The sun is the most essential energy source for life on Earth and the benefits of sun exposure are astounding.
Life starts with the sun
Without the sun there would be no us. It provides warmth which prevents the Earths water from freezing and keeps the planet’s temperature hospitable for humans.
The sun is the source of all energy. Plants convert and store this energy providing the foundation for an energy transfer system to take place, aka the food web.
Tribes and civilizations have been worshiping the sun since the origins of the thinking brain. The sun’s significance was both revered and feared.
And for good reason…………..
Without the suns gravitational pull Earth would literally be launched into space.
Unfortunately in the last 50-60 years the sun has received a bad reputation and the benefits of sun exposure have largely been ignored.
Modern living neglects the benefits of sun exposure
One negative aspect about modern living which is difficult to dispute is that we spend significantly more time indoors compared to our tribal ancestors.
Those of us working office jobs may miss out on the sun for days at a time. Work, eat, sleep repeat equals no sun seen.
On top of that much of the advice in recent decades regarding sun exposure has been negative.
This has led a generation to believe it is un-healthy to spend time in the sun, or at least without chemical ridden sun-cream.
Avoiding the hottest hours and prolonged exposure is good advice but the benefits of sun exposure in sensible proportions far outweigh any negatives.
Benefits of sun exposure related to vitamin D production
We need the sun to synthesize our own vitamin D. It is possible to obtain Vitamin D through our food, however sun exposure is free and much more efficient. The benefits of sun exposure related to vitamin D production include:
(1) Sun exposure creates strong bones and teeth
(2) Sun exposure improves muscular performance
Vitamin D plays a role in the molecular mechanisms of muscle tissue which possibly impacts muscle fibre composition. Some studies report that vitamin D has a positive effect on muscular function and performance.
(3) Sun exposure can help us lose weight
(4) Sun exposure reduces disease
There are many diseases which sun exposure has been found to help, prevent or cure. These include rickets, various cancers, multiple sclerosis, type 1 diabetes, cardiovascular disease, hypertension, bacterial and viral infections, rheumatoid arthritis, tuberculosis, and high blood pressure.
(5) Sun exposure elevates our mood
Benefits of sun exposure beyond vitamin D production
The benefits of natural sunlight extend beyond the production of vitamin D. These include:
(6) Sun exposure gives the immune system a boost
Natural sunlight improves our adaptive immune response by improving the function of our T-cells (White blood cells that protect the body from foreign invaders).
(7) Sun exposure improves skin health
(8) Sun exposure improves our sleep
Safe practices for the maximum benefits of sun exposure
There are many benefits of sun exposure in sensible quantities.
As with everything in life there becomes a point where something which has a positive effect on health can assume a negative effect if balance is not achieved.
This can be particularly true for the sun. Luckily our body has a built mechanism which tells us when we are overheating and beginning to burn.
Often humans forget to listen to this mechanism unlike other animals which naturally find shade when they are overheating.
If we pay attention we will intuitively begin to realize when it is time to seek shade.
It is crucial that we never allow ourselves to burn. This is when the sun has a detrimental effect on our health.
The amount of sun exposure needed varies
It is often advised to avoid the sun between the hours 12-3pm which is great advice when the weather is hot in any country.
In the northern hemisphere during the cooler months this may be the only time which the body will be able to synthesize enough vitamin D.
It is also true that dark skin requires about 5-6 times more sun than light skin to produce the same amount of vitamin D.
Depending on the individual, the time of year, and the country the amount of sun exposure required can vary.
It is important we listen to our own bodies. Gradually building the time spent in the sun is best way to go about this.
Spend time outdoors and you will receive all the benefits of sun exposure and more…
All the science is great but really all we need to do is listen our innate wisdom to determine what is healthy for us.
It feels great to spend time in nature. It feels awesome to have the sun on your face. It sucks to burn. There are so many benefits to spending time outdoors. We evolved outdoors so we thrive in that environment.
Science apologizes Apollo, looks like they previously had it wrong after-all. Its time to rewild. Lets get humans back to nature and enjoy some rays.