Damaging Effects of UVA and UVB

There is a huge hype about protecting your skin from the sun and for good reason! Although sunscreen use has reached its peak,  skin cancer rates have also been rising. What is the correlation? There are a few misconceptions that led to the false reassurance of sun protection via sunscreen.

Myth: “My high SPF sunscreen blocks the sun’s radiation”
  • You first must understand that there are different types of radiation from the sun. SPF (the sunscreen measurement we are most familiar with) refers to the level of protection against Ultraviolet B rays (UVB). UVB rays are responsible for damaging the skin via a sunburn. Unfortunately, a majority (95%) of the sun’s rays are Ultraviolet A rays (UVA) which cause wrinkling, sagging, and most importantly, trigger cell mutation that may initiate skin cancer. Simply blocking the UVB rays is not enough and gives us the false belief we are protected from the sun’s harm because we burn less quickly. Most sunscreens are great at blocking those UVB rays, however, they lack the ability to block UVA rays.

Myth: “The sun is bad for me” 
  • Lack of sunshine is just as detrimental to your body and health as getting too much sunshine. When sunshine touches your skin, your body makes vitamin D. Vitamin D is crucial for immune health and also plays an amazing role in preventing osteoporosis and breast cancer. You can find manufactured vitamin D in health food stores, but it will never be of the same quality that your body produces naturally when exposed to sunshine. The key is getting small doses of sunshine regularly (i.e. don’t try and cram a year’s worth of sunshine into a day at the beach).  

Myth: “I’m not burnt so I’m fine”
  • Sunscreen gives us a filter from the sun, allowing us to spend all day in the sun and moderate the rate of tan. However, as described above, the sun’s rays that burn you are different from the ones that contribute to skin cancer. Sunscreen blocks the burning effects of UVB making us believe we are safe; however, the UVA rays are busy at work damaging our skin. The human body is genius! A sunburn (caused by UVB rays) is your body’s way of saying, “you’ve gotten too much sun and are quickly approaching the point of radiation damage from the UVA rays”. It is important to get out of the sun before you burn. The best way to protect yourself from UVA radiation but still get a good dose of vitamin D is to adopt the philosophy of “everything in moderation”. Go out in the sun (without sunscreen) but don’t stay out too long. When determining “how long is too long”, take these factors into consideration:
    • Your skin tone (darker skin is naturally more protected from sun damage)
    • The heat of the day, cloud coverage, etc.
    • The time of day (burn time will be more delayed in the evenings and early mornings)
    • Location (tropical areas are more prone 


Burger Season

Bonfires and BBQ's are everywhere during the summer months. When it comes time to decide the menu and burgers are on the list, keep a few things in mind!

Mind Your Buns! The starch of the burger bun absorbs the necessary digestive enzymes naturally found in your stomach. Therefore, your body requires extra water to help break down and digest carbohydrates when you eat them.  The absorbent properties of the burger bun also contributes to dehydration. The tricky part about burgers are that the protein in the burger meat requires saturated digestive enzymes (a.k.a. drinking less water while eating meat) and the burger bun requires drinking more water to prevent dehydration. As you can see, starches and proteins are not easy on your body to consume simultaneously while properly digesting your foods and staying hydrated. Going "bun-less" is ideal (use lettuce as your replacement buns). If you must have your buns, find freshly baked whole grain buns from your health food store and use only half the bun.

Know Your Meat! The processed meat found in grocery stores has become very unhealthy for us. Ground beef contains a ratio between omega 3 fatty acids and omega 6 fatty acids. Ideally, a healthy ratio for beef is 2:1 (omega 3: omega 6). This is considered a healthy ratio. Grass-fed, lean beef (90% or leaner) contains this ratio. The key is finding grass-fed beef, which you can find in your health food store. Generic brand, non-grass-fed beef is incredibly toxic to our bodies and is contributing to the obesity problem in America. Know where your meat comes from! You are much better off buying grass-fed meats from local farmers. Vermont has a plethora of local farmers!

Keep It Juicy! Especially with leaner beef, your burger can taste dry and less flavorful. Try adding some cooked rice or Bulgar to your burger meat before forming it into patties. This will add some fiber and bulk up your burgers. For a tasty treat, add some caramelized onions or avocado to your burger (*Also: avocado is a great alternative to mayonnaise!)

Portion Control! As with anything else, portion control is key! Watch how frequently you chow down on burgers and how many you eat in a meal. Resist the urge to go back for seconds; let the burger digest and re-evaluate whether you are still hungry or whether it's your taste buds wanting another juicy burger.

Happy Grilling!

Cherries! Artichokes! Carrots!

With a new season, fruits and vegetables are in their prime with an abundance of benefits.

Cherries are the fruit to indulge in this summer! Quell a post-workout soreness with cherries as they contain natural anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties. Cherries work in a similar way as common NSAIDs (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs; e.g. Ibuprofen) but  without the health threats and concerns of gastrointestinal bleeding, liver damage, kidney damage, and cardiovascular damage. Cherries are great alternatives to Ibuprofen and aspirin! 

There are three main types of cherries. Sweetheart cherries (more commonly called "Bing" cherries) are dark in color and delicious for eating. Emperor Francis cherries (more commonly called "Ranier" cherries) are delicious for eating raw. They are a yellow/red combination in color and are a bit sweeter than Sweetheart cherries. These cherries do not produce the deep red juice that stains- a perfect summer treat for kids who love to dribble on their shirts! Lastly, Meteor and Surefire cherries (both are sour varieties) make for great jams and pie filling. These cherries are very sour but will sweeten a bit when cooked. Additional Sugar is needed in recipes to attain the sweetness of pies. 

Artichokes are a delicious and exotic looking vegetable. They provide the visual decadence for a dinner party in addition to the great nutritious properties. Artichokes contain folate, fiber, inulin (supports digestive health), and tons of antioxidants. They are an easy side dish to prepare with your meal. They are best steamed and served with a balsamic dipping sauce or simply a small amount of melted butter. Peel off each leaf individually and dip the "meaty" part of each leaf into your sauce of choice.

Finally, we have always heard that carrots are great for your eyesight. Yes, that is true, however there are more perks to nibbling on carrots throughout the day! Eating carrots gives your skin a luminous, healthy glow. Paired with the vitamin D your body produces from exposure to sunlight, you will be radiant. Other "glowing" vegetables are red and yellow peppers and dark leafy greens such as kale and spinach.

Indulge in something new this summer and seek out foods that nourish and sustain you!