Hey! – Rob here 👋🏼
Your Daily Health Fix today is about …
The protective effects of safe sun exposure
Once upon a time, people inherently knew that the sun was healing. In fact patients suffering from ailments with no known pharmacological treatment were often prescribed time in the sun.
Then the narrative changed. Associations were made between various forms of skin cancer and sun exposure. At the same time UVB absorbing Sunscreens were developed, and naturally, skin cancer scare mongering was used as a way to market these products. Exact guidance around the world varies, but the general message tends tends to combine ‘Avoid sun exposure at all costs’ and ‘When in the sun apply and reapply SPF 50 sunscreen’.
It turns out that this message was misguided, and the avoidance of sun exposure is a risk factor for death of a similar magnitude as smoking.
So here’s a few of the reasons why regular sun exposure is beneficial to your health.
People that spend more time in the sun have more dense bone tissues.
This should seem obvious as advice from a bygone era to new parents was to put their babies outside to tan so as to prevent poor bone development and Ricketts disease.
The same applies in other key development stages, and becomes especially critical in later life. Regular sun exposure throughout life is beneficial for maintaining bone mass. For older populations this is important for avoiding conditions such as Osteoporosis.
LOWERED BLOOD PRESSURE
There are two mechanisms thought to lower blood pressure following sun exposure.
One is that the effects of UV radiation on the skin act to catalyse the release of nitric oxide into the blood stream. Nitric Oxide acts as a vasal dilator causing the blood vessels to expand and become more pliable. This results in reduced blood pressure.
At the same time, increases in Vitamin D act to counter immune attacks or malfunction of key organs and processes, maintaining good health. Typically we see a rise in blood pressure when someone is sick or suffering, or one of their systems isn’t functioning optimally.
BOOSTED SEX DRIVE
Exposure to UV radiation has been shown to increase feelings of desire, romance and passion. This may be due to upregulated testosterone production following sun exposure. One study also observed the positive impact increased levels of vitamin D had on sexual function in both men and women.
We know that daylight strongly influences efficient circadian rhythms.
Getting sunlight in your eyes at dawn causes the secretion of serotonin (the happy hormone). This aids sleep at night as your body converts the serotonin into melatonin (the sleep hormone). Without enough serotonin, you may not have enough melatonin later in the day.
At the same time, the change in light colour frequencies later in the day, from ultra violet to infra red, signals to the brain to start converting serotonin into melatonin. Being outside at dusk can really help solidify your sleep cycle.
IMPROVED COGNITIVE FUNCTION
From reduced symptoms of depression, to improved concentration and mental sharpness, sun exposure can be a critical factor in maximising your output and feeling happier.
The bacteria in our gut are responsible for how effectively we digest nutrients from our food. This area of research is still in it’s infancy, yet it has been shown that sun exposure positively impacts the gut flora. Having a healthier gut enables better absorption of key vitamins and minerals.
BOLSTERED IMMUNE FUNCTION
From reducing inflammation to upregulated B and T cells for fighting infection, sun exposure has been shown to improve immune function helping us to recovery quicker or avoid illness in the first place.
REDUCED CANCER RATES
Despite the fear mongering, all cause mortality and death from cancers are lower in populations that enjoy more time in the sun.
In the same way that our boosted immune system fights of infection and inflammation, improved immune function also serves to detect and destroy mutated cells before they develop into a diagnosable form of cancer.
Ok, there’s no science in this one, but who doesn’t feel their best after a day at the beach and a glow in their skin?!
So in conclusion, contrary to popular dogma, sun exposure may be essential to optimal biological function and longevity of health. The biggest risks seem to be associated with sun burns rather than sun exposure (and currently those risks seem to be the same for indoor tanning too), so build up your time under the rays slowly, and don’t go close to your burning threshold.
. . . That’s it for this dose,
Until the next time – Stay Motivated!💪🏼
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References . . .
Sunlight and vitamin D for bone health and prevention of autoimmune diseases, cancers, and cardiovascular disease
Association between Daily Sunlight Exposure and Fractures in Older Korean Adults with Osteoporosis: A Nationwide Population-Based Cross-Sectional Study
Vitamin D status, including serum levels and sun exposure are associated or correlated with bone mass measurements diagnosis, and bone density of the spine
The role of vitamin D in maintaining bone health in older people
Does Incident Solar Ultraviolet Radiation Lower Blood Pressure?
Associations of Blood Pressure, Sunlight, and Vitamin D in Community-Dwelling Adults: The Reasons for Geographic and Racial Differences in Stroke (Regards) Study
Post-exposure persistence of nitric oxide upregulation in skin cells irradiated by UV-A
Ultraviolet Radiation-Induced Production of Nitric Oxide:A multi-cell and multi-donor analysis
Sun Exposure and Its Effects on Human Health: Mechanisms through Which Sun Exposure Could Reduce the Risk of Developing Obesity and Cardiometabolic Dysfunction
Skin exposure to UVB light induces a skin-brain-gonad axis and sexual behavior
The effect of low vitamin D status on sexual functioning and depressive symptoms in apparently healthy men: a pilot study
The effect of vitamin D on sexual function: A systematic review
Effect of Light on Human Circadian Physiology
Effects of light on human circadian rhythms, sleep and mood
Early evening light mitigates sleep compromising physiological and alerting responses to subsequent late evening light
Systematic review of light exposure impact on human circadian rhythm
Long-term residential sunlight exposure associated with cognitive function among adults residing in Finland
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Effect of sunlight exposure on cognitive function among depressed and non-depressed participants: a REGARDS cross-sectional study
Skin Exposure to Narrow Band Ultraviolet (UVB) Light Modulates the Human Intestinal Microbiome
More Than Effects in Skin: Ultraviolet Radiation-Induced Changes in Immune Cells in Human Blood
The risks and benefits of sun exposure 2016
Vitamin D and Sunlight: Strategies for Cancer Prevention and Other Health Benefits
Sun exposure and risk of melanoma
Sun Exposure and Melanoma, Certainties and Weaknesses of the Present Knowledge
Avoidance of sun exposure as a risk factor for major causes of death: a competing risk analysis of the Melanoma in Southern Sweden cohort