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2 Must-Avoid Food Groups That Promote Sun Damage

Did you know that the right foods could do more for your skin than any sunscreen?

Most sunscreens on the market do more harm than good.

Bear in mind that while chronic, long-term sun exposure has been linked with skin cancer, slathering on high SPF sunscreen is not necessarily the antidote.

Especially when the sunscreen itself poses a toxic threat to the body.

Most sunscreens on the market contain vitamin A retinyl palmitate. This is because vitamin A is an antioxidant, which can slow down the aging of skin tissue.

While this sounds like a good idea, it turns out that vitamin A does just the opposite in the sunshine.

Using a chemical sunscreen may do more harm than good when it comes to preventing sun damage and skin cancer. Harsh chemical ingredients in sunscreen like oxybenzone can quickly penetrate the skin to cause allergic reactions and even hormone disruption!

The FDA found that when vitamin A is added to sunscreen in the presence of sunlight, it actually speeds up the development of skin tumors and lesions. (1) The year-long study found that those who received vitamin A cream developed tumors and lesions 21 percent sooner than the control group.

If the added vitamin A isn’t enough to worry about, consider the long list of chemicals found in most sunscreens.

Of these chemicals, oxybenzone is the most common. It is found in 65 percent of all non-mineral sunscreens on the market.

Oxybenzone penetrates the skin in relatively large amounts. Studies have found that oxybenzone may cause allergic reactions and that it disrupts hormone function. Because oxybenzone potentially disrupts hormone balance, many experts warn against its use on children. 

Manufacturers add antioxidants to sunscreen for sun protection. The problem with this, as the FDA discovered, is that certain topical antioxidants actually cause lesions and cancer once these creams are exposed to sunshine.

Must-Avoid Foods That Promote Sun Damage

The most current research on skin cancer and exposure to sunlight tells us that diet has a lot to do with how well we manage sun exposure.


A diet that is full of foods that contain sugar is more likely to contribute to the formation of AGEs (advanced glycation end-products). AGEs on their own promote the breakdown and aging of connective tissue and vasculature in the body.

Put simply: AGEs are the biochemical result of what happens when a sugar links up with a protein in the body. When sugars and proteins crosslink, collagen breaks down. In the skin, we see things like wrinkles and cellulite.

According to the Journal of Oncology and the Journal of Investigative Dermatology, one study showed that UVA rays are far more toxic to skin that has an excessive buildup of AGEs. (2)(3)

This means that we can do our body and our skin a favor by limiting the amount of sugar that we consume on a daily basis.

Besides sugars in sweets, sugars are also found in grains, breads, pastas, cereals, and potatoes. Much of the processed food on market shelves contains hidden sugars.

One way to curb a craving for carbohydrates or sugar: Eat fermented foods and drink probiotic beverages. These foods naturally keep disease-causing bacteria at bay while promoting an appetite for nutrient dense foods.


Studies show that dietary antioxidants and specifically omega-3 fatty acids have been found to halt the progression of cancer and to protect against the development of skin cancer. (4)(5)(6)

This is one more reason to avoid processed foods and the standard American diet. 

In the standard American diet, many foods that are rich in omega-3 fatty acids have been displaced by omega-6 fatty acids.

This means vegetable, canola, corn, and soy oil. These oils are ubiquitous in restaurants and used frequently in prepared convenience food. Cattle, hens, and other animals of agriculture and industrial farms typically eat a corn-based diet, which increases the amount of omega-6 fats that they offer.

The problem with a diet full of omega-6 fats is that these fats actually promote the development of skin cancer. (7)

This summer, make sure that your diet is full of these antioxidant-rich foods and healthy fats to protect yourself from harmful sun damage:

  • Extra-virgin coconut oil: This is an excellent oil to cook with, as it can endure high temperatures. You can blend coconut oil into smoothies.
  • Wild-caught salmon: Salmon contains astaxanthin, which offers 500 times more antioxidant protection than vitamin E and is several times stronger than vitamin A.
  • Fermented fish oil: It is full of nutrients that benefit the entire body and help to protect against sun damage, including vitamin A and omega-3 fats.
  • Green, leafy vegetables and colorful berries: Both contain notoriously rich quercetin and other antioxidants.
  • Body Ecology Vitality SuperGreen: If you are looking for a powerful blend of nutrients to add to a smoothie or have on-the-go, this is our favorite source of fermented, antioxidant-rich plant material!

What to Remember Most About This Article:

Eating the right foods could benefit your skin even more than slathering on sunscreen for a day at the beach. In fact, most chemical sunscreens on the market will do more harm than good when they are absorbed into your skin. While long-term sun exposure can lead to skin cancer, using a high SPF sunscreen with toxic ingredients could actually accelerate the development of skin lesions and tumors.

On top of that, how your skin reacts to the sun has much to do with your diet. Make it your top priority to avoid these unhealthy food groups that promote sun damage this summer:

  1. Sugars: A diet high in sugar contributes to premature aging in the skin, leading to wrinkles and cellulite. This process makes UVA rays even more toxic to cause serious sun damage. Curb sugar cravings fast by eating fermented foods and drinking probiotic beverages!
  2. Processed Foods: A natural diet rich in antioxidants and omega-3 fatty acids can protect against skin cancer. For this reason, it's important to avoid processed foods that are full of omega-6 fatty acids from canola, corn, soy, and vegetable oil since these fats can promote the development of skin cancer. Include healthy fats in your diet like extra-virgin coconut oil instead. Get the boost of antioxidants you need from Body Ecology Vitality SuperGreen made with fermented, nutrient-rich plant material.

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  • Vitality SuperGreen

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  1. The Problem With Vitamin A. EWG Skin Deep Sunscreen Report 2012. May 15 2012.
  2. GT Wondrak, et al. Photosensitized Growth Inhibition of Cultured Human Skin Cells: Mechanism and Suppression of Oxidative Stress from Solar Irradiation of Glycated Proteins. Journal of Investigative Dermatology. 2002. 119: 489–498.
  3. Jun-Ichi Takino, et al. Cancer Malignancy Is Enhanced by Glyceraldehyde-Derived Advanced Glycation End-Products. Journal of Oncology. 2010. 2010; 739852: 8 pages.
  4. G Lui, et al. Omega 3 but not omega 6 fatty acids inhibit AP-1 activity and cell transformation in JB6 cells. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2001 Jun 19;98(13):7510-5.
  5. HS Black, et al. Influence of dietary omega-6, -3 fatty acid sources on the initiation and promotion stages of photocarcinogenesis. Photochem Photobiol. 1992 Aug;56(2):195-9.
  6. IF Orengo, et al. Influence of dietary menhaden oil upon carcinogenesis and various cutaneous responses to ultraviolet radiation. Photochem Photobiol. 1989 Jan;49(1):71-7.
  7. VE Reeve, et al. Dependence of photocarcinogenesis and photoimmunosuppression in the hairless mouse on dietary polyunsaturated fat. Cancer Lett. 1996 Nov 29;108(2):271-9.


  • Sally says:

    Fermented cod liver oil can be found at green pastures, just google it. Very high quality has been tested for toxins. The cinnamon flavor is the best . It's expensive but worth it, very high nutrient and absorbable.

    Posted on Jun 19 at 8:17 am

  • I think too many guest have ask this question. But I'm curious too.Fermented fish oil?What is it?

    Posted on Jan 29 at 8:34 pm

  • Brian says:

    It's interesting how vitamin A in sunscreens are harmful. Many supplements have it too.

    Posted on Jan 5 at 6:20 pm

  • Does the hidden sugar effects our body too?

    Posted on Nov 10 at 12:01 am

  • Ana says:

    I was already aware of the issue with the sunblocks! Please see this link. It's super helpful!!

    Posted on Jun 21 at 6:16 am

  • Anna says:

    I buy my fermented fish oil from Green Pasture Products in the US. I think you can find stockists all over the world.

    Posted on Jun 20 at 11:14 pm

  • gina Bria says:

    can you please tell me more about fermented fish oil? You could recommend astaxanthin for sun protection. There is great research on it.

    Posted on Jun 18 at 7:14 am

  • Vonda says:

    Interested to know more about fremented fish oil. Where it can be purchased? All of its uses?
    In all my health research/shopping I have not seen such a product! Thanks, VL

    Posted on Jun 17 at 6:22 pm

  • Sandey says:

    I agree with Jane's make a powerful case for what NOT to do, but you neglect to recommend a sunscreen that is safe to use. I live in the tropics and must have sunscreen/block protection 365 days a year....please complete this great article by citing safe sunscreen products for the consumer.... thank you!
    Sandey Stayanoff, RN
    Panama City, Panama

    Posted on Jun 16 at 9:42 am

  • Mirabelle says:

    I too am interested in where to purchase a fermented fish oil, especially one made from fish tested for pcb's, mercury, and other toxins.

    For those of needing to be in the sun for longer periods of time, what kind of sunscreen would you recommend?

    Posted on Jun 16 at 4:33 am

  • Eliza says:

    For people asking about alternative sunscreen: the sunscreens to go for are ones that only contain NON MICRONIZED (non-nano) zinc oxide. These provide good protection without the dangerous stuff. Good brands are UV natural, Badger (which is probably most readily available), and Loving Naturals. You can also make your own at home.

    Posted on Jun 15 at 10:31 am

  • Hi, I've asked for Canadian address that sell these products. I live in Ontario in Canada and had contacted one in Ontario several times but no one answered. Sound like they no longer sell. Could you please help me find one. I would love to stay healthy even while I am deaf with low visions (deaf-blind).

    Posted on Jun 14 at 7:22 pm

  • Cassandra says:

    I love the great health advice on this website and in the Body Ecology book. However, as someone who will burn in the sun in less than an hour, I need more than dietary help. Could you also add to this article, specific advice on what sunscreen product I could use. Other than avoiding oxybenzone.... any other advice. Thanks!

    Posted on Jun 14 at 4:48 pm

  • Brighid Desmond says:

    Fermented fish oil? did you mean fermented foods and fish oil? If not, what is fermented fish oil?

    Thanks for this great information! Your newsletters are the best!!

    Life is Good,

    Posted on Jun 14 at 1:45 pm

  • Jane says:

    Is there a recommended sunscreen that does not include the harmful products?

    Posted on Jun 14 at 10:15 am

  • linda says:

    where can I purchase fermented fish oil?

    Posted on Jun 14 at 8:08 am

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