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Seeing The Light: The Healing Effects Of Sunlight

Our bodies are designed to not only withstand sunlight, but in fact, thrive from it. 

Much has been made, however, in recent years of the many dangers of the sun and most people now associate it primarily with cancer, wrinkles and aging.  

Simultaneously, due to modern lifestyle, we now spend the majority of our time indoors and out of the sun, consume increasing amounts of inflammatory substances and are exposed to thousands of damaging chemicals and inflammatory toxins on a daily basis.

Ironically, though, it is actually our lack of exposure to the sun, coupled with systemic inflammation from food, beverages, chemicals and toxins, as well as living in mostly chronically stressed states that increase the likelihood of sun damage and sunburn. 

Making a point to expose our full body to the sun as often as possible––while making sure to protect the delicate skin cells of the face with something like a hat, a towel or non-toxic sunscreen––allows our skin to create more melanin, which is the body’s natural way of protecting us from sun damage. 

Moreover, it is essential to create an internal environment within the body that is less prone to oxidative stress and inflammation. This is accomplished primarily through favorable changes to diet and lifestyle, but also by supplementing with vitamins, minerals and antioxidants that can combat free radicals and make the skin organ more resilient to prolonged sun exposure.

This includes focusing on well-sourced, nutrient-dense foods, including meat, fish, vegetables, fruits, nuts and seeds, while removing inflammatory substances, like alcohol, sugar, vegetable oils, gluten, grains, conventional dairy, processed/packaged foods and food chemicals. 

Beyond diet, one of the best supplements to include is astaxanthin, which is an antioxidant specific to the skin that acts like an internal sunscreen. Astaxanthin helps support the prevention of free radicals caused by UV damage and increases the skin's ability to absorb and utilize sunlight in a healthy way, which often results in a better tan as a nice bonus.

Other anti-inflammatory compounds to consider supplementing with include glutathione, resveratrol, alpha-lipoic acid, NAC, cod liver oil, and vitamins A, E, C and D.

The best place for our body to acquire vitamin D, however, is from the sun itself. Sunscreen, clothing, and being indoors inhibits our body’s ability to synthesize adequate amounts of vitamin D from light, which is why 42% of Americans are now vitamin D deficient.   

Vitamin D is hugely beneficial to our health in supporting the immune system, cardiometabolic health, bone health, regulating mood, preventing sickness and disease and so much more. Perhaps most notably, Vitamin D is also protective against all of the most lethal systemic cancers—including the deadliest form of skin cancer, melanoma.

Of course, we must take caution not to burn in the sun, as burning is never healthy or intended. Slowly building a base of melanin in the skin is the best way to start adapting the body to regular sunlight. 

Expose your body (not the face) to the sun by starting with just five minutes a day and increase slowly over time in five minute increments, always making sure to get out of the sun long before your skin could start to burn.

After a few weeks or a month or two of this slow build, you may find yourself able to stay in the sun as long as you like without sunscreen or sunburn.

Cleaning up one’s internal environment is really the essential piece to accomplishing this, though, so don’t expect to just skip over the anti-inflammatory diet, lifestyle and supplementation interventions and still anticipate success.

If someone is inflamed and unhealthy internally, they will not be able to tolerate the oxidative stress of the sun externally. It’s as simple as that.

Readapting the body to become naturally tolerant of the sun for any duration of time is a work in progress. Getting to the point where sunscreen is a thing of the past doesn’t happen overnight, but it is entirely possible for many people if the right changes are made to the body.

Humans spent the first 99% of our existence outside in the sun all day long without sunscreen, day after day, all year long. We are biologically and genetically more than capable of doing so––in fact, it’s how we are meant to live.


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