Practicing healthy sun habits are easy once you learn the basics. I love the sun, and I believe it has powerful mental and physical healing capabilities. Sun in healthy amounts increases the metabolism, boosts the immune system, activates certain enzymes in our your body, reduces stress, improves your mood and helps your body synthesize Vitamin D. The benefits of the sun are incredible, and you shouldn’t be fearful of getting any natural light on your body, but you must be careful that you don’t overexpose yourself to the sun or else there can be negative repercussions.

I’ve put together a guide for healthy sun habits as well as a simple list of foods for energy that can prevent and actually reverse sun damage. The sun is an extractor, and pulls toxicity to the surface. The more toxic your body and diet, the more detrimental the affects of the sun. By following these general tips and adding these foods to your diet around times of sun exposure, you are sure to stay hydrated, youthful and beautiful.

Sun Basics: Follow these basic tips for healthy sun protection:

1. Plan outdoor activities in the morning or late afternoon because the UV rays are the strongest between 10:00am and 2:00pm.

2. Always bring a hat. I use a wide brimmed hat because it protects my scalp, face, chest, and shoulders. For extended periods of time, you want to keep these areas protected to minimize the effects of damaging UV rays.

3. Use a chemical free sunscreen on your face and body. The main chemicals in traditional sunscreens can damage cells, potentially lead to cancer (ironically) and make you age faster. If your current sunscreen contains Benzophenone, Disodium EDTA, Padimate O, or Oxybenzone, get rid of it immediately! Your skin is your largest organ. What you apply to your skin gets absorbed into your body and blood stream. That includes the ingredients in your sun lotions. These ingredients found in traditional sunscreens can become oxidized by UV rays and create free radicals, aging you while also possibly promoting the growth of cancerous cells as they damage your DNA. Instead, use a chemical-free sunscreen that uses zinc oxide, titanium dioxide and natural minerals to shield the sun rays. Popular bands are Jason and Burt’s Bees. Apply Sunscreen 15-20 minutes prior to sun exposure and reapply every couple hours to ensure protection.

Note: I personally like to get 20 minutes of sun directly onto my skin without any sunscreen, to get the benefits of the light. This may not be right for you, so many you only get a few minutes or 5 minutes of natural light. The sun is the giver of all life. Yes in excess it can be harmful, but I don’t think people should be scared of ever getting any light on their skin, either, especially if their diet is high in antioxidant-rich plant foods and low in toxic foods like dairy and polyunsaturated vegetable oils.

Foods that mix well with the sun:

In addition to preventative measures, there are also foods that can help save your skin from the negative side effects of the sun. In many cases, these foods can help reverse the damage that has already been done. Increase your intake of these foods during and after a long day in the sun and see the difference.

1. Leafy greens- Leafy greens such as leeks, artichokes, broccoli, kale, romaine, spinach, cilantro, celery and parsley are optimal for preventing and repairing sun damage. You will get a handsome amount of absorbable minerals, protective antioxidants, vitamins and nutrients from a Glowing Green Smoothie each morning for breakfast.

2. Watermelon (and other red fruits)- Watermelon, papaya, apricots, pink grapefruit and tomato all contain licopene, an antioxidant which can enhance the skin’s natural defense against free radicals by 35%. These fruits act as refreshing and hydrating snacks on an empty stomach.

3. Dark Chocolate- Cacao beans may help reduce your skin’s sensitivity to sun rays. Finding a chocolate with a high cacao content will mean more benefits. Or, try raw cacao powder for a twist on the traditional treat, like my Raw Cacao Truffles. Conveniently, it is packed with antioxidants, so makes for a good occasional treat.

4. Seeds- Seeds like flax, chia and hemp seeds are high in beneficial in essential fatty acids. Omega fatty acids help prevent sunburns and fight inflammation. Additionally, the easily assimilated amino acids and antioxidant in seeds can help repair damaged skin cells, resulting in optimal repair and healing of your body from all environmental conditions.

5. Tea- Having 1-2 cups of tea each day will help your skin heal from the inside out and give your skin the capability to reverse prior sun damage. One of my favorite types of tea is rooibos teas. Remember, we want to limit yerba mate and avoid green tea completely. In The Enzyme Factor, Dr. Hiromi Shinya points out that in Japan the rate of stomach cancer is very high, which he theorizes is linked to the high consumption of green tea in there, which contains tannic acids, caffeine, and agricultural chemical remnants that may  irritate and inflames the gastric mucus lining of the stomach.  Stick to all-natural, organic herbal or caffeine-free blends.

Always avoid sunburn, because it can damage your skin and lead to skin diseases. The sun is only healthy in doses where it does not cause a burn. If you notice your skin turning pink, then throw on a cover up, get in some shade and cool it. Most of you may not know that high-fat diets cause you to burn more easily in the sun than low-fat diets. This is especially true of vegetable oils, which become rancid very easily. Those French fries cooked in canola healthy are really not a good idea. You will find that adding raw foods into your diet (foods that are not heated above 118 degrees) will impact how easily you burn.

If you have fairer skin, or do burn in the sun, up your water intake. We lose more water when we’re out in the sun and our bodies will need the extra fluid when healing our skin from the burn. The most effective and natural pain reliever is natural aloe vera gel. Aloe has anti-inflammatory characteristics and is used as a healing agent. I recommend using a pure aloe vera gel that is fresh and devoid of unnatural preservatives and chemicals. If you live in California or a place with a similar climate, maybe you can even grow your own aloe and squeeze it out fresh from the leaves!

What are your best tips for healthy sun habits?