Eating grapes can protect skin from UV damage

Eating grapes can protect skin from UV damage

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UV skin damage is caused by exposure to ultraviolet radiation from the sun or man-made sources such as tanning beds. UV radiation can cause a variety of skin problems, including sunburn, premature aging, and skin cancer.

A recent study highlights the potential of grapes to provide photoprotection.

A recent study published in Antioxidants showed that consumption of grapes can protect the skin from UV damage. Study participants who consumed 2 ¼ cups of grapes daily for two weeks showed increased resistance to sunburn. The study also identified a potential link between the gut and the skin, as those participants who had UV resistance also had unique microbiome and metabolomic profiles. The study suggests that natural compounds called polyphenols found in grapes may be responsible for these protective effects.

This new study reinforces previous research in this area. In this study with 29 volunteers, researchers examined the effects of consuming whole grape powder—equivalent to 2 ¼ cups of grapes per day—for 14 days against photodamage from UV light. The subjects’ skin response to ultraviolet light was measured before and after consuming grapes for two weeks by determining the threshold dose of UV radiation that causes visible redness after 24 hours—the minimum erythema dose (MED). In addition, metabolomic analysis of the gut microbiome, blood and urine samples was performed.

Ultimately, one-third of subjects demonstrated UV resistance after consuming grapes, and these same subjects showed significant microbiome and metabolome differences compared to non-responders. It should be noted that the same three urinary metabolites were suppressed in the UV-resistant group. One metabolite in particular (2′-deoxyribose) is a strong indicator of reduced photodamage and suggests unique genetic profiles relevant to personalized medicine.

In addition, three of the UV-tolerant subjects showed a durable response in which UV protection remained after returning to no grape consumption for another four weeks. This work suggests that a portion of the population is able to resist sunburn after consuming grapes and that there is a relationship between the gut-skin axis and UV resistance.

Over 3 million Americans are affected by skin cancer each year, largely as a result of exposure to sunlight. It is estimated that one in five Americans will develop skin cancer by age 70. Most cases of skin cancer are related to exposure to ultraviolet radiation from the sun: about 90 percent of non-melanoma skin cancers and 86 percent of melanomas, respectively. Additionally, approximately 90 percent of skin aging is caused by the sun.

John Pezzuto — lead author of the report and professor and dean at Western New England University in Springfield, Massachusetts — notes, “‘Let thy food be thy medicine, and medicine be thy food’ dates back to the time of Hippocrates.” Now, 2,500 years later, as evidenced by this human study conducted on dietary grapes, we are still learning the reality of this claim.

Reference: “Short-term Grape Consumption Reduces UV-Induced Skin Erythema” By John M. Pezzuto, Asim Dave, Yoon-Jung Park, Diren Beyoglu, and Jeffrey R. Idle, 30 Nov 2022, Antioxidants.
DOI: 10.3390/antiox11122372

The study was funded by the California Dessert Grape Commission. The funder did not participate in the preparation of the document; in the collection, analysis and interpretation of data; when writing the report; or in the decision to submit the article for publication.

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