Boost your Summer SPF (Sun-Protecting Foods)

Dr. Shawn Talbott (Ph.D., CNS, LDN, FACSM, FACN, FAIS) has gone from triathlon struggler to gut-brain guru! With a Ph.D. in Nutritional Biochemistry, he's on a mission to boost everyday human performance through the power of natural solutions and the gut-brain axis.

During the hot summer months – it’s important to protect our skin from the damaging effects of the sun.

Watch the video =

When most people think about “SPF” – they think about the sun protection factor as it relates to sunscreen.

As a nutritionist, I also like people to understand the “other SPF” – referring to “skin-protecting foods.”

These are foods that deliver specific nutrients that can help to block harmful UV light, reduce sunburns, and deliver a range of anti-aging benefits.

Some of my favorites are:

Carrots, cantaloupe, spinach and kale – are all high in beta-carotene that concentrates in the skin and protects from UV rays. Try one of my favorite smoothie recipes:

Green Acai (makes ~16oz)

  • 1?2 cup chopped kale (packed)
  • 1?2 cup chopped spinach (packed)
  • 1?4 avocado
  • 1 packet (3.5oz / 100g) of frozen acai berries
  • 1 cup coconut water
  • handful of parsley

Grapes, blueberries, and cherries – are all high in polyphenols that can help to reduce sun-induced oxidation (damage) to cells and DNA. Pop your fruit in the freezer so you can enjoy a frozen treat on a hot summer day.

Tomatoes and Watermelon – are high in lycopene, a red carotenoid that can significantly reduce sunburn risk – and either one can be used as the base for a healthy and delicious summer salad.

Salmon is high is astaxanthin – a carotenoid that can increase the natural SPF of your skin by the equivalent of 2-4 SPF sunscreen (from the inside)! At your next summer BBQ, skip the burger and fries in favor of a salmon burger (astaxanthin) and sweet potato (beta-carotene) for the ultimate in inside-out sun protection.

Eat as many of these foods as often as possible to protect your skin from the damaging effects of the summer sun.

Thanks for reading,


Shawn M Talbott, PhD, CNS, LDN, FACSM, FAIS, FACN

Nutritional Biochemist and Author

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Best Future You – Harnessing Your Body’s Biochemistry to Achieve Balance in Body, Mind, and Spirit

The Secret of Vigor – How to Overcome Burnout, Restore Biochemical Balance, and Reclaim Your Natural Energy

Killer at Large – Why Obesity is America’s Greatest Threat – an award-winning documentary film exploring the causes and solutions underlying the American obesity epidemic

The Cortisol Connection – Why Stress Makes You Fat and Ruins Your Health (Hunter House)

The Cortisol Connection Diet – The Breakthrough Program to Control Stress and Lose Weight (Hunter House)

Cortisol Control and the Beauty Connection – The All-Natural Inside-Out Approach to Reversing Wrinkles, Preventing Acne, And Improving Skin Tone (Hunter House)

Natural Solutions for Pain-Free Living – Lasting Relief for Flexible Joints, Strong Bones and Ache-Free Muscles (Chronicle Publishers – Currant Books)

The Immune Miracle – The All-Natural Approach for Better Health, Increased Energy and Improved Mood (GLH Nutrition, 2012)

The Health Professionals Guide to Dietary Supplements (Lippincott, Williams & Wilkens)

A Guide to Understanding Dietary Supplements – an Outstanding Academic Text of 2004 (Haworth Press)


About the Author

Exercise physiologist (MS, UMass Amherst) and Nutritional Biochemist (PhD, Rutgers) who studies how lifestyle influences our biochemistry, psychology and behavior - which kind of makes me a "Psycho-Nutritionist"?!?!

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