June 2023

Summer Snacks with Skincare in Mind

If we think of health as an artform, then food, exercise, and even medications and medical treatment are tools that we can use to paint the picture of health for our lives. As we learn more about how the body works, we can better choose how best to use the tools that we have to optimize our health. 


With the arrival of summer, let's consider the effects of the sun on our skin as an example of artistic strokes that will help us to avoid becoming a color study (due to tanning and skin damage) over the next few months. 

Carotenoids, such as beta-carotene, lycopene, and lutein, are natural antioxidants that lend vibrant colors to many fruits and vegetables, including carrots, tomatoes, and leafy greens. Beyond their visual appeal, these compounds offer a range of benefits for skin health.

Research suggests that carotenoids contribute to a healthy complexion by enhancing the skin's natural sun protection.1 While not a substitute for sunscreen, carotenoids may provide an additional layer of defense against the harmful effects of ultraviolet (UV) radiation, potentially reducing the risk of sunburn and UV-induced skin damage.

When it comes to maintaining healthy and vibrant skin, external skincare products often take center stage. Scientists are finding that carotenoids are added to sunscreens and skin care products to add another layer of external protection.

To reap the skin-nourishing benefits of carotenoids, it is essential to incorporate a colorful array of fruits and vegetables into your diet. Aim for a variety of produce, including carrots, sweet potatoes, tomatoes, spinach, kale, and bell peppers, which are rich sources of different carotenoids. Don’t be confused that this is not a list of all orange foods. Plants contain multiple pigments and some are masked by more prominent ones, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that they aren’t present. Chlorophyll, a green pigment, in combination with orange carotenoids make for a darker green leaf color–another artistic stroke of nature.

While dietary intake is crucial, it's important to note that carotenoids are fat-soluble compounds, meaning their absorption is enhanced in the presence of dietary fats.2 Enjoy carotenoid-rich foods with a healthy fat, such as olive oil or avocado, to maximize their bioavailability and potential benefits for your skin.

Embrace a diet rich in carotenoid-packed fruits and vegetables to promote skin health from within. By harnessing the power of these natural antioxidants, you can nourish your skin, combat oxidative stress, and maintain a radiant complexion that shines with vitality.

Suggested Summer Reads

Cancer Hates Tea

by Marie Uspenski

Explores the connection between tea and its potential benefits in preventing and fighting cancer. The book delves into the science behind tea's healing properties, providing valuable information and practical tips for incorporating tea into a healthy lifestyle. Uspenski recommends five cups of black, green, white, oolong, or pu-erh tea a day for maximum benefit. Each type of tea has different concentrations of plant chemicals that affect the taste and their relationship to health and cancer. She presents a variety of ways to combine flavors, price points, and style preferences to make tea accessible to the palate and pocketbook in every reader. Cancer Hates Tea serves as a comprehensive guide, promoting the healing power of this ancient beverage.

The Jungle Effect

by Dr. Daphne Miller

Looks at the relationship between various indigenous diets and the health of communities. Miller is a family practice physician who has an interest in sustainable farming and the connections between the health of the land and the health of the food that is grown in the soil. Through her international travels, Dr. Miller uncovers secrets behind the remarkable health and longevity of peoples eating in their culture’s indigenous way. She searches for answers to questions like these: “How does the diet of the people of Okinawa, Japan contribute to their long life span,” and “How does the local diet in Iceland help prevent seasonal affective disorder?” These indigenous diets seem to counteract depression, breast cancer, and heart disease. Drawing on scientific research and personal anecdotes, she reveals the power of traditional diets in preventing and even reversing chronic diseases. The book offers recipes and practical advice on how to incorporate these healthy eating principles into our modern lives.

The Power of Habit

by Charles Duhigg

Investigates the psychology behind habits and their influence on our daily lives. We are all looking for a way to make new, healthier habits stick and getting rid of pesky, unhealthy ones. Duhigg delves into the science of habit formation, drawing on research from various fields to unravel the mechanics behind our routines and behaviors. Through captivating anecdotes and real-life examples, he illustrates how habits shape our personal and professional lives because we execute habits without thinking. How many of us have a cup of coffee in the morning? We turn the coffee pot on practically before our eyes are open. We have trained ourselves to recognize cues (waking up) that cause an automatic routine (turning the coffee pot on) to gain a reward (a warm feeling of alertness in the morning). We can harness this power of habit to create positive health changes by acknowledging the cues and the rewards that motivate us and implementing a healthy routine. Duhigg's engaging storytelling makes this book a valuable resource for understanding and transforming our habits.

Food Rules

by Michael Pollen

Follows the same vein as his now-famous mantra, “Eat Food. Not too much. Mostly plants.” This book is a practical guide that distills the complex world of nutrition into straightforward principles. With a focus on simplicity, Pollan presents 64 easy-to-follow guidelines for making healthy food choices. Maybe 64 sounds like a lot, but as you read the book, it feels attainable. “Eat when you are hungry, not when you are bored; Do all your eating at a table; and Pay more. Eat less.” are three examples of the wisdom Pollen shares with the reader. Drawing on his extensive experience, he debunks common myths and offers valuable insights into the impact of our food choices on our health and the environment. Pollan's witty and accessible writing style makes "Food Rules'' an engaging read, while his emphasis on whole, unprocessed foods and mindful eating provides readers with a solid foundation for making informed decisions about what they eat. This book is a must-have for anyone seeking to adopt a health-minded, thought provoking, and “easy to digest” lifestyle around healthy eating.

PhytoRx Recipe: Sweet Potato Bowls

One of the great things about sweet potatoes is their long shelf life. Sweet potatoes harvested in the fall are still ready to use through summer. For a summertime twist, throw your sweet potatoes on the grill!

Click here for the recipe!


In May, Cheri Granillo graduated from UNC Charlotte with the degree, Doctor of Nursing Practice. This degree program prepares nurse leaders at the highest level of nursing practice to improve patient outcomes and translate research into practice.

With 19 years of experience as a nurse practitioner, Granillo was aware of many challenges facing the nursing profession. She chose to address the limited nutrition education in advanced healthcare curricula, which leaves healthcare providers unprepared to use nutrition to treat diagnoses that have been shown to respond to dietary intervention. Her project attempted to determine if the knowledge, attitudes and confidence about nutrition could be improved with a short course.

Her results suggested the interdisciplinary nutrition online learning module, now used to train providers to utilize PhytoRx, improved confidence in nutrition information and led to increased interest in sharing nutrition information with community members and clients. 

She continues to roll out PhytoRx and has offered provider training in Rockingham County, coordinated by NC Cooperative Extension agent, Jordan Jefferies-James. HealthReach Community Clinic in Mooresville recently launched its third cohort of participants, a Spanish language pilot group. Granillo, fluent in Spanish, expanded the program by translating the PhytoRx resources, including videos, recipes and presentation slides. 

Interested in learning more about PhytoRx? Let’s connect!


1. Baswan, S. M., Klosner, A. E., Weir, C., Salter-Venzon, D., Gellenbeck, K. W., Leverett, J., & Krutmann, J. (2021). Role of ingestible carotenoids in skin protection: A review of clinical evidence. Photodermatology, photoimmunology & photomedicine, 37(6), 490–504.

2. Bera, S., Mitra, R., & Singh, J. (2023). Recent advancement in protected delivery methods for carotenoid: a smart choice in modern nutraceutical formulation concept. Biotechnology & genetic engineering reviews, 1–57. Advance online publication.

Let's connect!
Cheri Granillo
Translational Nutrition Program Manager
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