The importance of sunlight to Health
For centuries, civilizations have worshipped the sun. The ancient Egyptians believed in Ra, the sun god, who was considered a source of primal life-giving energy and was even thought to embody the power of the sun itself. The sun, after all, is what allows growth to happen on this planet. And yet, in modern times, the sun has been portrayed as something to be feared and avoided at all costs. But what would happen if we all spent two weeks in a dark room? Our energy levels would plummet, and we would become weaker and sadder. In fact, ⅔ of our energy levels are dependent on the sun for a reason.
Further Reading & Research
How is Skin Related to the Food We Eat?
Our skin, like the rest of our body, is made up of what we eat. Eighty years ago, skin cancer was virtually non-existent, but today, it is a major concern. One potential reason for this increase is the food system, which has been controlled by a few large corporations who have increasingly industrialised the food production processes so that in some countries, the majority of food that is purchased is now labelled as 'ultra processed' foods.
At the same time, much of the foods produced have switched from healthier saturated fats to unsaturated fats in the name of profits. Unsaturated fats are more reactive to oxygen, leading to oxidative stress and disease. Every cell in our bodies needs fat, as every cell membrane is made of it. When we consume unsaturated fats instead of healthy saturated fats, our cell membranes are made of toxins, resulting in suboptimal protection against harmful compounds.
Foods to Avoid and Foods to Incorporate
To address this issue, it is recommended to minimise the consumption of unsaturated fats such as canola oil, sunflower oil, soybean oil, corn oil, and margarine.
Additionally, it is important to avoid packaged food, which is almost entirely controlled by large corporations and often contains unhealthy ingredients.
To counteract oxidative stress, people should add quality sources of vitamin E, such as cold-pressed red palm oil, and vitamin C-rich foods, such as berries and acerola berry or camu camu powder.
Building Sunlight Tolerance
Another reason people are so sensitive to the sun is due to a lack of exposure. Hormesis plays a role in sunlight exposure, and our capacity for sunlight is built through low and regular doses. Going from no time in the sun to spending five hours in it can result in sunburn. Instead, it is recommended to go outside daily, starting with just 10 minutes, and gradually building tolerance. Ignoring the hormetic effect of sunlight exposure can lead to sun damage.
The Health Benefits of Sunlight Exposure
There are numerous health benefits of daily sunlight exposure, including improved insulin sensitivity, optimal circadian rhythm and quality sleep, optimal vitamin D levels, optimal testosterone levels, and a healthy thyroid. Just half an hour of sunlight per day for seven days can result in a 0.8-1.05% decrease in insulin resistance and a 0.4-0.54% improvement in beta-cell function. Sunlight exposure can also increase testosterone levels by up to 200%.
The first point to remember is to always seek qualified medical and healthcare advice before embarking on any course of action that can affect your health. Our nutrition and dietetics team or endocrinology clinic in Dubai can help with you understand the impact of such decisions.
The sun is not something to be feared but rather revered. Sunlight exposure can greatly improve our health, but it is important to start slowly and build tolerance. Before making any changes, it is recommended to consult a healthcare professional. The sun is a source of life, and we all need it to live healthily and happily.