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Let me start off by making a few points clear:
- I have extremely fair, freckly skin.
- I’m from Arizona.
- Because of numbers 1 and 2, I’ve always doused myself in sunscreen and/or avoided the sun altogether.
- Even after diligent sunscreen application and sun avoidance, I’d always burn at least once each summer.
- This most recent summer, after spending a lot of time outdoors in NYC, all over Europe, Arizona, and California, I didn’t burn once.
- This post is based solely on my own n of 1 results. I’m not a doctor and am not recommending that you follow my lead. I simply want to share my sunburn-free story with you!
My Inspo To Prevent Sun Damage From The Inside
In the episode, Goodrich details his crazy sensitivity to omega-6 fats, like grain and seed oils (commonly called “vegetable” oils).
Consumption of the improper ratio of omega-6 to omega-3 fatty acids may be problematic for everyone, but Goodrich is especially susceptible to this imbalance.
⇒ Side note: For more information on the ideal ratio of omega 6:3 fatty acids, see these two posts:
- “How/Why To Optimize Your Omega-6:3 Consumption”
- “Eating Enough Of This? Your Brain Health Depends On It”
When consuming high amounts of omega-6s, Goodrich experienced extreme symptoms; at one point, he even felt like he was having a heart attack!
Once he pinpointed omega-6 fatty acids as the root cause of his issues and completely removed them from his diet, his symptoms disappeared.
One additional positive side effect: He was no longer as sensitive to the sun! (To read more about his personal experience, visit his blog.)
Later, I heard Goodrich interviewed on another one of my favorite podcasts, The Low-Carb Cardiologist. Again, he shared the miraculous story of his recovery, which included his new propensity for sun exposure!
Putting My Newfound Knowledge Into Practice
Ever since I became aware of the prevalence of omega-6 fatty acids in my own diet, I’ve done my best to reduce my intake of omega-6s and up my intake of omega-3s.
To do this, I prioritize omega-3-rich foods, like fish, flaxseeds, chia seeds, and walnuts.
Some days I even take a high-quality fish oil supplement.
When I buy packaged foods, I make sure they don’t contain omega-6-laden “vegetable” oils, like canola and safflower.
Also, when I eat out at restaurants, I avoid sauces and dressings, which are almost always made with omega-6-rich oils. (Actually, most restaurant food is omega-6-heavy because “vegetable” oils are the cheapest!)
Thus, before I began my summer experiment, I’d been working hard to optimize my omega 6:3 ratio. The question remained…would I, like Tucker Goodrich, be less susceptible to sun damage?
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My Sunburn-Free Summer
Since I’d reduced my omega-6 intake, I hoped to be less sunburn-prone.
However, I was still very cautious about my sun exposure. If I knew I’d be exposed to powerful UV rays (like when I was in sunny CA), I was sure to apply layers of a mineral-based sunscreen (click here to see a list of my favorite nontoxic sunscreens) and limit my time in the sun, especially in the late afternoon.
As previously mentioned, in the past, when I’d practice the same habits (regular sunscreen application and limited sun exposure), I’d still burn. This summer…I did not!
Can I prove that my lack of sunburn is due to my reduction of omega-6 fatty acids? No. Am I pretty convinced it had something to do with it? Yes.
In December 2017, Tucker Goodrich published this post in which he reported other sunburn-free success stories like ours. Many people besides us are convinced!
Further, studies have shown that these n of 1 results are probably not freak accidents! (See links to studies below.)
The Icing On My Sunburn-Free Cake: Astaxanthin!
Another trick I’d heard of and tried out was taking astaxanthin daily. Astaxanthin is a potent antioxidant (see multiple links to research findings below); one study suggests:
In summary, the potential chemo-therapeutic properties of this algal extract [astaxanthin] could possibly be exploited for the development of topical skin-care products or indeed as a natural dietary supplement to minimise the effects of UVA radiation in vivo.
Not surprisingly, dozens of skincare manufacturers include astaxanthin in their products. It may be hiding in yours!
An extra astaxanthin bonus? Users report that it gives their skin a natural glow, even in the absence of sun exposure:
Astaxanthin is what gives salmon and flamingos their pink color. And no, it will definitely not turn your own skin pink, but, if taken in good quantities over a period of time, astaxanthin will give you a nice, bronzed tan, and keep any sunburn at bay.
I can attest to this! Friends and family continuously tell me I look “tan”…even in the thick of the NYC winter. I’ve never, ever been told this in my entire life!
To get astaxanthin naturally, eat salmon once or twice a week. (This will also help to boost your consumption of omega-3s! It’s a win-win!)
Or, find it in a high-quality supplement. To give my skin that extra boost year round, I take 4mg (1 tablet) of this natural Hawaiian astaxanthin with dinner:
However, throughout my sunburn-free summer, I took 12mg (3 tablets) nightly, so this may also have helped to protect my skin.
Bottom line: I experienced an entire sunburn-free summer for the first time…ever! Regardless of whether it can prevent sun damage or not, consuming the optimal ratio of omega 6:3 fatty acids yields positive health benefits. It’s never too late to up your intake of omega-3s!
What do YOU think? Will you try this? Share your thoughts in the comments 🙂
⇒ To optimize every aspect of your health, visit My Favorite Things! There, you’ll find links to healthy packaged foods, toxin-free products, and overall wellness boosters.
⇒ Interested in learning more? Check out these resources:
Research on potential sun protection from an optimal omega-6:3 consumption ratio:
- “Dietary fish-oil supplementation in humans reduces UVB-erythemal sensitivity but increases epidermal lipid peroxidation.”
- “Dietary fish oil reduces basal and ultraviolet B-generated PGE2 levels in skin and increases the threshold to provocation of polymorphic light eruption.”
- “The potential of omega-3 fatty acids in the prevention of non-melanoma skin cancer.”
Research on the positive benefits of astaxanthin:
- “Protective effects of topical application of a poorly soluble antioxidant astaxanthin liposomal formulation on ultraviolet-induced skin damage.”
- “Effective inhibition of skin cancer, tyrosinase, and antioxidative properties by astaxanthin and astaxanthin esters from the green alga Haematococcus pluvialis.”
- “Cosmetic benefits of astaxanthin on humans subjects.”
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