The Amazing Health Benefits of Safe Sun Exposure
12 Good Reasons to Get out in the sunligt often
- and how to get that Naturally Healthy Bronze Tan
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The sun’s ability to charge our bodies with vitamin D makes it extremely powerful at minimizing free radical damage and maintaining moisture in the skin. An appropriate amount of sun exposure everyday is one of the healthiest things you can do for your skin.
Despite the push for more awareness about sun exposure, and the advice to use sunscreen whenever we go outside incidences of melanoma is rising dramatically.
In fact, skin cancer rates are rising by 4.2% annually despite the fact that we spend less time outdoors and wear more sunscreen.
Perhaps there is a deeper underlying cause and the cure is not to stay out of the healing rays of the sun.
There are lots of alternative methods. Methods that may not have the support of the medical community, but for which supportive research do exist.
contents In this blog:
The Sun And Me
Salute The Sun
UVA, UVB and UVC
the vital Vitamin D
Sunlight Versus Supplements
Sunscreens, Chemicals, Pesticides Fluorescent Bulbs and Melanoma
Natural Sun Protection
Eat Your Sunscreen to help Rejuvenate Your Skin
12 Healing Reasons to catch Some Rays
Optimizing Sun Exposure
Homemade Healthy Sunscreen
1. The sun and me
In February 2006 I was diagnosed with melanoma. “When you go outside, it's on with SPF 50 from now on". My doctor ordered after the treatment. "What about vitamin D?" I asked. "You can buy them at the pharmacy." He replied. I obeyed because I was actually now terrified of the sun.
The diagnosis was a turning point. I finally realized how much I had let myself down with poor diet, skin products filled with chemicals and hormones, a lifestyle and a job where I worked hard every day, but never felt happy or recognized – and way too much solarium and way too long days on the beaches of Southern Europe in summertime.
Over the following nine years I changed almost everything in my life. New job, new diets, new man, new friends, ditched coffee, sugar, alcohol, gluten, milk products and other toxins and no solarium and sunshine. I drank buckets of vegetable juices, supplemented with vitamin D tablets, meditated, was in therapy, did yoga and Pilates regularly, tried to keep stress at bay and kept myself in the shade all year round.
The result was that I, despite all the healthy stuff I’d implemented in my life, after some years I kept getting infections and viruses. I had dark circles around my eyes, was never really happy, and I had a constant feeling of unease that I couldn’t get rid off neither with breathing exercises nor meditation.
I reasoned for multiple causes: That I was not on the right path in my life. That it could be menopause or old stress and anxiety that just wouldn’t let go.
I'm an action-oriented person so I did a lot of things to fix the problem, and much of it did help for a while, but the symptoms kept coming back.
Then New Year's Eve 2014, which I celebrated at an old friends house, I got into a conversation with a doctor about subjects like skin cancer, vitamin D, and sunshine (which one naturally does New Year's Eve ,,,) "It's fine to supplement with vitamin D, but you can’t absorb them properly unless you get some sunshine too." She said. That was completely new to me, and I was somewhat sceptical about that theory to start with and wasn’t quite sure if I’d understood it right.
Nevertheless, for the first time in nine years, when the first spring sun peeped out in 2015, I sunbathed in my garden - wearing only a bikini and no SPF. I grilled myself under the midday sun for twelve minutes on both sides - no more - for a few days in row. It provoked some anxiety in the head, but my body completely calmed down - as if my batteries was recharging. My skin got smoother and I felt happier. My body had really hungered for the sun.
Back then I 2006 I was also told that my leathery skin was forever damaged and that skin can’t regenerate, but today my skin stronger and more supple than i was 15 years ago. There is no doubt that you have to be careful under the sun, but to completely avoid it is at least as dangerous, and there ARE natural ways to strengthen the skin and to prevent damage.
2. SALUTE THE SUN
Humans evolved in the sunlight. The sun is our life source - it creates life. Real yogis salutes the sun every day.
If you leave a plant in the shade, it dies no matter how much you water and fertilize it. The lushest places on the planet are in the tropics. The most futile places on the planet are at the poles. It just doesn’t work without sun unless you’re mole. It makes sense that without it our bodies suffer.
3. UVA, UVB and UVC
UV RADIATION FROM THE SUN CONSISTS OF UV A- B AND C:
- UVC is very damaging to DNA and can cause skin cancer. The Rays are stopped by the ozone layer, but found in some fluorescent light bulbs (eg twisted CFLs).
- UVB radiation is partly inhibited by the ozone layer
- UVA radiation penetrates almost unimpeded through the atmosphere and can penetrate glass.
There are two primary types of UV rays from sunlight that you need to focus on. The UVB, which produces vitamin-D and the UVA, which damages and causes an early ageing of the skin.
- UVA rays are quite constant during ALL hours of daylight, throughout the entire year. UVA doesn’t burn, but it goes through glass and penetrates into to the deeper layers of the skin(dermis and hypodermis) where it among other things destroys elasticity and collagen.
- UVB are low in the morning, evening and winter, and high at midday. UVB only penetrates through the top layers of dermis. They are the rays that burn the skin, but also the ones that provide the vital vitamin-D.
4. The Vital Vitamin D
Vitamin D3 operates more as a hormone in the body – a chemical messengers that is more active than previously believed, vitamin D from the sun optimize 10% of our genes, and about 30 organs from the skin- to breast tissue to the white blood cells have receptors for active vitamin-D.
Vitamin D strengthens the immune system, regulates mineral absorption - including calcium, it prevents heart diseases and several of the major cancers such as lung, breast and prostate cancer.
Vitamin D builds the immune system, as it increases the white blood cells, which play a major role in defending the body against infections.
Vitamin D deficiency may actually be an underlying cause of influenza. Studies has shown that people with the lowest vitamin D levels indeed reported having significantly more colds or cases of the flu.
Vitamin D increases anti-microbial peptides in your lungs, which may be one reason why colds and flus are most common in the winter, when sunlight exposure (and therefore the body's natural vitamin D production) is at its lowest.
Vitamin D3 deficiency plays a role in development of diabetes, depression, autoimmune disorders, arthritis and osteoporosis, muscle weakness and - pain, periodontal disease and birth defects.
Vitamin D is the most important nutrient for healthy skin. If the body is deficient in Vitamin D, the epidermal cells will not differentiate optimally. This causes the outer layer of the skin to become fragile and thin. Dryness and wrinkles set in as moisture is lost and the skin begins to sag.
Our bodies were designed to get vitamin D from the sun. Before vitamin-fortified foods and vitamin D supplements, the sun was the only real way for the human body to form vitamin D.
5. Sunlight Versus Supplements
When we’re exposed to UVB rays, our bodies make vitamin D3 sulfate. This is a water-soluble form of vitamin D3. The vitamin D3 available in supplement form is un-sulfated and not water-soluble and it relies on LDL (the so-called “bad” cholesterol) to carry it to receptors in the body, whereas sulfated vitamin D needs no carrier. Un-sulfated vitamin D may not provide the same benefits because of its lack in mobility and perhaps availability in the body.
The sulphated form of vitamin D offers the protection from cancer. It strengthens your immune system. It protects you from cardiovascular disease. It’s good for your brain. It helps depression.
The natural vitamin D3 is not toxic, so you'll need very large doses to experience any side effects.
6. Sunscreens, Chemicals, Pesticides Fluorescent Bulbs and Melanoma
It's a good idea to have your skin checked once a year by a dermatologist not so much because you've been on a trip down to the South beaches, but because more and more studies shows that, while it remains important to monitor our sun exposure, what is really destroying our natural relationship with the sun, lies in our exposure to chemicals that destroys our immune systems. Below a few examples. For further info read here.
What is on your skin gets in your blood. About 75% of the sunscreens contain toxic chemicals that can increase your risk of cancer and other health issues. Some release skin-damaging free radicals in sunlight, some act like oestrogen and disrupt hormones, and several can cause allergic reactions and skin irritation.
The common sunscreen ingredients oxybenzone, methoxycinnamate, and PABA are estrogenic chemicals linked to cancer.
Oxybenzone, was found in 96% of the population in a recent study. This is especially alarming since oxybenzone is considered an endocrine disruptor, can reduce sperm count in men and may contribute to endometriosis in women.
Fluorescent light bulbs
Most of those affected by melanoma are working and staying indoors most of the times, the reason might be vitamin D deficiency, but several other studies suggest that some un-shielded fluorescent light bulbs - CFLs - can cause melanoma.
Fluorescent lamps, large and compact, work by using electricity to excite mercury vapour inside the bulb. The excited vapour then emits invisible UVC-rays that are absorbed by the bulb's phosphor coating. In turn, the coating re-emits the energy as visible light.
It is the twisted bulbs, which emit most of the DNA damaging UVC. So check if your CFLs are hedged.
Glyphosate – is a chemical sprayed all over gene modified crops that scientists are now linking to the deadly form of skin cancer. Glyphosate are blocking the body's ability to assimilate and utilize key nutrients that are needed to ward off cancer. It destroys the microbial profile of the human gut so the antioxidant levels within the body are hindered, and the capability of the immune system is weakened from the inside out.
7. Natural Sun Protection
After millions of years under the sun our bodies have evolved multiple ways to protect ourselves. Locally in the skin, there are three major mechanisms of photo protection, which are the body's defence against further UV damage.
- UVB stimulates the production of new melanin, which leads to a heavy increase in the dark-coloured pigment within a few days (our natural sunscreen). This tan may last a relatively long time (weeks).
- UVB also stimulates the cells to produce a thicker epidermis. Therefore, UVB is responsible both for the darkening and thickening of the outer cell layers
- Large amounts of the cancer inhibiting vitamin D3 are made in your skin when you expose your body to UVB rays.
As mentioned above have outdoor workers paradoxical a decreased risk of melanoma compared with indoor workers, suggesting that chronic sunlight exposure can have a protective effect.
So if you predominantly expose your skin to UVA rather than UVB you may be getting sun damage without the benefit of innate skin protection. If you want to get out in the sun to maximize your vitamin D production, and minimize your risk of malignant melanoma, a bit of the middle of the day sun is the best and safest.
So there you go. When it comes to sunlight, things are not always what they seem. Focusing our full attention to blocking ALL sunlight to protect ourselves, we may have unwittingly increased our UVA to UVB ratio.
To summarise: what are the effects of receiving too much UVA and not enough UVB:
- Reduced propensity to sunburn
- Reduced melanin production – > reduced photo protection
- Reduced Vitamin D production
- Increased Vitamin D breakdown
And how to you ensure you upset this balance in favour of UVA:
- Wear sunscreen that predominantly filters UVB
- Consequently stay out in the sun too long because your sunscreen prevents you from burning so you continue to receive UVA without a burning signal to get your ass in the shade
- Go out in the sun early in the morning and late in the afternoon and avoid midday hours (when you actually get some UVB exposure)
- Get a “safe tan” in the solarium
- Stay indoors and get all your sunlight through the window
Sounds like something we have been doing for the last 30 years.
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8. Eat Your Sunscreen to help Rejuvenate Your Skin
Sunburn is a type of inflammation, and diet has a tremendous impact on inflammation in the body. The most essential sun protection is to eat an anti-inflammatory diet and a diet that rebuilds the texture and the resistibility of the skin.
5 Foods to Avoid:
- Processed foods
- Chemical processes vegetable oils like margarine, canola oil, soybean oil, corn, sunflower, safflower, etc. (they were practically non-existent in our diets until the early 1900s when new chemical processes allowed them to be extracted).
- Cut back on omega 6 (fast food, animal fats, chemical processes vegetable oils – see above)
- Grains – creates inflammation in the body
- Sugars – destroys collagen and speed up aging processes in the skin.
8 Sun Protecting Foods (prefer organic to avoid pesticides):
- Carotenoids and Olive oil. Carotenoids are found in all green parts of plants, where they convert the excess light energy to heat. Without carotenoids plants would soon be killed by sunlight. Research has shown that the human body develops a resistance to the harmful rays of the sun because of the carotenoids. Foods rich in carotenoids: carrots, broccoli, sweet potatoes, dark green leafy vegetables
- Olive oil is rich in monounsaturated fatty acids that help the body to maximize the absorption of carotenoids. Mix your veggies with olive oil. Despite warm climate and many sun hours only three in every 100,000 residents of countries in the Mediterranean develop any form of skin cancer - in Australia, the figure is 50 in every 100,000 residents. One reason is the mixture of the content of carotenoids and monounsaturated fatty acids in the diet. My favourite Olive Oil shop is this one . You can read more abour this oil on my blog post.
- Healthy saturated fats (coconut oil, extra virgin olive oil, avocado, nuts, cocoa, ghee - clarified butter)
- Foods rich in omega-3s (fish especially fatty ones, chia seeds, flax seeds, basil, oregano, soy beans, tofu etc.)
- Leafy greens (spinach, kale, parsley etc.)
- Two+ tablespoons of tomato paste daily.
- Drink Tea daily especially green tea: Unsurprisingly, there’s also evidence that green tea, specifically its polyphenols, inhibit the development of skin tumors by controlling inflammation and preventing DNA damage. Topical green tea extracts applied directly to the skin also offer photo protection.
- Eat organic berries and red grapes. Proanthocyanidins, which can be found in grape seeds, berries like blueberries and huckleberries, nuts like hazelnuts and pistachios, and certain niche grains like sorghum and barley, have been efficacious in preventing UV damage in hairless rodents.
9 skin protecting supplements:
- Vitamin C: Is a potent anti-inflammatory agent, and good for the immune system.
- One shot of ¼ cup organic extra virgin olive in a cup with 1 tsp of turmeric and a pinch of pepper. The Medium Chain Fatty Acids and saturated fat are easily utilized by the body for new skin formation and are protective against burning. See my previous post about olive oil
- Cod liver oil is perhaps the most important sun protection supplement. It stops inflammation, increases the liver's cleansing process and gives a beautiful skin. Nordic Naturals has the purest form of fish oils, which are cleansed from heavy metals. Directions: one teaspoon daily, with food, or as directed by your health care professional.
- Ghee contains butyric acid that is blocking the growth of toxic bacteria in the intestine and reduces inflammation in the body. Ghee and cod liver oil creates good synergy in the body. Use Ghee for frying.
- Astaxanthin: The super-antioxidant found in algae, the organisms that eat it, and the organisms that eat those organisms (like salmon, shrimp, and pink flamingo – the pink/red color gives it away). Research shows, that it acts as an internal sunscreen. It’s also supposedly an anti-aging supplement. Food rich in astaxanthin: Salmon
- Lycopene: Is a carotenoid found in tomatoes that has been shown in a recent in vivo RCT to protect humans against sun damage. Cooked tomatoes, and tomato products like paste and sauce, offer far more bioavailable lycopene than raw tomatoes. Foods rich in lycopene: Guavas, watermelon, tomatoes, papaya, grapefruit, sweet red peppers, asparagus, red cabbage, mangoes, carrots.
- Curcumin: With its well-documented anti-inflammatory and anti-cancer effects, curcumin, a purified derivative of turmeric, is a promising nutraceutical for solar protection. Test-tube experiments show that it can halt replication of melanoma cells.
- Pycnogenol: An extract of the bark of the French maritime pine grown in Southern France, a region of blistering sunlight. Doubles resistance to skin reddening. Pycnogenol has also has been documented to prevent collagen cross-linking, a hallmark of loss of skin elasticity and wrinkling.
- Grape seed Extract: rich content of proanthocyanidins. A landmark study of hairless mice exposed to UV radiation showed that oral supplementation reduced the incidence and severity of skin cancers.
9. twelve Healing Reasons to catch Some Rays
It is not just plants that absorb and metabolize sunlight. Human beings do it too.
Here are twelve huge health benefits of moderate sun exposure you absolutely should know about.
- Sunlight and whole foods send breast cancer into remission. The American physician Dr. Zane Kime used sunbathing and nutrition to cure his patients. Even in terminal cases, Dr. Kime was able to completely reverse the metastasized cancer.
- Sun exposure improves bone health. It is a well known fact that vitamin D stimulates the absorption of bone-strengthening calcium and phosphorus in the body. However, emerging research also indicates there is a direct correlation between bone density and vitamin D3. Vitamin D3 is a fat-soluble vitamin formed during the process of Vitamin D manufacture when sunlight hits the skin. It regulates calcium absorption. When you have higher levels of vitamin D3 in your blood, you are at a lower risk of suffering fractures of virtually all types. On the other hand, lower levels of vitamin D3 in the blood are associated with higher rate of all types of fractures. This is why sun exposure is especially important for bone health in older adults.
- Sun exposure improves brain function. Studies have found sunlight could help spur nerve cell growth in the hippocampus, which is the part of the brain responsible for forming, organizing and storing of memories.
- Sun exposure eases mild depression. Moderate sun exposure, increases levels of natural antidepressants in the brain that can help relieve seasonal affective disorder (SAD) and other forms of mild depression. That’s because on sunny days the brain produces more serotonin, a mood-lifting chemical, than on darker days.
- The sun's light kills bad bacteria. The German solders after WWI knew of the discoveries that had been made in 1903 by the Nobel Prize winner, Niels Finsen. They used sunlight to disinfect and heal wounds.
- Sunlight has a beneficial effect on skin disorders, such as psoriasis, acne, eczema and fungal infections of the skin.
- Sunlight lowers cholesterol. The sun converts high cholesterol in the blood into steroid hormones and the sex hormones we need for reproduction. In the absence of sunlight, the opposite happens; substances convert to cholesterol.
- The sun's rays lower blood pressure. In a landmark study, a group of researchers at the University of Edinburgh found that a compound called nitric oxide that helps lower blood pressure is released into the blood vessels as soon as sunlight touches the skin.
- Sunlight penetrates deep into the skin to cleanse the blood and blood vessels.
- Sunlight increases oxygen content in human blood. And, it also enhances the body's capacity to deliver oxygen to the tissues; very similar to the effects of exercise. The sun has a great effect on stamina, fitness and muscular development.
- Sunlight builds the immune system. The white blood cells, which increase with sun exposure, are called lymphocytes, and these play a major role in defending the body against infections.
- Regular sunlight exposure increases the growth and height of children, especially babies. Many cultures throughout history have recognized this fact. Studies have shown the amount of sun exposure in the first few months has an effect on how tall the person grows.
10. Optimizing Sun Exposure
Use the sun therapeutically means getting the proper exposure to optimize your vitamin D levels. This typically means exposing enough of your unclothed skin surface to get a slight pink colour on your skin. Your exact time will vary radically depending on many variables; such as you skin colour, time of day, season, clouds, altitude and age.
The key principle is to never get burned, while still spending as much time as you can in the sun during the peak hours, as long as you don't get burned.
The best time to be in the sun for vitamin D production is actually as near to solar noon as possible which is 1 PM in the summer for most (due to Daylight Saving Time). The more damaging UVA rays are quite constant during ALL hours of daylight throughout the entire year -- unlike UVB, which are low in morning and evening and high at midday.
Most people with fair skin will max out their vitamin D production in just 10-20 minutes, or, again, when your skin starts turning the lightest shade of pink. Some will need less, others more. The darker your skin, the longer exposure you will need to optimize your vitamin D production.
11. Homemade Healthy Sunscreen
If you are going to have long exposure wear layers or use a natural sunscreen with no man-made ingredients. This one only takes 10 minutes – or you can buy the one I make.
Homemade Sunscreen (blocks out both UVA and UVB)
- ½ cup olive oil
- ¼ cup coconut oil
- 2 Tablespoons Zinc Oxide (This is a non-nano version that won’t be absorbed into the skin. Be careful not to inhale the powder).
- Optional: 2 tablespoons Shea Butter - I use this unrefined organic one
- Optional: Essential Oils, Ylang Ylang mixed with helichrysum or chamolile or other natural extracts to suit your preference.
Homemade Sunscreen Instructions:
- Melt the olive oil and the shea butter over medium heat.
- Remove from heat as soon as it’s melted.
- Add the zinc oxide, stir in well and pour into whatever jar or tin you will use for storage. Small mason jars (pint size) are great for this. It will not pump well in a lotion pump!
- Stir a few times as it cools to make sure zinc oxide is incorporated.
Use as you would regular sunscreen. Always shake well before use. Best if used within six months.
- This sunscreen is somewhat, but not completely, waterproof and will need to be reapplied after sweating or swimming
- This recipe has an SPF of about 15, though adding more Zinc Oxide will increase the SPF
- I recommend coconut or vanilla extract or lavender essential oils for fragrance
- Store in a cool, dry place or in the fridge
- I prefer to store in a small canning jar and apply like body butter.
- Remove the Zinc Oxide and this makes an excellent lotion recipe and still has some protection
All information in this blog is strictly for informational purposes only and should not be taken as medical advice. The statements made in this blog have not been evaluated by The Danish Health Authority. The products linked to in this book and any information published on this blog are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease. The information provided by this blog is not a substitute for a faceto-face consultation with your physician, and should not be construed as medical advice. The entire contents of this blog are based upon the opinions of Hanne Robinson. By reading and using this blog, you agree to only use this publication for personal informational use and not as a substitute for medical or other professional advice.