’re tired. Not always—it’s okay to take care of you!—but sometimes.

Smile and wave at someone who flips you off, when you’re driving. Love better, love more, find new ways to love. Observe the ways your family and friends want to be loved, and meet them there–rather than giving love your own preferred way. Spend a whole day in service. Find a janitor or a server or a bus driver and tell them how much you appreciate their work.

Acknowledge your innate selfishness. (Me, too.) And then feel the full measure of your humanity—what differentiates us from animals—when you do the right thing for someone else even though you had 20 pressing things on your to-do list and the personal sacrifice is significant.

sweat9. BREAK A SWEAT EVERY DAY.

Maybe you’re like me and it doesn’t feel like a workout unless you’ve done it for 60 minutes. Or maybe you spend only 20 minutes in high-intensity workout like my very fit friend Dr. Jared Nielsen. Whatever method you wish! As the actor Matthew McConaghey said, whom I always quote, “break a sweat every day!”

Take one or two days off, per week, but not more. Do something you like, at least some of the time. (I admit, I put my time in, running, which I don’t particularly enjoy, and on the boring stationery bike in hotel gyms. That’s what books, and iPods, are for! But I also do things I love, like cycling and tennis and Zumba.)

The body wants to sweat, it wants to move, it wants to be outdoors. Breaking a sweat is key to getting on top of mood disorders. Sex and exercise yield the best endorphins—and even single people can get those endorphins with the latter activity, anytime!

daylight-benefits10. GET IN THE SUN.

There is no substitute. Take your Vitamin D3 in the winter, great idea—but we still need sunshine. Human beings were used to getting regular sunshine until the past couple of generations. With the shift away from an agricultural society, populations, in general,  now spend the majority of their time indoors.

Turns out, it is a misconception that people should stay out of the sun and/or slather themselves with sunscreen. In fact, the #1 correlate for cancer risk is how far from the Equator you are! The further away, the less sun, the higher the cancer risk. High Vitamin D levels actually correlate to low cancer risk.

Lack of sunshine is also a perfect recipe for depression. In the last two decades, a diagnosis of “Seasonal Affective Disorder” is practically an epidemic. That’s because people who live far from the Equator, with long, overcast winters, are living in conditions that few humans ever have—totally indoors. Our biology demands sunshine and everything that comes with it—hands in the black dirt, grounding us, breathing clean air, and feeling the warm sun on our skin. Don’t wash that Vitamin D off when you come inside. It takes hours for it to internalize, as hormone, and work with calcium to build bone.

Stuff you’ve gotta know about Vitamin D

 

Did you know that Vitamin D isn’t really a vitamin? It’s more like a hormone.

(It’s a precursor for the mineral calcium, which has more functions for human beings than any other mineral.)

Did you know that after you go in the sun, your body needs a few hours to convert the substances collected on your skin to Vitamin D in the body?

(Hardly anyone knows this. That’s why I’m writing this blog. It’s a tip that could actually be lifesaving.)

If you’re going to get Vita D from the sun, get regular exposure during daylight hours, and then don’t take a shower for several hours!

Tank up on it during the spring, summer, and fall. Then, during the winter, take 5,000 to 10,000 IU of D3. You got that? D3, not D2!

The most assimilable forms will be in olive oil capsules, rather than hard pills.

Too many of us get very little of it, because we’re office workers who never get outside, or we live in climates with intemperate weather much of the year.

Next post, I’m writing a little about THYROID hormone, which affects many if not most American women—and some men, too.

Independence Day, part 2 of 2

So I told you my dad is the most rad dude ever. He is unfailingly positive. In fact, if you’re grumpy, he just gets MORE peppy and smiley. He epitomizes the idea that work is a blessing, because he embraces hard work.

Forgive me if I’ve told this story before. As a teenager, my dad sprayed his grandfather’s cherry orchards in the summers, in Santaquin, Utah. Back then they didn’t even wear masks! And they were spraying Malathion, a pesticide so carcinogenic, so deadly that the U.S. banned it many years ago. Dad told me a story once of turning, as he was spraying, and getting sprayed full in the face accidentally by his brother Ron–into his mouth and eyes, even–with those deadly, now-illegal chemicals.

So why doesn’t my dad have cancer? Instead he’s a 67-year old runner (even if I kicked his trash last Monday in a race) enjoying retirement. No knee issues.

For that matter, I am fairskinned and have basically refused to stay out of the sun (because of tennis/running) since I was young. From 16-20, I sunbathed in a bikini almost daily, from April to October every year. I’d burn and burn and burn, until I finally tanned. So why have I never had any skin cancer?

The answer to both questions, I think, is LIFESTYLE. My dad eats mostly plant foods. My parents’ diet isn’t as stellar as it was when I was young. But they eat little animal protein and processed food. They eat homemade kefir and drink alkaline water.

With massive raw plant food in the diet, you are mopping up free radicals instead of letting them grow into cancer.

Remember in The China Study (Oxford/Cornell), all of the mice and rats were injected with aflatoxin, a very carcinogenic compound (mold). But only the rodents fed a 20% animal protein diet actually developed cancer. Those fed a very low animal-protein diet (5%) were lively and healthy past their prime. Enzymes, vitamins, minerals–found abundantly in raw greens, vegetables, fruits, sprouts–prevent cancer from growing.

So my dad had off-the-charts Malathion exposure, and I had 100+ sunburns before age 20. This is very similar to the animals’ carcinogen exposure in the Oxford-Cornell project. Carcinogens can be neutralized effectively if the body’s natural weapons are in place.   You must FEED your body’s natural defenses, not burn them out.

Eat plants. It helps the earth, since your consumption of resources is 1/20th what a meat eater’s is. But if you know someone with cancer, you know that disease is hell on earth. And eating plants is your best cancer prevention.

(p.s. How much is 5% of your diet? As an example, for me, since I burn 1600 calories per day without exercise, that’s 80 calories. 80 calories is ½ cup of low-fat yogurt or 4 oz. of fish/chicken. That’s the average for a 5’8″, 130-135 lb. woman.)

Vitamin D update

So I told you last summer I was doing a Vitamin D experiment and that I’d report back. After a summer in the sun playing tennis and running, I was tanned and probably as high in Vitamin D as I would get in a year.

I get a moderate amount of sun (while trying to avoid being burned) because (a) I love playing sports outside and (b) I think the sun helps us avoid cancer, have strong bones, and a strong immune system, among other things. I took the high-accuracy Vitamin D blood test and scored quite high, a 79. I asked my LNP who interprets these test results for a grade like you’d get in school, for that score, since I can’t find a chart. She gave me a B+. She said many people have extremely low scores, like 5 or 10.

So the next part of my experiment was to take Vita D (pill form) through the winter. I was out of the sun the entire 8 months except for a few sunny days in Peru, and a day or two of spring skiing lately. I had never taken Vita D in my life, and I hadn’t taken a vitamin supplement of any kind for years.

So I took 3,000 IU Vitamin D daily, for 8 months (a very conservative amount). My score was a 61 when I went back for the test last week.

So my Vitamin D level fell–a lot–because the synthetic version does not help me anywhere near as well (if at all) as the natural way (sunshine) does.

This is certainly in keeping with my assumption, that natural ways to get vitamins, antioxidants, minerals, enzymes–are superior and are utilized much more efficiently and effectively by the body.

I wonder about lots of things. First, should I take 5,000 IU instead? (Was my dose too low?) I can’t answer that based on this experiment, and you can overdose on Vita D. I’m going to take 5,000 IU next winter. Second, how do I know that my level of 61 isn’t the exact same it would be if I didn’t supplement? I can’t know that.

What I do know is that the sun gave me a close-to-optimal amount of Vita D.

Dear GSG: Why is the media always telling us one thing and then the opposite about nutrition?

Answer: I know it’s frustrating.   I get this gripe all the time, and some people use it to dismiss all information about nutrition altogether and just eat whatever tastes good: “they don’t know what they’re talking about anyway.”

Well, by “they” (first they tell us one thing, then another), we mean science, right?   Science is always evolving, always learning new things.   The perfect example is what is happening in research recently regarding sunshine and Vitamin D.

You grew up, like me, being told not to get in the sun because it causes skin cancer.   We were taught that sunscreen was our friend, and we slathered it on.   Well, I didn’t, but everyone else did.   I felt guilty.   But I cannot stand the stuff–I have a phobia of it, really.   I can’t even stand to touch it to put it on my children.   Just a weird little neurosis (they learned early to put it on themselves, and of course I used the sprays on them).

Now many studies–not just one or two–tell us that getting enough sun exposure is actually critical for cancer defense and immunity. That if we can’t get in the sun close to year-round, we should take 5,000 mg. of Vitamin D supplementation daily.

The reason we get different information is that we’re post-Information Age, constantly getting new data. It’s a GOOD thing. But we have to be smart enough to sift through data–the good, the bad, and the dubious. The dubious, set it aside until you receive further data to support or contradict it. The bad, realize that lots of “research” has a profit motive and doesn’t deserve your attention. With Vitamin D and the sun, to refer back to my example, it’s becoming an avalanche of empirical evidence pointing in the same direction–that sunshine is good for us. (Sunshine, not sunburn.)

Any other issues you’re confused about, I’d be happy to talk about. Or research, if I don’t know enough about it yet.