Why have we evolved to thinking that the sun is so harmful for us? For decades we have been told to drench our skin in toxic sunscreen and to stay covered from the harmful rays. If you ask your grandparents they will tell you that there was no such thing as sunscreen when they grew up.
Looking back at the Ancient Romans and Greek gods, Apollo, god of “sun and light” is also god of “medicine” and he used the sun to heal those who were sick. Perhaps we should take a step back and remember how beneficial the sun is for us and how we can use the sun safely and effectively.
When we lather sunscreen all over our bodies, we are stopping the healing rays from creating Vitamin D in the body. This may be one reason why majority of our society is Vitamin D deficient.
Vitamin D also called “sunshine vitamin” is essential for many important functions in our bodies, such as:
- supporting your immune system
- helping with absorption of calcium and phosphorous which helps strengthens bones and teeth
- reducing your risk of multiple sclerosis, cancer and heart diseases
- protecting against dementia and brain aging
- helping you loose access fat
If you work inside all day, you are depriving your body of this natural vitamin and healing properties. Stepping outside to soak in the sun has many more positive health benefits. Here are 10 more reasons of why you should enjoy the sunshine.
- Sunlight can cure depression: it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to realize that being outside in the sunshine is a happier place then being inside in the dark. Those who work indoors for longer hours are more likely to suffer from depression or seasonal affective disorder (SAD), compared to those who work outside in the sunshine.
- Sunlight supports the immune system: lymphocytes which are white blood cells, increase with exposure to sunlight. These blood cells are crucial to fight off illness and disease. Perhaps this is why it is more common to get sick in the dark winter months.
- The sun kills bad bacteria: Given enough exposure, sunlight can kill bacteria, parasites and viruses. During WWI, German soldiers found that the sun could help disinfect and heal wounds. Sunlight is a natural anti-bacterial and with enough exposure to the sunlight, it can even kill many bacteria in water which would otherwise give us diarrhea.
- The sun’s rays help’s lower blood pressure: Many drugs we take to lower blood pressure have possible dangerous side effects. Studies have shown that exposure to sunlight can significantly lower high blood pressure. That holiday in Jamaica is sounding more and more like a good idea!
- Regular exposure to sunlight, helps children grow: Like plants, we need the sunlight to grow. The sun gives us vitamins to help grow tall like the trees (maybe not that tall, but you get the point!)
- Sunlight reduces asthma and allergic diseases: In 2006, an Australian researcher found that exposure to sunlight for 15 to 20 minutes before exposure to allergens, significantly reduced the asthma-like symptoms. Other studies have shown that due to the Vitamin D exposure from the sun, it helps reduce allergic reactions.
- Sunlight can reduce your chance of dying from cancer: although too much sunlight can cause skin cancer, not having enough sunlight can also increase your chances of getting some of the deadliest cancers. In 2002, a medical journal, Cancer, published a study (http://www.biomedcentral.com/1471-2407/6/264/) which showed that people with adequate exposure to sunlight are less likely to die from cancer.
- Sunshine improves your quality of sleep: when the sunlight hits the eye, it sends messages to the brain to release melatonin (a hormone that helps you sleep). While you’re in the sun, your body decreases the release of melatonin and it doesn’t start again until you’re out of the sun. This allows your body to release enough at night, when you need it to keep you sound asleep.
- Direct exposure to sunlight can help with acne, eczema, psoriasis, and other skin problems: If you have a skin issue, you may find that your symptoms decrease or eliminate during the summer season.
- Sunshine keeps us young and fun: After being cooped up inside for the long winter months, it’s exciting to get out of hibernation and enjoy warmth and light from the sun. With longer days, and less clothes to put on, it allows us to play sports, go on adventures and spend more time engaging with friends and family. Although we can continue all these things in the winter, majority of us do find it more enjoyable in warm weather.
Being safe in the sun is very important. Although I’m not a big fan of sunscreen, it does have a purpose. You do not want to burn your skin, which can lead to skin cancer, however, you do want to get the benefits from the powerful nutrient-blazing fireball we call the sun. Getting 15-20 minutes of direct sunlight exposure several times a week will help to significantly improve your health, possibly without you even knowing it. So, get off the couch, step outside and have an amazing healthy, safe summer!
Michelle Wolfe, RMT