Summer is here! It's time to reconsider skin protection.

Sensible sun blocking is great. But nothing protects your skin from sun damage like The Spartan Diet. Here's why.

The conventional wisdom on protecting skin from the ravages of the sun go something like this: In the past few decades, the atmospheric effects of air pollution have made the sun's rays more damaging to the skin, so it's more important than ever to use plenty of sunscreen, wear a shady hat and take other measures to, among other things, avoid skin cancer. 

The American Cancer Society's website offers a long, sensible list of good measures for protecting skin from the sun. But they're ignoring the dietary science. 

In fact, ultraviolet exposure has increased slightly in the past few decades (due mainly to decreasing levels of stratospheric ozone), especially in the higher latitudes of the southern hemisphere. The good news is that the ozone is coming back slowly over the years.

But what has also changed in the past few decades is the nutritional content of our food. 

It's unclear whether increasing skin cancer in recent decades is caused more by a thinner ozone layer or a huge reduction in the nutritional quality of produce due to the rise in intensive industrial agriculture and the rise in farmed fish, which lacks key skin-protecting properties found in wild fish.

In the past 20 years, it's become clear that certain foods have strong protective qualities against skin damage, skin cancer and even sunburn itself!

In 2008, for example, researchers at the University of Newcastle found that eating tomatoes helps prevent sunburn. The effect is caused by an antioxidant called lycopene, which is concentrated in tomatoes, and present in other food. 

In fact, antioxidant- and vitamin-rich foods like red wine and grapes, broccoli, green tea, pomegranates, onions, peppers, red kidney beans, blueberries, cranberries, blackberries, raspberries, strawberries, apples, pecans, almonds, cherries, plums, black beans, turmeric, sweet potatoes, sunflower seeds, avocados, dark chocolate, guava, spinach, kale, carrots, wild salmon, sardines, herring, seaweed, flax, hemp and chia seeds (every single one of them a Spartan Diet superfood) have all been found to contain compounds that protect against skin cancer.

The single most powerful component for skin protection is a rare keto-carotenoid called astaxanthin. Not many foods contain this compound, but salmon does (as does a few other species of fish and other seafoods). In fact, it's what makes salmon orange. Wild Pacific sockeye salmon has the world's highest concentration of astaxanthin, several times higher even than Atlantic salmon. Farmed salmon contains none, because farmed fish don’t eat the natural diet that contains astaxanthin. (Astaxanthin is also available in supplement form.)

And speaking of antioxidant-rich food, extra virgin olive oil is another great protector of skin. Ancient Spartans routinely applied olive oil to their skin to protect against all-day exposure. Some 2,600 years later, scientists are discovering why this was such a good idea. Applying olive oil to the skin after sun exposure reduces the likelihood of skin cancer. 

But when olive oil is a big part of the diet, it offers further skin-protecting effects. It turns out extra virgin olive oil contains high amounts of a compound called squalene, which has been found to protect against cancer and skin damage. 

So my advice to you is: Wear sunscreen. Wear a hat. Avoid prolonged exposure when the UV index is very high. But don't avoid the sunshine. It's good for you. 

And above all, eat the Spartan Diet, which is the most skin-protecting diet on the planet. 

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Recipe: Spartan Diet Pesto

Perfect for homemade pasta, buffalo mozzarella sandwiches, pizza, roasted veggies and pesto-based veggie salads and so much more, pesto is something that should always be made at home. And what better time than summer time to keep making large batches of this delicious Italian sauce and condiment to eat now and to keep frozen so you can enjoy it through the winter. 

Good homemade pesto brings meals to life! It’s also the perfect way to pack in some super nutrients into your diet. And Spartan Diet Pesto takes flavor, texture and health qualities to the next level.

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