We were made to coexist with the sun
You would never know it from mainstream media and health advice, but the truth of the matter is we as a species were made to live in the sun. Consider this – it is an almost universal experience to feel a surge of pleasure when exposed to warm sunshine.
Of course, we are over-stimulated by such a barrage of sensory input in our modern world that many may not realize this feeling, but if one sits outside facing direct sunlight in a totally relaxed and quiet state you will recognize this feeling washing over your body.
I have written before on some of the health benefits garnered from sensible sun exposure. If you like you can read my prior posts titled Benefits of Vitamin D and Sunlight and Sun Avoidance and Early Death.
Why You Need Sunlight for Optimal Health
I am linking below to a video titled “Why You Need Sunlight for Optimal Health” by Dr. Richard Gerhauser, a medical doctor who believes in preventative medicine through a natural foods diet and lifestyle and who blogs at naturalfoodsdiet.org. This video was recently posted on his YouTube channel.
Dr. Gerhauser is a huge believer in living our lives as close to our natural predecessors as possible, considering of course that in today’s modern society one cannot completely disengage. However, there are strategies which one can employ to reap some of the benefits of living as we once did naturally.
I will also link to a second video posted by Dr. Gerhauser where he expands on some of this philosophy based on a recent week long hike he did in the high mountains of the western U.S. While he talks about these elements of lifestyle often, his main focus still remains on eating whole natural foods.
Back to the subject of sunlight, Dr Gerhauser discusses in the video how sunlight shining on our skin influences production of many hormones, including these:
Sunlight also stimulates production of neurotransmitters which give us pleasure and enrich our lives such as dopamine and seratonin. Of course, the ultimate benefit is the production naturally of Vitamin D, which is now believed to play a critical role in health.
You can of course supplement with Vitamin D, and there will be times where that is the only option such as in northern latitudes during winter. However, we are increasingly finding that supplements do not have the same efficacy as naturally produced nutrients from our environment and food. You can see this post on Vitamin D supplementation for more on this.
A second major reason sunlight is so important is that out entire metabolism is regulated by circadian rhythms, the cycle of light which is repeated daily through day and night. Our internal clocks which regulate our metabolism function best when stimulated by light in sync with nature.
Early morning light exposure is critical to starting this hormonal and metabolic process, while mid-day sunlight exposure also has separate but just as important benefits from the UVA wavelength regulating production of melatonin and dopamine and the UVB wavelength producing Vitamin D. Living in sync with the sun is how we were meant to live, and the closer we come to doing this the better our bodies function.
It should go without saying that exposing yourself to sunlight needs to be sensible – it is a benefit which can be turned on you by abusing it. By all means avoid sunburn, and Dr. G gives some tips on this in the video as well. He also covers several other topics which I have not mentioned.
Consider at least some moderate direct sun exposure as you move to a healthier life – any is better than none, and you really do not need to invest huge periods of time every day. Being in the sun five minutes before work in the morning and 10 to 15 minutes at lunch can make a big difference.
Enjoy the videos.
Links to Natural Foods Diet videos: