Australia's sunny weather certainly has its perks regarding consistent food production all year round. Sunshine makes Australia what it is - an abundant, laid-back, enjoyable place to live and holiday. While many Aussies and overseas visitors are aware of the sun's harshness; slipping, slopping, slapping, seeking, and sliding whenever they can, many don't realise that there is another way we can protect ourselves from the sun; by eating nutrient-rich Aussie fruits that boost skin health.
Australia grows some of the best produce in the world, with farmland covering 61% of the continent's landmass, accounting for more than half of the world's certified organic hectares.
Aussie fruits are not only delicious and fresh but packed with essential vitamins and minerals to help our skin recover from damage and resist the impact of sun exposure. What you eat plays a massive role in your well-being, and if you're looking for some inspiration for ways to boost your skin health, read on to discover what produce to pack for your next beach day.
What is skin damage?
Skin damage can appear as redness, pigmentation, wrinkles, sunspots, or premature ageing, brought about by exposure to UVA rays. Some elements of your diet can improve your skin’s health, allowing it to heal from the aesthetic damage caused by the sun. Read on to discover more.
Why Australia's fruits are a powerful tool for fighting skin damage
Beauty comes from within, especially when it comes to your skin health. A diet full of foods with sun-protective properties can act as a line of defence for the body, skin, hair and even eyes against the impact of UV exposure. While sun protection is important year-round, it is during summer that people often find themselves at the highest risk.
Thankfully, Australian fruits thrive in summer, giving plenty of options to stock up on skin-protecting goodness at the local shopping centre or farmer’s market.
With warm temperatures, the instinct to get outdoors, jump in the pool and strip off the winter layers. However, to maintain skin health, it's important to remember to slip, slop, slap, seek and slide before running into the sunshine. Adjusting your diet to suit the seasons and your lifestyle habits is a great way to keep your health on track, with a higher intake of nourishing fruits and vegetables during summer paying off by preventing dehydration, lessening skin sensitivities, keeping your vitamin levels in check, and much more.
So instead of looking at fruit as an occasional treat this summer, put them high on your daily diet hierarchy, and your skin will thank you.
7 Skin-protective nutrients found in Australian summer fruits
The skin-protecting qualities of summer fruits come from specific vitamins and nutrients, which can boost the immune system, increase collagen, and create UV-absorbing antioxidants. Just as your first step to prevent colds and flu should be to go to your local organic fruit shop, it should also be your first step to limit skin cancer risk and get your health ready for all that summer will throw its way.
Read on to discover which fruits to include in your shopping cart.
Antioxidants are naturally occurring in your body and the food you eat, and they work to neutralise dangerous free radicals caused by UV light. If these free radicals are allowed to run free in the body, they can damage all kinds of cells, even DNA, causing premature ageing, disease, and cancer.
Antioxidants can be found in many different kinds of fresh Australian fruits, including:
Lycopene is a naturally occurring red pigment that gives a distinct colour to red and pink fruits. It is a powerful antioxidant with many health benefits, including protection against sunburn, improved heart health and reduced risk of other types of cancer.
It can be found as a supplement or even in processed foods such as pizza sauce to give its distinct colouring. However, it is most effective when consumed directly from the source. Lycopene can successfully absorb UV radiations, acting as a great line of defence for your skin.
Lycopene can be found in:
- Pink grapefruit
- Red capsicum
Beta carotene is the plant responsible for producing the vibrant oranges, reds, and yellows we see in various fruits and vegetables. Beta carotene can be converted by the body into Vitamin A, giving it potent antioxidant properties to stabilise free radicals and prevent oxidative stress, improve cognitive function, promote skin health, and improve lung and eye health.
Beta carotene supplements exist; however, natural food sources are more stable, safer, and effective. The food highest in beta carotene is carrots, which are named after the powerful antioxidants and are great for fighting cancer and boosting the immune system.
Fruits high in beta-carotene include:
- Yellow capsicum
Flavonoids are naturally occurring compounds in many fruits and vegetables and other plant by-products such as tea, wine, and chocolate. Flavonoids are rich in antioxidants and can help your body fight several toxins.
There are six different types of flavonoids - flavanols, flavan-3-ols, flavones, flavanones, isoflavones and anthocyanins- broken down by the body differently. Increasing the level of flavonoids in your diet is made easy thanks to their high presence in several foods, ready to help you fight off chronic health concerns and to stay healthy overall.
Fruits rich in flavonoids include:
Proanthocyanins are naturally occurring chemical compounds responsible for most fruits' red, blue, or purple colours. Although research is still being done into the full range of benefits of proanthocyanins, it is known to reduce the risk of many types of cancer, lower the result of age-related issues, and protect the heart and cardiovascular systems.
Foods with proanthocyanins can prevent damage to healthy cells and work alongside vitamin C to lower cancer risks, blood clots and even heart attacks.
Try these Aussie fruits to increase your intake of proanthocyanins:
- Grape seeds
- Red grapes
Polyphenols are plant compounds that, when consumed regularly, can boost digestion, protect brain health, lower blood sugar levels, prevent blood clots, and prevent heart disease and a range of cancers, including skin cancer. In addition, they protect your cells by acting as antioxidants and can reduce inflammation, targeting the root cause of many chronic illnesses.
Four main groups of polyphenols exist, each having its sources and benefits. These include flavonoids, phenolic acids, polyphenolic amides, and other polyphenols. Research that consistently links plant foods to a decreased cancer risk will often site polyphenols as largely responsible for the outcome.
Fruits with polyphenol content include:
7. Epigallocatechin (EGCG)
This is a unique plant compound that gets a lot of praise for its positive impact on health, with the ability to reduce inflammation, prevent heart and brain disease and some cancers, and aid in weight loss.
EGCG acts as a potent antioxidant to fight against free radicals such as UV light and to protect the body from cellular level damage. The health recommendations for popular items such as green tea can be credited to EGCG, and it is found in a range of other foods such as nuts, legumes, and dark chocolate.
Find EGCG in the following Aussie summer fruits:
Protect your skin from sun damage to decrease your risk of skin cancer
While sunscreen, a hat, a swimsuit coverup, sunglasses and some shade all work together to keep your skin safe from the direct hit of UV rays, don't underestimate the power that internal health can have for your long-term protection.
By increasing the amount of cancer-preventing, free-radical fighting fruits in your diet, you will be putting yourself in a great position to remain safe and healthy this summer. We are lucky to live in a country with such gorgeous weather for most of the year.
Even better, this great weather allows for the high availability of organic, fresh, and vibrant fruits and vegetables. Unfortunately, however, nothing is perfect, and our positioning in the world places us at increased risk of exposure to UV rays for most of the year.
Very rarely do the UV rays dip below three anywhere across Australia at any time of the year, meaning we are always at risk of cellular damage from UVA and UVB rays. Being sun smart is about knowing how to make the most of living in Australia while protecting yourself from its dangers. This begins with the Cancer Council's famous 5 S's, continues with a diet tailored for health and well-being, and is completed with your annual skin check.
SunDoctors is committed to diagnosing and treating skin cancer, making us your local authority on how to keep your skin healthy for a long lifetime spent enjoying the fruits of an Australian lifestyle (literally!). Doctors at each of our clinics across the country are highly skilled, trained and dedicated to detecting and treating skin cancer, with all the facilities and equipment on-site to handle all your skin concerns.