Updated: Mar 7, 2021
Spring is in the air, the days are getting longer, and the world is coming back to life! Now is the best time of the year to start practicing your wise interactions with the sun!
The benefits of sunshine are endless, but we will try to discuss a few here. Sunlight can help you keep your bones healthy and strong. It can also help you build muscle and get better sleep. It can help to improve your mood and reduce anxiety and depression. And it just so happens that the supplement can boost your immunity to disease. That sure sounds important these days.
Sunlight is available to everybody, everywhere on the planet. It is 100% free, no charge at all. In fact, you can have as much as you like, and it does not ever affect the supply for anybody else.
Sometime around a few million years ago our species lost the fur that covered our bodies. We are not exactly sure why this happened, but we do know that our brains started to get bigger around this time. Are these two benefits linked somehow? We do not really know. But one possible explanation is that an increase in sun exposure, directly onto our skin, helped us develop the brains we have today.
However, today it seems like humans are afraid of the sun. Imagine that. The species called the “children of the sun” could be afraid of the thing that literally made us who we are. More than 100 years ago, we were developing Heliotherapy hospitals that could cure people of all kinds of diseases. Florence Nightingale helped us build hospitals with more sunlight and open air to decrease pathogens. Now we are told to avoid the sun, and that we must slather a bunch of chemicals onto our skin if we wish to be outside for a few minutes.
Direct sunlight tells our skin to make a hormone called vitamin D (which is actually not a vitamin!). Vitamin D has many important functions in the body, and we believe that immunity is one of the most important functions these days. If you have not seen the headlines lately, check this out. People who had inadequate levels of serum vitamin D had much worse outcomes with COVID-19 than those who had adequate levels. And given the percentage of our population who do you have inadequate levels of vitamin D, that does not bode well for us.
The catch? You must get direct sunlight to get the wavelength of light needed to make vitamin D. Unfortunately, glass is efficient at filtering out UVB rays. When you are inside, the sunlight is better than darkness, but it is not enough to stimulate vitamin D production inside your body. Get outside.
But what about skin cancer? Surely nobody wants that. We will go to the research for this one. We also cannot logically come up with a reason why something that was good for us for millions of years somehow is no longer beneficial. How much money have you spent in your lifetime buying creams, lotions, potions, all to protect you from something we evolved with?
We are suggesting that you take a look at how to manage your wise interactions with the sun. Here are three simple tips that we would like to suggest you-
1) Find ways to be outside. See what you can do to get a little bit more time in the sunshine and fresh air! We have found that intermittent short walks are a great way to get some sunshine and reset our brains. Our focus always seems to sharpen after we have been outside. Get creative! See if you can take a call or two on the porch. Maybe you can listen to a book or podcast (we are partial to ours, Boundless Body Radio!) as you walk. And we LOVE walking meetings. What ways can you find to be outside more, not less?
2) Change your diet. We believe the way you eat has a huge impact on how your skin responds with the sun. Before I changed my diet, I would burn easily. I dealt with acne for most of my adolescent years. After changing my diet, I have noticed that I tan much more easily. In fact, a few years ago we took a trip to Mexico in July. I did not use sunscreen and did not burn at all. So, what did I change?
We believe that the biggest dietary culprit for having better skin interactions with the sun is the elimination of vegetable oils. If you think vegetable oils sound healthy, that is on purpose. These oils do not actually come from vegetables, they come from seeds as a protection given from the plant. These oils “oxidize” when exposed to light, heat, and oxygen. When you put a bunch of these into your body, it is nearly guaranteed to make your interactions with the sun more problematic. And unfortunately, they are everywhere, from salad dressings to frying vats.
We have had very few of these oils in our collective diets until just over 100 years ago. Now, chances are you are consuming an extremely high amount of these unnatural and toxic oils. Replace them with more natural fats, like butter, ghee, or olive oil.
3) Be wise about your interactions with the sun. Yes, we know we are repeating ourselves here. We want you to think about these things and be mindful about how you implement them. We suggest starting early in the year if possible, with short interactions outside, but you can do this anytime of the year. We also suggest that you use sunglasses sparingly, maybe for activities like driving, or a vacation to somewhere that has a lot of direct sun.
If you are from Ireland, and you move to Egypt, you might have to start slow. Conversely, if you are from Guatemala, and you move to Norway, you may need to greatly increase the amount of time you spend in the sun. You can also get vitamin D through supplements, which can help, but we think the direct (and free!) version is best. We also suggest using apps like Dminder that tell you how much vitamin D you are generating, based on GPS, weather, and your skin type.
If you must be out in the sun for a long time before your skin is ready for it, we feel very strongly that sunscreen should be your very last resort. Use sunscreen sparingly as you possibly can. Leverage other methods, like long-sleeved shirts, wide brimmed hats, and shade, rather than putting a bunch of chemicals onto your body. You can also use natural products, like coconut oil, which equates to about an SPF of eight or so, but unfortunately only synthetic products can legally be said to have SPF anyway, so we cannot really say that.
Sunscreen, like glass, will block the UVB wavelengths. That will essentially deactivate your body’s natural defense, which is a sunburn. A sunburn is your body’s way of telling you that you have had too much sun exposure. The body releases that energy through heat on the skin, and the redness that you experience is blood coming to the surface of your skin. This is perfectly natural. We do not advocate getting sunburned often. But we prefer to let our bodies tell us when it is time to go indoors.
And ironically, one of the active ingredients in sunscreen is carcinogenic. The kicker? It is only carcinogenic when it is heated up.
Think. About. That.
So get out and play! Be smart about your sun exposure, and let the light purify you from the outside in!
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Co-Owner, Boundless Body