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These Magical Foods Work like Sunscreen from the Inside Out

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With the weather slowly warming up, more and more of us are heading outdoors for yoga and other forms of exercise. Research has shown that there are numerous benefits to connecting with nature and doing yoga outdoors, including a higher sense of happiness, reduced stress, lowered anxiety, a stronger immune system and a greater sense of wellbeing.
But that glowing sun, which feels so deliciously comforting on our skin, carries with it a hidden risk. Every year, 5.4 million cases of skin cancer are treated in the U.S., according to the Skin Cancer Foundation, and there are more new cases of skin cancer each year than colon, breast, prostate and lung cancer combined.
It all boils down to prevention, but data hints that we aren’t taking it seriously enough. The American Cancer Society reports that rates of skin cancer have been climbing every year for the past three decades and is one of the most common forms of cancer affecting young adults, specifically young women.
Protect yourself from the inside out. Research has shown that the following foods work like dietary sunscreen. Plus, these healthy snacks boost our athletic performance and endurance, so we can stay in tree pose that much longer.
Here are four magical foods that help protect your skin from the inside out:

1. Dark chocolate

As if we needed another reason to indulge in chocolate, right?! A 12-week study in the Journal of Nutrition monitored women who ate a snack rich in cocoa flavonoids compared with women who didn’t get as many flavonoids. Not only did cocoa flavonoids protect against UV-related skin damage, but the compounds also improved blood flow to the skin, increased skin density and kept the women’s skin more hydrated.Cocoa may also improve our cardiovascular health and protect against inflammation, especially helpful for exercise recovery.

2. Tomatoes

Tomato-based products like ketchup may help our skin’s natural sun defense keep up with our outdoor activities. Multiple studies have found that lycopene in tomatoes improves skin health, guards against sunburn and may even help minimize the appearance of sun damage. A tomato a day keeps those wrinkles and age spots at bay!
For yogis and other athletes, some studies suggest lycopene’s antioxidant properties may also minimize exercise-related fatigue and protect us against unhealthy cholesterol levels.

3. Omega-3 fatty acids

Go ahead – have another serving of fish or flaxseed. These foods are naturally rich in omega-3 fatty acids, which numerous studies have shown may protect against sun damage and improve general skin health.
And while beauty is more of a mindset, and less a specific ability for us to fit some impossible standard created by Hollywood or Instagram, studies show that fatty acids also reduce deep wrinkles, restore our skin’s elasticity and boost collagen!
Besides adding the spring back to our skin, essential fatty acids also add a spring to our step on the yoga mat. Omega-3s improve our recovery after a grueling yoga workout, reduce muscle soreness and even help us burn fat more efficiently.


4. Green tea

Sipping a mug of chilled green tea isn’t just a refreshing beverage during and after yoga, but the powerful polyphenols in the tea also guard against skin cancer, sun damage and signs of aging.
Green tea’s gentle caffeine also fights fatigue while exercising, and the tea’s anti-inflammatory effects may improve post-workout recovery.
Recommened: 15 Reasons to Drink Green Tea Every Day

5. Don’t forget the sunscreen!

Even the healthiest diet doesn’t make us invincible. When we’re playing in Mother Nature’s great outdoors, the American Cancer Society recommends we try to avoid direct sun exposure between the hours of 10am and 4pm when the sun’s rays are at their most damaging levels. We should also wear sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or higher.
By taking the right precautions and boosting our skin’s health from the inside out, we protect ourselves from the sun’s health hazards so we can enjoy our outdoor yoga for many more years to come. When planning your next outdoor adventure, time it right, slather on some sunscreen and reach for a healthy snack that fuels your yoga practice while defending your skin.
Like Hippocrates famously said, “Let food by thy medicine.” Or in this case, your sun protection.

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Josh Duvauchelle is a spirit-conscious health coach and certified personal trainer with a nutrition certificate from Cornell. A commitment to a healthy lifestyle is a tool for spiritual growth, teaching us how to tap into our inner strength to uplift our approach to any challenge, both those inside and outside the gym.

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