The good word on summer sun

With summer upon us once again we often have thoughts of going to the beach and generally getting out in the fresh air and sunshine. But then there’s the nagging in the back of the mind of how bad the effects of the sun can be for us. I think by now we all know of the negative effects of the sun, but do we have a full understanding of all the good things the sun can offer us? In this issue I would like to discuss some of these.

We get our vitamin D mainly from the sun and we need vitamin D for proper utilisation of calcium. Calcium of course is very important for our bones. The ideal daily sunshine exposure to ensure adequate calcium absorption, is 20% of the skin exposed for 30 minutes at sea level in the early morning or late afternoon sun (to avoid the damaging rays of sun during the middle of the day).

Many people only expose their face and hands (5% of the body) and work inside. Most artificial lighting, both incandescent and fluorescent, lacks the complete balanced spectrum of sunlight and contributes to a condition known as malillumination (lack of illumination) which can be damaging. For example, if certain wavelengths are missing in the light we receive the body cannot fully absorb certain nutrients. The result is that even with adequate nutrition, the body can be malnourished without exposure to the right light. This can contribute to fatigue, depression, hair loss, and suppressed immune function. Our lives, our health and well-being are dependent on the sun.

The human body is nourished directly by the stimulation of sunlight, and indirectly by eating foods and breathing air that has been vitalised by the sun’s light energy. When light enters the eyes, millions of light sensitive cells convert light into electrical impulses that travel along the optic nerve to the brain where they trigger the hypothalamus gland, which is part of the endocrine system. The endocrine system balances the automatic bodily functions such as breathing, digestion, moods, blood pressure, the immune system and can also regulate our hormones.

Not only the eyes, the skin also collects photons of energy from the sun via nerve ganglions which act like electric wires to conduct the photons to all organs for cellular regeneration (similar to what happens with plants in the process called photosynthesis). Photons not only stimulate the endocrine system but also metabolic processes and activities in the brain.

In countries with long dark winters there is a condition called SAD, seasonally affected disorder, which is shown to be a direct result of insufficient light stimulating the retina, specifically the reticular-endocrine system, and causing depression. It is now starting to show up in countries with lots of sunlight because people are so meticulous with their ‘slip, slop, slap and wrapping’ that they are reducing their sun exposure to very low levels. Of course we must be very careful not to go completely the other way with too much exposure at the wrong time of the day. Skin cancer is still very real and affects the lives of many people.

The sun is an important factor in skin cancer manifestation. But we must see it as a factor and not the total picture. Some people get skin cancer even if they have little exposure to the sun and there are some who have had lots of long-term exposure to the sun and not experienced skin cancer. So what is it that makes one person get skin cancer and another not? One of the answers is that the skin is the largest organ of elimination in our body and if any other organ of elimination is compromised in any way then this puts extra burden on the skin. For example if you smoke (which puts more burden on the lungs, an organ of elimination) or if you have a toxic colon then you may increase your chance of contracting skin cancers, even with low sun exposure.

A case history of one of my clients may help to demonstrate what I mean. A 44-year-old lady came to me with a condition of painful muscles all over her body. She didn’t tell me about multiple skin cancers on her back (until later) as she did not think it was relevant at the time. She was actually scheduled for hospital surgery to have these multiple skin cancers removed. However, because there was a waiting time she decided to see me for help with her other condition so she could cope better with the medication and surgery. I suggested a course of colonic irrigation as her bowel was less than efficient. At the end of her treatments she felt much better and then also proclaimed that all of her skin cancers were gone and the surgery was cancelled. Now I do not suggest at all that colonics can cure skin cancer, but if the body is given the right conditions it can often heal itself.

I’m often asked about my view on sunscreens. Normally I do not use a sunscreen on my body because the skin is an important organ of elimination, and I don’t want to block the pores of my skin from eliminating and detoxifying via sweating. However, I am very careful not to expose my body to the harsh rays of the sun between 9am and 4pm. If I do use a sunscreen on my face when I am in the sun, I only use a non waterproof type, so my skin can breathe. I always reapply after swimming. I also prefer natural sunscreens without chemicals.

So what are some other benefits of solar rays?

Lactic acid, a byproduct of muscle metabolism that causes soreness and stiffness after exercise, is significantly reduced by exposure to the sun’s rays. The sun’s rays also increase the ability of the lungs to absorb more oxygen and the blood’s capacity to carry and deliver it. Oxygen deficiency is linked to a range of illnesses.

Studies have also found that some wavelengths of light can stimulate certain enzymes to be up to 500% more effective. More recent research has also shown that sunlight stimulates the thyroid gland to increase hormone levels, which can also increase metabolism and aid weight loss.

In Western countries, summer is the time to play; the time to get outdoors and revitalise. Notice how the major holidays in Australia, USA and the UK occur in summer. With more daylight hours available we’re often able to achieve more and as a result feel better about ourselves. Overall summer creates a general feeling of wellbeing.

Summertime is a natural part of our lives and sunlight should not be totally avoided. Sensible exposure is important to both your health and your emotions. Beware of the harsh rays of the sun between 9am and 4pm, but still get out and enjoy your summer. After all, this is a great part of the world we live in so ... GET OUT AND ENJOY IT!

Originally published in Here & Now magazine, written by Sue Kira, from True Vitality

Related to - Health | Naturopathy

By Sue Kira

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