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!)

 

 

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.

Reversing osteoporosis

I got this from Jackie on my customer support team:

“We’ve been getting a lot of people asking about whether you can reverse osteoporosis. Can you address this on the blog?”

First of all, we have to stop believing, as a culture, that drinking cow’s milk is some kind of insurance against osteoporosis. The U.S. has one of the highest rates of osteoporosis in the world AND the highest dairy consumption! The other highest rates of osteoporosis in the world are the other highest dairy-consuming nations. (Perhaps this is partly because in North America and Europe, we don’t get enough bone-building Vita D from the sun–but clearly guzzling milk by the gallon isn’t helping us build strong bone.)

Some of the lowest rates of the disease are found in countries that consume NO dairy products, such as in African nations where it’s virtually unheard of.

Dairy products have calcium that is about 32% bioavailable to humans, whereas leafy greens are over 60% bioavailable. (Plus dairy products are mucous-forming, they are pasteurized to kill all the helpful enzymes, and full of bovine pus, antibiotics, and growth hormones.

An exception to all those problems is to buy raw, organic milk and make kefir or yogurt from it. The fermenting process breaks the proteins down and avoids the body’s reaction of producing mucous to flush it out.)

So if we need more useable calcium rather than more calcium, greens are the most bioavailable source. I don’t mean to sound like a broken record here, but greens cover a multitude of sins.

And let’s not forget about our soda-drinking habit. If we’re guzzling pop by the liter, we’re draining the bones of calcium because of the massive amounts of phosphorus the body has to work overtime to neutralize. Check out my sources in Ch. 1 of 12 Steps to Whole Foods: kids who drink sodas have three to four times higher risk of bone fracture than kids who don’t. Kids only gain bone mass for 20 years or so, so it’s a crime to let them drink soda. “You can’t recapture your youth” has another important meaning…..you get only once chance to build bone mass.

I can’t promise anybody they’ll reverse anything. That wouldn’t be ethical. Prevention is easier than reversal. But I will tell you that I get emails EVERY SINGLE DAY about exciting stories of chronic conditions reversing, using the practices I teach.

I often have readers of my blog say, when I see them in public, “Is it really true you wore glasses when you were 20 and now you have 20/20 vision at 43?” I don’t know if I have 20/20 vision, but I did 4 years ago when I was last checked. And I didn’t have surgery or any other corrective actions.

I don’t know why that happened except that I juiced or blended vegetable and green juices for years and now eat 20+ servings of vegetables, greens, and fruits every day.

You can take MSM, or chondroitin, or whatever, to reverse osteoporosis, but I don’t think the studies show impressive results. What I have much more faith in is food and good lifestyle practices. Don’t drink or smoke. Breathe fresh air, find ways to release stress like yoga, let go of anger and guilt and resolve your emotional issues, and drink lots of water.

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.

Weston Price Foundation versus The China Study

A yahoo group I belong to, “Natural LDS Women,” is having a debate about the “science” of the Weston Price Foundation, versus The China Study.” A recent poster said that with scientific “facts” so conflicting, you really just have to pray about it and go with your gut. “LDS” means Mormon (my religion), and in this post I refer to the famous before-its-time scripture known as the Word of Wisdom, as I have in other places in my writings, about nutrition:

I rarely have time to respond to yahoo groups even though I follow some threads, but this morning I responded with this posting, about the two research titans, about research in general, and about navigating the “science” versus “gut” decision making tension:

The first people to tell you there are no scientific “facts” are scientists themselves. We have evidence, but not proof. Good science is hard to come by. In the modern world, the vast majority of our “science” (not even qualifying as “facts”) is bought and paid for. That is, the science looks objective but is funded by someone with a profit motive.

Industries paying for lots of research such as pharmaceuticals, dairy, meat, or processed foods (four huge industries that are very powerful) may have sifted through a lot of data and cherry picked whatever makes them look good, for promotion and publication.

Studies begin to become compelling when they are valid and reliable, the two highest standards in research. Briefly, VALID means the study truly measures what it purports to measure. (If a study saying wine consumption reduces heart disease is valid, it will have controlled for the fact that wine drinkers are more affluent than beer drinkers–so they also eat more fruits and vegetables. That’s hard to do!) RELIABLE means the research study was repeatable with consistent results.

The China Study is one of the most reliable studies I have ever encountered. Colin Campbell (PhD, Cornell) conducted the original animal studies, but other researchers all over the world copied them with the same results, over and over. Then he found similar findings in humans–in a huge study of 6,500 people spanning now 30 years (so the study is also longitudinal–that’s expensive and very rare in research, but one of the ways to achieve validity).

When you see a study saying oatmeal prevents heart disease, you don’t run out and buy all the oatmeal you can and knock every other good thing out of your diet. You watch and wait until you see lots of OTHER studies showing the same thing. You have a healthy skepticism about what you read–open minded, keen eye looking for more data. You are waiting for further light and knowledge. And you use your common sense. (For instance, in this case, “Well, I know that UNREFINED oats have bran and germ–vitamins, minerals, and fiber–so it’s good. But other grains have the same thing, so I’ll keep using them, too.”)

Vitamin D is one of those issues. The first time I read a study that those getting more sun get vastly less cancer, I was intrigued but skeptical. Now, more and more research is coming out with consistent conclusions, and I am beginning to believe strongly that getting more Vitamin D is critical to the strength of our immune systems, to our ability to minimize disease risk, to our ability to build and maintain bone mass. And it’s hard to get enough D in places with long winters, or for people who aren’t outside much–without supplementation. It has given me pause, since I have not been much of a fan of taking vitamin supplements in the past. Now that it’s cold here in Utah, I can’t get sun. I took a Quest Diagnostics baseline test during my peak of sun exposure in July, and now I’m supplementing with Vitamin D tablets and will test again in Feb. or Mar. I want to know if my synthetic Vita D consumption actually is utilized in my own body.

Double blinded, placebo-controlled studies are the best. Peer reviewed articles in journals are the best. Even they are not foolproof, though. Plenty of flawed research has been published in the most prestigious journals of the world. Studies that have had to be pulled back when their flaws are revealed. Good research is extremely hard to achieve. It’s meticulous, it’s difficult to isolate one factor, and above all, it’s time consuming and expensive.

This is not the place to go into why I vastly prefer the more recent, more thorough work in The China Study to the much older, much more flawed, much more biased work the Weston Price Foundation has done.

But let me say this, briefly: the findings of China Study match the LDS Word of Wisdom that we discuss in this yahoo group and are a fan of. Campbell’s studies weren’t meat eaters versus vegetarians. They were meat eaters (20%, matching the Standard American Diet in that respect at least) versus eating meat sparingly, in times of winter, cold, and famine. (Language culled from D&C 89, The Word of Wisdom.) Following the Word of Wisdom wins–with more than 200 statistically significant findings. (That means that the margin of error is NOT the reason for the finding.)

Yes, pray and receive revelation to guide your journey through what is admittedly a CONFUSING path in nutrition and health. But also be smart, savvy, educated consumers of information. Some research–though NONE of it qualifies as “fact”–is better than others.

That’s my $0.02. With that and a quarter, you can buy a phone call.

Robyn
GreenSmoothieGirl.com