Your Body is Healthy, But What About Your Skin

Did you know June is Men’s Health Month? The goal is to get us to be more aware of and avoid preventable health problems through early detection and treatment. Many of us understand the basics of living a healthy lifestyle – eating nutritious food, exercising regularly, getting quality sleep, and enjoying indulgences in moderation.

But one of the most common healthy practices we overlook is protecting our skin, not only from UV damage but other chemicals and elements. Skin is the body’s largest organ – a living, breathing organ – so it makes sense that everything we put into and on our bodies has an impact on our overall health.

Starting with the sun, most of us know the dangers of UV rays, yet still a lot of men do not wear sunscreen. I cannot stress the importance of sun protection enough, especially for men – the majority of individuals diagnosed with melanoma are men. In fact, in the U.S. approximately 39,000 new melanoma cases occur in men every year and melanoma is the deadliest form of skin cancer.

If that’s not impetus enough to use sunscreen keep in mind 90 percent of our skin’s aging is due to overexposure to the sun. Wrinkles, brown spots, sagging and dehydrated skin are all compliments of not using sunscreen. While SPF 30 is recommended keep in mind not all sunscreens are created equal. Steer clear of sunscreens that use vitamin A derivatives – these can actually proliferate cancerous cells – as well as octinoxate, oxybenzone and avobenzone. The latter have been linked to a slew of dangerous side effects because they have the ability to permeate the skin and release free radicals in the body. Again, what we put on our bodies is as important as what we put in them.

We also know consuming foods high in antioxidants and vitamins – fruits, vegetables, nuts, and certain grains – are essential to our wellbeing, but they’re also vital to protecting the skin. Whether eaten or applied directly to the skin, antioxidants and vitamins act as free-radical scavengers helping guard our bodies and skin against cell damage.

Getting these nutrients naturally from super foods is always the best option, but supplements and topicals applied to the skin also provide benefits. Here are a few to look for:

  • Vitamin A – carrots, kale, spinach, pumpkin, liver, and cantaloupe
  • Vitamin C – camu camu, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, guava, and citrus
  • Vitamin E – olive oil, walnut oil, wheat germ oil, oats, tomatoes, and carrots
  • Bioflavonoids – citrus, berries, onions, tea, red wine, dark chocolate, and sea buckthorn
  • Polyphenols – berries, tea, dark chocolate, walnuts, peanuts, and pomegranates

In addition to these daily healthy habits be sure to get your skin checked every year. Of course if anything looks suspicious get it looked at immediately. Honor your body and use Men’s Health Month as fuel to improve you overall health practices.