Sunlight as medicine

Back when foreign holidays were allowed, I noticed when looking back at holiday pictures from sunnier climes that I would always looked pale, puffy and bloated in the first day or two. But after a couple of days of relaxing, walking in bare feet and feeling the sun on my skin, I would suddenly look healthier and leaner.

This is no coincidence.

As a child growing up in New Zealand I would spend hours outside in the baking sunshine (it’s particularly hot there as we have a rather thin ozone layer). I was fortunate to have olive skin and didn’t easily burn, but those were the days when people had zero regard for the dangers of too much sun and would lather themselves in coconut oil in the hope of becoming a bronzed beauty.

We have since been somewhat brainwashed that the sun is bad for us, and many people are scared to get any sunlight on them for fear of getting skin cancer, so will either cover themselves up or apply copious amounts of sunscreen before venturing outside. What many do not realise is that many conventional sunscreens contain carcinogenic (cancer-causing) ingredients.

There needs to be a happy medium because it is crucial to get healthy, moderate levels of unprotected sun exposure.

Think about it. Without the sun there would be no life on planet earth. We didn’t evolve over millions of years to suddenly not need the one thing that all life on earth requires for survival. That would not make sense, right?

But here we are, locking ourselves away in the confines of artificially-lit buildings, spending hours staring at computer, television and phone screens that emit blue light which adversely affect our circadian rhythm and can cause sleep issues. We are embracing technology but afraid of sunlight.

Exposure to sunlight provides us with a hormone called vitamin D. A recent clinical review published in the The Journal of the American Osteopathic Association[1] found that 1 billion people worldwide may have deficient or insufficient levels of vitamin D.

Vitamin D is necessary for a healthy immune system and helps keep away disease, including cancer, heart disease, osteoporosis, dementia and auto immune diseases.

Exposure to sunlight also increase’s the brain’s release of a hormone called serotonin. Serotonin is a mood-booster and helps us feel calm and focused.

You do not need to bake yourself in the hottest part of the day – just one hour of natural light in the morning will help you sleep better, reduce stress, strengthen the immune system and help fight depression.

Note that lighter skin synthesizes more vitamin D so people with lighter skin need less time in the sun.

So please take this reminder to get yourself out in sunlight – just be careful to not get burnt.




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