The Medical Establishment Is in the Dark on the Benefits of Sunlight
Sometimes I get fed up with mainstream doctors’ obsession about keeping us out of the sun. If you followed their advice, you’d lather on sunscreen first thing in the morning, reapply it throughout the day and never let a single ray of sunshine make it unobstructed to your skin.
And your health would suffer as a result.
Yes, you don’t want to get too much sun. You should never let your skin burn. Plus, if you have very light skin, you should be extra careful about your sun exposure every day.
But to be so obsessed about sun damage to your skin that you get no sun at all?
You’d miss out on its health benefits. And those benefits go way beyond the fact that the sun enables the skin to make vitamin D, a substance that is crucial to wellness. Here’s what you miss if you follow mainstream medical advice about sun exposure.
Consider a study performed at the Georgetown Medical Center: Researchers there have found that sunlight revs up the effectiveness of immune cells in the skin called T cells that represent a central part of the body’s defenses against infection.1
The tests showed that the blue part of sunlight’s spectrum mobilizes these cells so they fight disease more energetically.
“T cells, whether they are helper or killer (immune cells), need to move to do their work, which is to get to the site of an infection and orchestrate a response,” according to researcher Gerard Ahern. He’s an associate professor of pharmacology. “This study shows that sunlight directly activates key immune cells by increasing their movement,” he says.
Added to that, Prof. Ahern notes that this activation of T cells is “completely separate” from sunlight’s role in the body’s production of vitamin D. As a matter of fact, he suggests something that will rock the world of alternative health if it turns out to be true: It’s possible that “Some of the roles attributed to vitamin D on immunity may be due to this new (T cell) mechanism.”
The research shows that blue ultraviolet light from the sun penetrates the skin to the inner layer known as the dermis where it gets T cells moving through the skin and throughout the body.
The movement of these immune cells is stimulated by the production of hydrogen peroxide in the cells. And Prof. Ahern points out that “An immune response (when you have an infection) also uses hydrogen peroxide to make T cells move to the damage. This all fits together.”
Take Advantage of The Sun’s Rhythms
Getting some sun every day is also crucial for keeping your body’s daily physiological routines – your circadian rhythms – functioning correctly. When these cycles are disrupted, your health suffers.
And your waistline may expand.
Research at Baylor shows that when your circadian rhythm gets thrown off, the friendly bacteria in your intestines can falter and your response to the food you eat may shift in a way that makes you more liable to put on extra pounds.2
Now, while the study at Baylor was done in the lab, a test at Northwestern shows that getting sunlight in the morning is linked to weighing less.3
The Northwestern researchers found that getting 20 to 30 minutes of sun between eight in the morning and noon can help you stay significantly slimmer.
“If a person doesn’t get sufficient light at the appropriate time of day, it could de-synchronize your internal body clock, which is known to alter metabolism and can lead to weight gain,” warns researcher Phyllis Zee, M.D., Ph.D.
Protect Against Cancer
Although many dermatologists seem preoccupied with the sun’s possible role in skin cancer, a variety of studies show that people who get less sun actually are more vulnerable to developing a wide range of cancers.
A study at the University of California San Diego School of Medicine shows that folks living in areas that get less sunlight (and less of the sun’s rays called ultraviolet B) have double the risk of leukemia.4
The same researchers have also discovered that being exposed to stronger and more frequent sunlight reduces your risk of pancreatic cancer.5
As I said before, when you get out in the sun, don’t let yourself get sunburned – that can damage your skin, increase inflammation in your body and boost your cancer risk.
But if you’re like most people, about twenty minutes a day in the sun, preferably in the morning, without sunscreen, can improve your health. Respect the sun and don’t get too much. Just don’t succumb to the misguided fear of the sun pushed by so many medical folks.