The following article on the benefits of sunlight is a chapter from the newest book I’m working on tentatively called “Powered by Nature”. In this book will be all the ways and methods in which nature is good for our health, happiness and even peak performance. It covers why it is in our best self-interest to be in ecological harmony with nature. I share this chapter to give you a sneak peak. (The book should be finished and released at some point this year.)
Note that this is pretty long. You might want to bookmark this page, or otherwise save the link, to come back to it when you have time to properly digest it. It is not a quick read but instead in-depth. Also it has nothing to do about herbs, but instead about something you can freely do to support your health. Enjoy!
As we now go from principles into actionable steps to bring nature into your life for greater health and performance, we start with the sun for good reason. Nowhere else is it more apparent how far removed we’ve gotten from something natural, even distorting the idea into something evil, working hard to do unnatural things in order to avoid it.
As a reflex to this, in recent years we’ve come to realize the sun does bring some benefits, but we’ve pigeon-holed that into one thing, vitamin D, which we instead take with pills, thinking that the sun causes cancer.
There is a lot to unpack here.
Probably everyone reading this does not remember a time when electricity didn’t exist. I sure don’t. I was born and raised in a time when we had access to light anywhere and anytime we wanted. But this is far from being the case historically. Even now, our lives are ruled by daytime and nighttime, but it use to be much more so.
Sure, we’ve had fire for as long as we’ve been human, and even further back than that. But as you’ll see in another section, there are differences in the natural effects of fire versus something like incandescent or LED light.
Still much of our day is ruled by the sun. The average person gets up sometime around sunrise, and goes to bed sometime after nightfall. This is a daily cycle which governs the circadian rhythm of the human body. This powerful cycle is at play in many things when it comes to health, including learning, mood, sleep and much more.1
And your health suffers if you don’t follow the natural rhythm. There are lots of studies showing the detrimental effects for people that stay up late, for instance, night shift workers. This is linked to lower quality sleep, increased diabetes risk, weight gain, breast cancer, heart attack risk, depression, and more.2
As a side note, my mother who died of breast cancer, worked the night shift for many years as a nurse. I can remember the first time seeing a report of that link, and wondering if anyone so employed was told of such?
We’re taught to fear the sun but cast your mind back in time for a moment. Ancients, all around the world, use to praise the sun as one of many gods, and sometimes goddesses too. I think this is important, even logical that this occurred. From Ra to Apollo, Sol to Tonatiuh, it was common to see this life and light giver as something holy and transcendent.
With our science, we know the sun is almost 93 million miles away, made up of 72 percent hydrogen, and is about 27 million degrees Fahrenheit at the core. But does any of that help you in your daily life at all?
What if instead you worshipped the sun? I’m not saying bowing down and praying to it, or thinking of it as some magical being that will grant you miracles or smite you based on its whims. Instead simply by spending time with it, developing a friendly relationship, and realizing it is the ultimate life-giver.
It is interesting to note that in many stories when people were before god they would bow their heads, and couldn’t look directly at god’s brilliance. Just try looking at sun during high noon, and you may find where this idea first came from.
Almost no life would exist without our sun. That’s worthy of some devotion if you ask me. (The exceptions being in the deep ocean which is teeming with life that needs no photosynthesis, instead relying on chemosynthesis, but these are exceptions to the otherwise pervasive rule.)
The ancients’ days were ruled by the sun. What you did during the day and during the night were very different by necessity. And based on the amount of sunlight, depending on where you lived, we see one of the most self-evident adaptions in humankind, the color of the skin.
We know that plant life requires the sun. They produce energy based on photosynthesis. Chlorophyll, which is why plants are green, uses the sun’s energy to turn carbon dioxide into sugar. The light from the sun is required in order for this transformation to happen.
Human’s do their own kind of photosynthesis. It’s not the same, and it doesn’t necessarily produce energy or ATP directly, but sunlight does produce certain chemicals in the human body. These do not occur the same without unfiltered sunlight.
And recent research found that true mammalian photosynthesis might occur in mammals with a chlorophyll rich diet. By eating plants, the chlorophyll can modulate mitochondrial ATP.3
Several insects have co-opted the DNA of plants, the use of chlorophyll, to do this. Since we see that sunlight doesn’t just hit the skin but penetrates into the blood and cells, perhaps we just haven’t found everything it produces or changes.
Table of Contents
The Dangerous Sun
Despite its life giving properties, in recent years, we’ve come to see the sun as the enemy. We have blamed the sun for cancer and aging. Certainly, it plays some role in those, but how much is the sun to blame?
Were humans suffering from skin cancer to the tune of one out of every five people, hundreds or thousands of years ago? That’s the current rate of skin cancer in the USA.
No, they were not, as cancer of any type was very uncommon, though not unknown. And remember this was before electricity. This was before people spent all day working indoors.
This meant that people spent more time in the sun, not less. But if skin cancer is going up, and time in the sun is going down, how did the blame get put on the sun? It doesn’t make logical sense.
The standard research links UV light exposure, which includes light from the sun, to increased risk of cancer.4 More specifically, UVA can penetrate the skin, contributing to skin cancer via the generation of free radicals which damage DNA. UVB causes sunburns when too much occurs, and can also damage DNA. All UV exposure is linked to photo-aging of the skin by damaging collagen and destroying vitamin A.
You’ve heard all these things before, right? Perhaps not the details, but as I said this is the standard knowledge that gets passed onto people, albeit in a more simplified form of “sun = dangerous.”
Here’s what you may not know. While higher exposure to sunlight may mean more skin cancer, having higher vitamin D levels makes those cancers, and all cancer, less deadly.5
A 20-year study following 29518 Swedish women found that those avoiding the sun were more likely to die from all causes by a significant factor. The researchers noted,
“Nonsmokers who avoided sun exposure had a life expectancy similar to smokers in the highest sun exposure group, indicating that avoidance of sun exposure is a risk factor for death of a similar magnitude as smoking.”6
Let me reiterate that. Avoiding the sun is as bad as regularly smoking.
Further, they found that those that got sunburned more often died less. That makes you think, doesn’t it?
Besides rickets, a specific deficiency in vitamin D, we seem to have forgotten the importance of sunlight. But even in America, a hundred years ago, sun bathing was also used to successfully treat things like tuberculosis, and various skin disorders.
Perhaps skin cancer and aging is not the sun’s fault, but something else. Perhaps the sun is just correlated with cancer, and doesn’t cause it, at least by itself.
You know what else has risen in usage right along with cancer rates? Sunscreen use. The very thing they tell you to put on your skin to protect from the sun. What is sunscreen made of? It’s a very good question, the answer you probably don’t know, because it uses all kinds of chemicals the average person can’t pronounce derived mostly from petroleum and who knows what else.
That chemical glop isn’t just waiting on the skin, but getting absorbed into your body. Would you eat your sunscreen? If not, then you really shouldn’t be putting it on your skin either. In either case, it’s getting into your body.
Ever since sunscreen use has been widely adopted, and people have been cautioned to avoid the sun, you would think that skin cancer rates would go down. That would make logical sense if the sun was bad and sunscreen was good. But that’s not what we see. Skin cancer rates keep going up.
And it’s not because people haven’t been following the advice. Whenever I go out with a group of people in the sun I always see them slathering on the sunscreen even before they get outside. Overall, people have heard this message loud and clear and they comply.
People are now cautioned to put sunscreen on every day. Even if they’re scarcely in the sun at all. It’s recommended as part of the daily skincare routine. This is despite the fact that the majority of sunscreens, including many so-called “all-natural” ones are filled with endocrine disrupting chemicals. And with your hormone levels altered you’re much more likely to get something like breast or prostate cancer. Both of these have heavily risen over the years.
If it is not the sun what is it? Plenty of other things have also risen in the same time frame, including rancid oils and sugar used dietarily. Perhaps the sun isn’t so much the problem, it’s that combined with our lack of nutrition that our body can’t handle the same exposure we once had.
Early on when I was studying nutrition I heard stories that people who ate exclusively raw food couldn’t get sunburned. This sounded like a super power to me. What was causing it? By having many more antioxidants and phyto-chemicals as well as avoiding the rancid, cooked oils, they’re bodies were better able to handle the stresses of sun exposure.
The fact is you don’t need to be a raw foodist to get these benefits either if you still follow along in the same trends. Chances are the microbiome of the skin is equally important too. Research has only begun to look at the effects of UV light on the bacteria, fungi, viruses and more that live on our skin. As these all play a role in our immune system, your skin’s microbiome and sun exposure is likely to have far more research in the future.7
In my mind this whole sunscreen thing is propaganda, further fueled by those that sell sunscreen. Sure, people that recommend it may be well-meaning, but that doesn’t make it right.
The sun is a stressor. As such it can be too much and too intense. But this is combated easily, not by using sunscreen, but by going in the shade or wearing clothing. Common knowledge that is not so common anymore.
Yet, as a stressor, it also can be a good thing, done in the right dose. Plus, we don’t need to wait generations for adaptation. The skin tans with sun exposure, thus protecting you the more you get.
The fact is that getting sunburned only occurs in people that avoid the sun, those that live in industrial societies. Otherwise, people get tanned which modulates itself over the seasons with the sun’s exposure. This naturally occurs if you aren’t unnaturally hiding out from the sun all the time. Personally, I would rather get burned to a slight degree than put my body through the shock of sunscreen.
The simple fact is that avoiding the sun is worse than getting the sun. Yes, like anything, sun exposure can be overdone, but that happens less and less these days. And those things that are meant to protect you actually stop the benefits and come with side effects. So, let’s dig deeper into the benefits from sunlight.
First, let’s start with vitamin D. Vitamin D has come hot on the scene in the past decade or so as many people’s number one supplement. For a long time, it was known only for assisting with calcium absorption and thus bone health.8
But now D has been shown to do so many things. It is a major player in the endocrine and immune systems. Normal and optimal levels of vitamin D reduce the risk of acute respiratory tract infections, heart attack, cancer, autoimmunity, diabetes, infections, depression and more.9
The fact is that vitamin D is not so much a vitamin as it is a prohormone. Actually, the best description of it may be as a neuroregulatory steroidal hormone that influences almost 3000 genes. In short, vitamin D basically affects everything either directly or indirectly.
Hormones work as chemical messengers. They send and receive messages. The signal of sunlight sends messages to many different parts of your body. Specifically, the UVB spectrum triggers vitamin D to form in the skin, but as we’ll see sunlight signals other chemicals too. Overall, that message is healthy functioning. That’s how important vitamin D is, and hence how important sunlight is.
But since people fear the sun, and these days simply don’t have time to spend in the sun, we take vitamin D pills instead.
I do recommend this for the average person because having normal to optimal vitamin D levels is critical for your health. It is estimated that 70%+ of Americans are deficient. If you can’t get the sun, or enough of it, then supplement for sure.
But remember that it is a supplement, and as I’ll show you sunlight does not equal vitamin D. There is much more at play. For these reasons, I feel supplemental vitamin D is only a fall-back position and, while useful, scarcely holds a candle to getting the real thing via sunlight.
Vitamin D doesn’t just come in one form. One of the distinctions is between D2 and D3, known as cholecalciferol.
Most D2 is synthetically made by irradiating fungus and plant matter. This is the kind that is prescribed by doctors and given by injection, under the drug names of Viosterol or Drisdol. But a meta-analysis that looked at 94000 people and the differences between D2 given this way, and those taking D3. Those taking D3 saw a drop in mortality, death from all causes, of 6%. Those taking D2, saw a slight increase in mortality.10
If we looked at this naturally, it makes sense. We’re meant to get D3, primarily from the sun, as that is the form created. We’re not meant to get huge injections of D2. The body must do a lot of work in order to transform D2 into the active form of D3. But the fact is that D3 from sunlight is still not the same as D3 from a pill.
All supplemental forms, and what you get dietarily, is fat soluble vitamin D. But when vitamin D forms on the skin, it is water soluble. The version that forms on the skin is vitamin D3 sulfate, which can freely travel in your blood. Interestingly enough, it is also the form found inside human breast milk.
The unsulfated form, which is what is found in supplements, must bind to LDL in order to transport it around the blood. This kind also carries calcium around, which the water-soluble form does not.
Research that looks only at D3 levels with no difference in how it is obtained can’t be truly accurate for this reason, because the sun provides much more than just vitamin D. There is only minimal research that has been conducted on these differences so far, which could be vastly important. Hopefully, we see more in the near future.
In the liver, vitamin D3 is transformed by hydroxylation into the form of 25(OH)D3. This is the kind that is tested in your standard blood test as it’s easy to measure compared to the active form.
From the liver, it goes to the kidneys, and other areas including the breast, prostate, lung, skin, colon, pancreas and brain, where it is made into the active form of 1,25-hydroxyvitamin D3, also known as calcitriol. This is the form that truly acts as a hormone in the human body, and is structurally very similar.
Almost every cell in the body has been found to have vitamin D receptors (VDR), which are involved in transcription of genes. More VDR binding sites occur in genes associated with cancer and autoimmune diseases.11
While the sun is the primary source, vitamin D can be gotten dietarily too, not just in pills, in ‘fortified grains’ or milk. It is naturally found in many fat rich sources in nature, including fatty fish, liver and egg yolks. Weston A. Price found that all diets of the natural humans he looked at received vitamin D from their diets as well.
Some mushrooms are similar to humans in that they too produce vitamin D when exposed to sunlight, which transforms the ergosterol into the D2 form. This may be useful but in short, I wouldn’t rely on mushrooms in order to meet your vitamin D requirements. Instead use mushrooms for the many other benefits they can bring.
Overall, food and supplements aren’t the mainstay for vitamin D. The sun is. Getting extra D via your diet should be seen as a bonus, or something to aim for more in winter months, but not as the main method.
Other Molecular Benefits of the Sun
We know that sunlight signals lots of things in the body including genes which interface with your hormonal and immune systems. But it’s not just vitamin D that does it. Here are some other byproducts of human photosynthesis.
Cholesterol sulfate – The molecules of vitamin D and cholesterol are very close in structure. One of the issues around high levels of LDL and atherosclerosis may be because of an insufficiency of cholesterol sulfate which is produced on the skin in sunlight. Stephanie Seneff thinks that most of the benefits from sun exposure come not from vitamin D, but from this molecule.12 What if that is the case? You’re certainly not getting this from your vitamin D pill.
Proopiomelanocortin – This molecule is generated from UV exposure.13 It is a big molecule that may then be altered to create the following three molecules:
- Beta endorphins – Got pain? UV exposure has been shown to increase beta endorphins, our endogenous opiate that increases pain tolerance and helps us relax. The melanocytes in skin contain an endorphin receptor system.13
- Alpha melanocyte-stimulating hormone – This hormone which limits oxidative DNA damage, increases gene repair, and supports the immune system, in addition to starting the tanning process, producing melanin. This hormone specifically reduces melanoma risk.14
- Adrenocorticotropic hormone – Helps control cortisol release by the adrenals, as well as triggering melanocytes to produce melanin.13
Melanin – Melanin is created in order to suppress the UV skin damage. The body has in-built mechanisms to protect it when you have too much exposure. Sunburns only really occur to people in industrial civilizations because the body tans in response to sun exposure along with the season due to melanin. This is how our body responds so that DNA damage doesn’t occur.15
Substance P – This neuropeptide regulates the immune system and promotes blood flow.16
Calcitonin gene-related peptide – CGRP is a neuropeptide that modulates cytokines and is one of the methods by which sunlight can treat skin disorders. This may be the action through which sunlight helps treat psoriasis.17
Nitric oxide – This important cellular signaling molecule dilates blood vessels, reducing blood pressure. Many performance related supplements for the gym and for the bedroom promise to increase nitric oxide, which is important to those functions. But sunlight, specifically UVA, has been shown to mobilize NO in the body, both in the keratinocytes in the skin and in the red blood cells, and thus sunlight is a performance booster.18
Sunlight also helps to regulate the immune system through the action of T regulatory cells, specifically in cases of autoimmunity.19 Vitamin D also induces cathelicidin, a polypeptide that fights both bacterial and viral infections.20
You can see that several of these interact with the immune system. Years ago sunbathing was recommended as one of the best curative treatments for many types of diseases, like tuberculosis.4 And there was lots of success in doing this.
And on and on it could go. These many molecules in turn interact with many others, producing far reaching effects in the body, that we have only scratched the surface on what they do. Remember that it was only a couple of decades ago when we thought that vitamin D was responsible for bone health and not much else. What else will be revealed by future research?
None of these are formed from your vitamin D pill. Hence, the name “sunshine in a pill” is not quite accurate.
We haven’t even looked at how sunlight, and the absence of light, effects serotonin and melatonin. This affects our daily rhythms, mood and much more. That will be covered in the next chapter.
Full Light Spectrum
UVA which is touted for all of its negative effects in cancer and photoaging is the wavelength responsible for releasing nitric oxide. UVB is often considered the more beneficial of the wavelengths, probably because it is the one that causes vitamin D production. However, as we saw with some of the other components, both A and B and important for different things. So there are a few things we should learn about these, and the other wavelengths.
The fact is that sunlight is composed of somewhere around 1500 wavelengths. The ozone removes anything with a wavelength shorter than 290 nanometers. The ultraviolet exists in the 290 to 380 nm range. The visible spectrum in the 380 to 770 nm range. Infrared is in the 770 to 2000 range. For the most part this is a continuous spectrum of light, besides a few wavelengths being absorbed by particles in the atmosphere.
There are several things that block the UVB, the vitamin D producing wavelength. Being indoors on a sunny day is not helpful unless the doors and windows are open. Glass blocks UVB, while still allowing the UVA in.
Clouds also block UVB. Even the angle of the sun matters. UVB rays only comes through the Earth’s atmosphere when the sun is above 50-degrees on the horizon. Many people are told to avoid the sun when it’s at its peak, but here we find that gets rid of this necessary exposure. Lower than this angle and the ozone layer reflects the UVB while still allowing the UVA in.
Unfortunately, this means that in many parts of the world, the sun does not allow you to get UVB light, during certain parts of the year, as the sun is always lower on the horizon. This shows the importance of getting the sunlight when its available, even if this is only in short windows throughout the year.
Sunscreens are designed to block UV, including both UVA and UVB. An SPF 15 sunscreen causes a 99% reduction in D3 synthesis on the skin.21 It likely stops the production of all these other chemicals too. By blocking the light, your body isn’t able to absorb and utilize it for the many functions it has.
We think of the sun as just hitting the skin. We don’t often realize that it penetrates the layers of the skin. In fact, it’s been shown that visible light penetrates all tissues to a certain depth. Light has been detected inside a living sheep’s brain.
Yet the focus is all on the UVB because it produces vitamin D. Perhaps the visible light spectrum from the sun is equally important? This is hard to measure outside of lights effects on the eyes. Of course, we do get the visible spectrum from other light sources too. Sunlight is part of an entraining rhythm. This means that several body functions are governed by its cycle. We see that with serotonin. This will be explored even further in the next chapter.
And that’s not all. Think about lying under the sun on a hot day. Is it only the surface of your body that feels warmth, or does it penetrate into your core? That’s largely the infrared heat.
Over fifty percent of the energy that reaches the sun at its peak on the earth, is in the near infrared spectrum. One of the best devices for supporting your health, that are becoming very popular today, are infrared saunas. I personally have one and use it regularly. These provide many benefits, and research is looking at their benefits to blood pressure, pain, detoxification, skin health, relaxation, weight loss and more.22
If the benefits are coming from the infrared heat, it’s important to realize that the sun provides this same energy too, just generally not at the same temperature. This seems to be completely unresearched as far as the sun’s benefits. We can get heat from other sources, but that means you can also get these benefits sitting outside on a hot day, soaking up the rays. The sun also has the full spectrum of infrared rays, far, middle and near.
These photoproducts of sunlight cause photochemical reactions throughout the body. This effects more than the skin. It effects the blood, the intracellular fluid and the cells themselves. Because nothing in the human body works in isolation, sunlight exposure or lack of exposure effects either directly or indirectly every organ and system in the body. Contemplate that for a moment.
A paper titled The Effects of Light on the Human Body by Richard J. Wurtmann brings up many important points including the following: “The observation that ordinary sunlight or artificial light sources can drastically alter the plasma level of even one body compound (in this case bilirubin) opens a Pandora’s box for the student of human biology. It presents the strong possibility that the plasma or tissue levels of many additional compounds are similarly affected by light.”23
To sum up, it is important that you get sun exposure. Chances are you won’t get an excess amount of vitamin D, nor any of the other chemicals by doing so. Instead you’ll get the amounts you need. This supports vitamin D, nitric oxide, melanin, several hormones, many immune functions and more.
And it is best down through full spectrum, natural sunlight. There may be some ways to mimic some of the things, but isn’t getting some sun easier to do?
How Much Sunlight Do You Need?
There are two very important factors to how much sun you need. The first of which is your skin color. The second of which is where you live.
People with lighter skin color are adapted to places where there is less sun available. Whites, descending from Europe, are used to places where clouds predominately cover the sky, a big portion of the year. The sun may come out just a few days of the year. As we saw, the sun also may not be high enough in the sky to provide it’s full UVB benefits. Thus, their skin is lighter so that they can more easily absorb its rays. And in these cases, things like dietary vitamin D certainly become more important, as they have been historically too in those regions.
Contrast this to blacks, descended from Africa, where the sun is shining most of the time. The skin is darker to protect from too much exposure. They’re adapted to this environment, and thus need to be exposed to the sun a lot more to get the same benefits. For those with the darkest skin color, being in the sun almost all the time may be necessary to maximize benefits.
A pale white person spending thirty minutes in the summer sun can generate 50000 IU’s of vitamin D which are released into circulation within the next 24 hours. A dark skinned person will generate about 10000 IU’s in the same sun. And a tanned skin individual gets somewhere in the middle with about 20000-30000 IU’s.
Remember that this vitamin D is water soluble. That means it can be washed off if you use soap on your skin within that 24-hour period. It is not immediately all absorbed.24
But vitamin D is stored in the body in fat soluble form. Thus, if you can soak up as much as you need in the summer months, it can help keep you optimal in the winter months.
Not surprisingly research points that non-whites tend to have lower vitamin D levels than whites, and this is true even at their ancestral latitudes.25
So how much do you need? There is debate as to the most optimal amount of vitamin D. It is measured in the blood as 25(OH)D. The Vitamin D Council recommends a range of 40 to 80 ng/mL. The U.S. laboratory reference range tends to be a little lower at 30 to 74 ng/mL. More recently in 2011, after reviewing over 1000 studies, the Institute of Medicine recommended a slightly lower range of 20 to 50 ng/mL.
As you can see these ranges are all over the place. Which one is right? Unfortunately, it comes down to that fact that many factors are at play here. Skin color, environment where you live, whether you’re getting vitamin D from sunlight, diet or supplementation, and probably a few more things all affect your levels.
Looking back to indigenous people, the Masai and Hadzabe tribes of Africa were found to have blood levels of 44-48 ng/mL 25(OH)D.26 This gives a good clue about what to aim for, and this is through being outdoors, not from supplementation.
Besides race there are many other factors. One study looking at Hawaiian surfers who spent fifteen or more hours outdoors each week over a three month period of time, saw levels from 11 to 71 ng/mL.27
Don’t forget that this is just vitamin D. As far as I know no blood test is looking at the levels of all those other compounds.
In our global community where we’re no longer connected to where we came from it may be difficult to get the right amount for our body. A black person living in Seattle may not be physically able to derive the maximum benefits from the sun. They should still seek it out when it’s out and shining, but in cases like this supplementation goes from optional to necessary.
So how much sun should you get? The skin responds. Generally, for people of lighter skin once it starts to turn slightly pink, that’s an indication you’ve got enough for the day. If you’re getting too much sun exposure find shade or where layers of clothing. Certain topical oils like coconut can also provide some protection. It can’t be SPF rated, because that term is only allowed for sunscreens, but coconut oil would have an equivalent of roughly 4-7 SPF.
There’s another piece of the ‘where’ puzzle I’d like to address. Not where you’re at and the amount of sun that is available. But where you expose your body to the sun, and by that, I mean what parts.
To maximize the benefits, it is ideal to get sun where the sun don’t shine, i.e. the private areas. Think about when was the last time that your genitals even saw sunlight?
For many people, it’s not since they were a baby, with the parents allowing them to run around naked outside. But if we think of sunlight primarily as a hormonal signaling system, and knowing the vitamin D is a hormone, not a vitamin, it makes sense for this to occur on the endocrine system of the body. For men, this involves the balls. For women, getting sunlight on the breasts is going to be important. Just think of the hormonal and immune system benefits sunlight provides, meanwhile breast cancer is one of the biggest killers in industrialized areas.
Although this study hasn’t been replicated and it’s from a while back I thought the idea was fascinating. Measurements of testosterone increases were greater in men who got sun exposure to the genitals compared to those who only received sun exposure on the back and chest.28
Perhaps it was just from having more surface area exposed. But I think the testicles crave the sun. Forgive me if you feel this is slightly graphic. After learning about this research, I had to try it for myself. What I found actually spooked me out at first. The testicles seemed to move of their own accord. And I wasn’t the only one either.
Several other people have reported the same thing, and if you’re a man I suggest you get outside and give it a try yourself. (I hope it goes with saying that naked sunbathing should be done in a private place, or a place where society deems it appropriate, to avoid being locked up as a sex offender.)
Not only does sun exposure matter but so does how you do it. More research is likely to prove this out.
Making Your Sun Exposure Routine
I pride myself on being healthy. After all, I make it my business to be so. And nothing is worse than a hypocrite. Yet, one day I found myself sitting outside and I was looking at my skin. It was so pale that I could see many of the veins beneath the skin.
It looked sickly. Like it was the skin of a diseased person. Think about what we often see when someone is sick. Pale skin. Now think of someone who is the epitome of health. Chances are they look like they have some sun exposure. A nice, healthy tan.
Bodybuilders use tanning machines, or spray tans, before they take the stage. Why? Because it makes the muscles look better. You’ll never see a pale bodybuilder ever win. It just doesn’t look as good. This isn’t to say that bodybuilders are healthy, most of them are far from it, but just to prove this point.
All you have to do is observe and you’ll see the truth to some sun exposure being healthy. I know the China white doll skin is fashionable, but fads like those come and go. And I would not look at the fashion industry to tell us what is healthy or not.
After I was struck by this realization, I made my number one health goal for the year to get tan. Yes, I actually had it as a goal, which I wrote down. I made it a priority. I found it necessary to do this in order to get it done. And thus, at the age of 31 I got a tan for the first time in my life.
At the place that I currently live I have a little yard area. Depending on the season, the sun only shines here for a few hours of each day in winter, and quite a few more hours in summer. The sun gets blocked off by trees earlier in the day, and the house itself later on. So, this was my window of opportunity. Of course, I could go elsewhere to get sun, and sometimes I did. But at home, since I work from there, and this typically happened best around noon to early afternoon, it would have to be my first and foremost option.
Previously I always worked through this time. I’d take a break sometime around noon in order to do my movement practice, and I’d get some sun then, but I needed to do more to achieve my goal. This meant laying out there. I even ordered a special chair to sunbath on. I had to cease working and use this as a break. Nowadays, I eat lunch while sitting outside, and often spending some time reading as well.
In addition to the sun, I want to point out that I’m getting grounded, fresh air, some of the other benefits of nature, all the while relaxing. We’ll be covering all these in more detail later, but it’s important to note that getting sun while electrically grounded may be important as something that helps to protect the body.
This has become a part of my day now. Of course, it is dependent on the weather. And, as it happens, right when I started to get into a good flow with it in my routine, Daylight Savings Time occurred, and the weather shifted to more clouds and rain. This required adjustments, but I was able to make these and continue when the sun was available.
I stopped taking vitamin D supplements as I started getting real sun. And my recent blood test came in at 37ng/mL. I’d like to see it a bit higher than this personally, so I know I need to get a bit more sun in the future.
One thing I like to think about is the Solar Rechargeable Battery Metaphor. You know the battery indicator on your phone? Think of having this for yourself and for the sun. In a sense, the sun truly is recharging your battery of vitamin D and other components. The question is, are you fully charged?
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- Kecklund, G., & Axelsson, J. (2016). Health consequences of shift work and insufficient sleep. British Medical Journal.
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