Sun damaged skin? Add more of these to your diet...
Who heads off on a beach break without packing at least one bottle of SPF cream? These days it goes into the suitcase as standard, yet we didn't always use to be so careful with our skin...
I have vivid memories of a particular sun-worshipping aunt who, back in the 70s, used to baste herself in vegetable oil before baking outside in full sun for several hours, as well as several childhood incidents when I was too sunburned to sleep and the top layers of my skin peeled from my shoulders in big flaky curls. Not good!
Fortunately now we're far more savvy about protecting our skin from the sun's rays when we're outdoors. But what about the damage our skin has already sustained, either from the innocent era pre-slip-slap-slop education or from more recent sun exposure and tanning attempts?
Researchers, as ever, are on the case. And, perhaps strangely, some of the most interesting discoveries in skin healing have been made by food scientists exploring how our diets tend to affect our general health. It all boils down to that old chestnut: we are what we eat!
British grown tomatoes
Known as a superfood for skin healing, ripe tomatoes are rich in vitamin C and a source of vitamin A, proven to support a strong immune system and promote the replacement of damaged skin with healthy new skin cells. The bright, beautiful red tomato colour is a pigment and phytochemical called lycopene, an powerful antioxidant that helps protect our arteries and so ensures nutrients and oxygen get to the skin quickly for faster healing.
As with all fruits and vegetables, the recommendation is to eat them as freshly harvested as possible to gain the most nutritional value, so go local wherever you can for a shorter journey from polytunnel to plate.
Easy ways to add more to your diet: Toss a handful of cherry tomatoes through a salad, add extra tomato sauce to your pizza and pasta or munch your crisps and crudités with a spicy tomato salsa dip.
British grown carrots
Carrots help you see in the dark? Um, well, no... it's a bit of a myth, sparked off by carrot propaganda from the Second World War featuring a British fighter pilot known as John "Cat's Eyes" Cunningham.
On the other hand, the humble British carrot packs a powerful punch of nutrition for the skin, hair and, yes, the eyes! Beta-carotene and caretenoids, the natural orange pigment in carrots, supply the body with the necessary nutrients to repair damaged tissue, such as sunburnt skin, as well as helping to prevent wrinkles and uneven skin tone caused by the sun's UV rays.
Next time you feel like you've caught the sun, why not drink a little carrot juice to give your body more of the right stuff to set about healing any skin damage?
Easy ways to add more to your diet: Stir-fry 'em, grate them into a tasty coleslaw, dip one whole into a jar of mayonnaise or peanut butter as a messy snack, mash 'em as a low carb substitute for spuds, add finely chopped carrot to your tomatoey pasta sauce or try this tangy Indian carrot salad as a side when you next cook curry.