Kicking the Sunburn Habit by Going Paleo?

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sunscreen, skin damage, sunburn, natural sunscreen, paleo health benefits
This is how I used to spend my summers. Not anymore!

I’ve always been a very fair skinned person.  Just the thought of sunlight would be enough to turn my skin a little pink.  And, I’m not proud to say it, but I’ve had more sunburns than I can remember.

So, I definitely took note when I read in The Primal Blueprint 21-Day Total Body Transformation (I believe it was that book, could’ve been another) that many people on the Paleo diet are less likely to get sunburns.  Seeing as I’ve always hated sunscreen, this gave my freckled skin a UVA-ray of hope (see what I did there?).

I did a little research on Google and, not surprisingly, was lead to an article on Mark’s Daily Apple entitled “8 Natural Ways to Prevent a Sunburn (And Sunscreen’s Not One of Them).”  In the article, Mark gives some anecdotal evidence of eight “primal” things that help those on the Paleo diet avoid sunburns.  I chose to focus on two in particular:

Eat Some Lycopene

Lycopene, that famous carotenoid found in tomatoes, has been shown in a recent in vivo RCT to protect humans against sun damage. Healthy women, aged 21-47, who ate 55 g of tomato paste containing 16 mg of lycopene every day for 12 weeks experienced significant protection against acute – and potentially long term – sun damage.

In an attempt to increase the amount of cooked tomatoes in my diet, I added roughly four tablespoons of no-salt-added tomato sauce to my breakfast smoothies.  Because I tend to use strong berries in the smoothies I didn’t taste a difference.

Drink Tea

Unsurprisingly, there’s also evidence that dietary green tea, specifically its polyphenols, inhibit the development of skin tumors by controlling inflammation and preventing DNA damage. Topical green tea extracts applied directly to the skin also offer photoprotection.

I’ve pretty much had always been a coffee drinking, though I had dabbled in green tea.  When I read this I decided to experiment and ditch the morning coffee and opt for green tea instead.

Naturally, by going Paleo I was already hitting on a lot of things on Mark’s list - eat saturated fat, increase Omega-3 intake while decreasing Omega-6, eat lots of shrimp and salmon.  All things considered, I was doing seven of the eight things.

How is it working out for me?  Long story short – great!  Just the other day I actually got a compliment from someone on my tan and how my skin was glowing.  I had to do a double-take to make sure the person giving the compliment wasn’t talking to someone else!

Granted, I’ve also tried to be smarter about being in the sun, spending more time outdoors in the morning and less time in direct sunlight in the afternoon.  That being said, I have no doubts that my change in diet has also played a role in not getting sunburns.

If you’re like me and burn relatively easily — or if you’re just looking for interesting reading — please make sure to check out Mark’s post:

Do you burn easily?  Have you noticed a difference since going Paleo?  Disagree with what I’ve said?  Leave a comment below!

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  1. says

    Have not had a sunburn in 14 months of Paleo despite having been on a Carribean Cruise and mowing my lawn and doing bodywork on my car for 2 hours at a time in full sun. I’m of English decent (blonde hair, blue eyes, fair skin) and I have a deep healthy tan!

    PLUS…. I feel awesome when coming in from the sun.

    • admin says

      Thanks for the comment, Matt, and glad to hear about no sunburn for 14 months! What “degree” of burn did you used to get before, i.e. would you turn lobster red if you were out in the sun for more than 15 minutes?

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