By Jeff RitterGolf and sunshine go hand in hand, but playing without the proper sun protection can lead to major health problems. The sun is a good thing. It supplies us with vital nutrients necessary for our survival. In fact taking in a small amount of sunlight is a sound way of promoting overall health. Beyond that, though, you need to protect yourself. In the tips below, our MTT LEAN 18 nutrition coach Cate Ritter breaks down all you'll ever need to know about having fun "safely" under the sun!
Get a Healthy Dose of "D"
Sunshine is the best source of natural vitamin D, which improves calcium and phosphate levels in the blood, supports mental health, strengthens bones, boosts immunity, fights cancer, reduces inflammation, improves mood and enhances well-being. Depending on your skin tone, age, diet, susceptibility to sunburn and the intensity of sunlight, a healthy dose of "D" is 15-60 minutes daily. Once you start turning pink, consider the reinforcements below.
Although it's good to be pro-sunlight, you want to avoid overexposure, a.k.a. sunburn. First, seek sunshine in the morning or late afternoon and avoid midday, peak UV radiation. Second, bring an umbrella or find shade under trees. Third, wear protective clothing such as hats, long sleeve shirts, pants, and sunglasses. Lastly, apply a safe, mineral-based sunscreen.
Select Healthier Sunscreens
Many sunscreens contain harmful chemicals and hormone disruptors that release free radicals in sunlight, are absorbed through the skin, create hormonal imbalances, and can cause skin irritations/allergies. Always read the ingredients label and avoid: oxybenzone, methoxycinnamate, PABA, and vitamin A (retinol or retinal palmitate). Choose mineral-based sunscreens with the following active ingredients: zinc, titanium, avobenzone or Mexoryl SX.
Eat Protective Foods
Nutrient-dense foods high in antioxidants protect your skin from the inside out. Enjoy foods rich in betacarotene (carrots, sweet potatoes, red peppers), lycopene (tomatoes, pink grapefruit, watermelon) vitamin E (almonds, asparagus, pumpkin seeds), catechins and polyphenols (green/white tea),omega-3s and astaxathin (salmon, fish oil), resveratrol (blueberries, red grapes, red wine), natural saturated fats (coconut/palm oil, pastured butter) and proanthocyanidins (grape seeds, wine, blueberries, hazelnuts, pistachios).
Supplement For Support
Fish oil, grape seed extract, resveratrol, and vitamin D supplements provide protection from sun damage. Vitamin D from the sun is regulated by the body, making it the preferred source, but a supplement can be a good alternative. Ask your doctor to get tested and start specific supplementation.
Avoid Skin Cancer
Support Overall Health
Cate Ritter is the Director of the THE LEAN 18 Nutrition program @MTT Performance. The program operates out of Poppy Hills Golf Course in Pebble Beach, Calif. Follow MTT on Twitter at @mttgolf