There is a bright truth, that sunshine plays a vital role in our lives as inhabitants of the earth. This post is dedicated to the powerful healing benefits of sunlight, the most precious gold on the planet.
“Those who bring sunshine into the lives of others cannot keep it from themselves.” ― James M. Barrie
Though the sun’s rays are categorized as a carcinogen by the American Academy of Dermatology, mounting research also suggests that modest sunlight is enormously beneficial to our health.
Dr. Frank Lipman, founder of Eleven Eleven Wellness Center in New York City, says this: “It’s about being sensible… Recently, numerous studies have shown that modest, sunscreen-free exposure to sunlight helps the body produce the vitamin D it needs for good health and disease prevention.”
Dr. Lipman recommends stepping outside without sunblock for 20 to 30 minutes a few times a week.“Ô, Sunlight! The most precious gold to be found on Earth.” ― Roman Payne Click To Tweet
There are several factors that affect how each of us metabolizes sunlight, such as skin type, genes, and timing and duration of exposure to the sun. Please, practice safe sun exposure. Here’s a great article on natural remedies for sunburn.
9 Healing Benefits of Sunlight
Sunlight therapy dates back to the ancient Greeks. In India, the ancient yogic phrase atapa snana referenced the healing science of sunbathing. Though the health benefits of sunlight are not newsworthy, they are certainly noteworthy.
1. Cancer Prevention
While prolonged exposure to the sun may lead to skin cancer, other cancers may be prevented by moderate UVR exposure. Such cancers include breast cancer, ovarian cancer, colon cancer, pancreatic cancer, prostate and other cancers, according to a scientific paper published in Environmental Health Perspectives.
It’s important to note that dietary, genetic, and environmental factors also come into play.“Even in the midst of the storm the sun is still shining.” – Dayna Lovely Click To Tweet
Dr. Marc Gillinov, a cardiac surgeon at the Cleveland Clinic, recommends vitamin D supplements for people with osteoporosis or gastrointestinal disorders that keep them from absorbing the vitamin, and also for nursing home residents who rarely go outside. Otherwise, “you’re better off taking a walk outside in the sun a few times a week.”
A study at the Oslo University Hospital found that the benefits of sun exposure far surpassed the risk.
2. Supports Brain Health
Sunlight may help protect against dementia and degeneration of the brain.You are so much sunshine in every square inch. ― Walt Whitman Click To Tweet
One study found that Alzheimer’s patients exposed to bright light had fewer symptoms of depression, nighttime wakefulness and agitation, and lost less function than those exposed to dim daytime lighting.
The protective effects vitamin D may also deem sunlight a beneficial source for preventing multiple sclerosis (MS).
3. Improves Bone Health
Vitamin D synthesis—which is stimulated when the sun contacts the skin—may improve bone density.
Emerging research indicates a direct correlation between bone density and vitamin D3, a byproduct of vitamin D production. Vitamin D3 regulates calcium absorption and lowers your risk for all types of fractures. This is especially important as we age.
4. Lowers Blood Pressure
When the sunlight touches the skin, it stimulates the release of the compound nitric oxide, which helps lower blood pressure.
High blood pressure is one of the biggest risk factors for heart disease and stroke. One survey showed that people living in regions with less sun exposure had a stroke risk 60% higher than those living in sunnier climates.
5. Eases Skin Disorders
6. Increases Blood Oxygen Content
Sunlight improves blood circulation and enhances the body’s ability to deliver oxygen to the tissues.May the wind always be at your back and the sun upon your face... – Irish Blessing Click To Tweet
With effects similar to those of exercise, vitamin D plays a significant role in muscle structure and function. Healthy levels of vitamin D may improve athletic performance, but there is limited evidence to date to support this theory.
7. Bolsters Immunity and Healing
This 2011 study concluded that vitamin D plays a major role in the modulation of the innate and adaptive immune responses.
Sun exposure increases our white blood cell count, which is responsible for defending the body against infections and disease.
Researchers also found that even indirect exposure to sunlight can improve the mood, reduce the perceived stress, and reduce the pain medication usage of patients undergoing surgery. Perhaps Henry Ward Beecher was right when he said, “The sun does not shine for a few trees and flowers, but for the wide world’s joy.”
8. Eases Mild Depression
Sunlight deprivation has been linked to seasonal affective disorder (SAD), a form of depression that is more common in winter months and among people working long hours in office buildings with limited sun exposure. The illumination of nature may help relieve mild depression.“Keep your face to the sun and you will never see the shadows.” – Helen Keller Click To Tweet
This study found that sunlight results in increased levels of serotonin, a neurotransmitter that regulates mood, memory, sleep and appetite. Serotonin is our natural antidepressant, our “happy hormone” that we want more of.
9. Improves Sleep
Studies show that natural sunlight helps maintain the body’s circadian rhythm, our internal clock that regulates biochemical, physiological and behavioral processes. This 24-hour cycle tells us when it’s time to wake up, when it’s time to eat, and when it’s time to sleep.
When sunlight reaches our eyes, the optic nerves sends a message to the pineal gland in the brain to stop producing melatonin—the “sleep hormone” that makes us feel drowsy—until the sun goes down again at night. Sunlight during the day encourages the natural production of melatonin at night.
If we produce too much melatonin during the day and not enough at night, this leads to poor sleep quality, especially in older adults.Live in the sunshine. Swim in the sea. Drink the wild air. – Ralph Waldo Emerson Click To Tweet
Walking outside on a sunny morning is an effective way to let your body know it’s no longer nighttime, as it signals the brain to stop releasing melatonin. Following the natural cycle of our body, this will lead to healthy melatonin production at night and a better night’s sleep.
- How do you practice careful sun exposure?
- Which benefits of sunlight have you experienced?
Please your thoughts, healthy practices that keep you connected to your cool, calm center, and any helpful stories with me in the comments.
Share these benefits of sunlight with someone who loves to keep their face turned to the sun.
Some days, you just have to make your own sunshine.