Sun Bathing and the Real Culprit of Skin Aging

Sun bathing is awesome and amazing. However, how a person eats can greatly influence whether the sun is good for you or bad for you. The type of fat that a person eats can either protect you from sun damage or cause sun damage.

Our tissues mimmic what fats we have been consuming for the majority of our life. If a person has been eating a ton of unsaturated fats from the likes of fatty cold water fish, nuts, seeds, etc, then our tissues will most likely be full of unsaturated fat. Conversely, if a person has been eating a diet full of protective saturated fats from the likes of grass fed dairy, meat, pasture raised eggs, tropical fish, and fruits, then our tissues will most likely contain saturated fats.

Saturated fats are protective against ultraviolet light, while unsaturated fats are not and actually the aging and damaging effect that happens when we are exposed to the sun are a direct result from interacting with the unsaturated fat in our tissues, which a majority comes from our diet. Wrinkling and aging skin happens more so when a person is eating a diet high in unsaturated fats in relation to saturated fats, coupled that with excess estrogen and sun exposure and you have a recipe for aged skin and other issues that I won’t name but you can probably guess just what I mean.

So while I recommend bathing in the sun so you can reap the benefits, you have to understand how important your nutrition is because if you haven’t been eating so well and you get out in the sun based on this advice, the sun will be to your detriment and not to your benefit. Context matters and always needs to be taken into consideration. You do not know what you do not know!

Q: Doesn’t exposure to the sun age you?
A: This effect is variable, and depends on our hormones and diet.

The unsaturated oils have been identified as a major factor in skin aging. For example, two groups of rabbits were fed diets containing either corn oil or coconut oil, and their backs were shaved, so sunlight could fall directly onto their skin. The animals that ate corn oil developed prematurely wrinkled skin, while the animals that ate coconut oil didn’t show any harm from the sun exposure. In a study at the University of California, photographs of two groups of people were selected, pairing people of the same age, one who had eaten an unsaturated fat rich diet, the other who had eaten a diet low in unsaturated fats. A panel of judges was asked to sort them by their apparent ages, and the subjects who consumed larger amounts of the unsaturated oils were consistently judged to be older than those who ate less, showing the same age-accelerating effects of the unsaturated oils that were demonstrated by the rabbit experiments. Raymond Peat, PhD, Using Sunlight to Sustain Life

The following information was written by Emma Kakos from her article Age Sweetly, 2014:

You might’ve noticed headlines popping up in magazine articles lately stating that sugar is “aging” and the cause of glycation which leads to skin wrinkling and sagging. These articles generally conclude with recommendations for ‘anti-glycation’ topical skin products and (sigh) a “no-sugar” diet. This post is just a small collection of information to get you thinking and hopefully have you see that sugar* is actually not the bad guy here.

Firstly, I want to say that I don’t think wrinkles are necessarily bad. I’m proud of my 37 year old laugh lines. Wrinkles are indeed inevitable but the thing is, they needn’t develop prematurely, and if you’d rather not accelerate aging of the skin, know that sugar is not the culprit, but rather the oxidative breakdown of Polyunsaturated Fatty Acids (PUFA).

“Many people are concerned about the spontaneous glycation that supposedly happens in the body when sugars react with proteins, though they are really mostly the result of PUFA degradation.” Raymond Peat, PhD

The sun isn’t actually the ‘cause’ of skin ageing either, it only contributes to skin damage with overexposure and when a person has accumulated too many PUFAs in their tissue:

“In the l960s, Hartroft and Porta gave an elegant argument for decreasing the ratio of unsaturated oil to saturated oil in the diet (and thus in the tissues). They showed that the “age pigment” is produced in proportion to the ratio of oxidants to antioxidants, multiplied by the ratio of unsaturated oils to saturated oils. More recently, a variety of studies have demonstrated that ultraviolet light induces peroxidation in unsaturated fats, but not saturated fats, and that this occurs in the skin as well as in vitro. Rabbit experiments, and studies of humans, showed that the amount of unsaturated oil in the diet strongly affects the rate at which aged, wrinkled skin develops. The unsaturated fat in the skin is a major target for the aging and carcinogenic effects of ultraviolet light” Raymond Peat, PhD

and this:

“While it is important to avoid overexposure to ultraviolet light, the skin damage that we identify with aging is largely a product of our diet.” Raymond Peat, PhD

Paul Gustav Fischer titled Sunbathing in the Dunes
Image: Paul Gustav Fischer, “Sunbathing in the Dunes”
Annette Casir Sun Bathing
Image: Annette Casir Sun Bathing
Andre De Dienes Sunbathing
Image: Andre De Dienes Sunbathing

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