If you happen to live in the Northeast, you probably have felt as though you have been mysteriously transplanted to the Northwest. With a good portion of the Northeast plagued by rain for what seems like a small eternity, it is no wonder. This last Saturday, however, we managed to get a day’s reprieve with the sun poking its head through the clouds for several hours. It felt like a small gift from heaven.
Sunny days really do have a tremendous impact on us. We perk up. We feel better. We feel more motivated to be out and about. It feels SO much better to basque in the sun than to hide out from the rain. Granted, too much sun exposure can potentially be harmful in regards to aging and skin cancer, but exposure to the sun also provides enormous health benefits:
- Vitamin D: Vitamin D is the only vitamin that can be synthesized in the skin through a photosynthetic reaction triggered by exposure to UVB radiation. Vitamin D, specifically, is important for immune response, mood stability, and bone health. Vitamin D deficiencies have been directly linked to seasonal affective disorder (SAD), osteomalacia (a softening of the bones because of defective bone mineralization), and, increased premature cancer mortality.
- Happy hormones Exposure to sunlight enhances our overall mental outlook and sense of wellbeing. The skin’s exposure to sunshine releases endorphins. Endorphins are our body’s natural anti-depressants, and as a result, a lack of sunshine can cause decreased endorphin production, resulting in depression disorders.
- Circulation and Heart Health: Sunshine helps to increase circulation by dilating the blood vessels in the skin and enhances heart health by decreasing blood pressure, while increasing cardiac output. This facilitates the transportation of nutrients and oxygen to our cells.
- Natural Detox: Sunshine exposure helps to increase liver function, which is responsible for filtering and removing wastes from the body. Further, as a result of increased circulation from the sun, we are able to more efficiently eliminate the waste through our blood.
- Skin Health: Although too much exposure can increase risk of skin cancer, exposure to the sun can increase the healing of skin diseases and conditions such as eczema, skin ulcers, skin fungal infections, and acne.
- Immune System: Sunshine increases production of both red and white blood cells, strengthening the immune system.
- Boosted Metabolism: Sunshine can help with weight loss. This is due to the fact that it helps to boost metabolism and maintain blood sugar levels.
- Natural Disinfectant and Antibiotic: Sunshine kills harmful viruses and bacteria, making it a natural antibiotic and disinfectant. Many disease microbes are killed by sunshine. /p>
- Cancer Prevention: Yep, you heard me right. Turns out, that sunshine can actually help prevent some cancers (breast, ovarian and colo-rectal). This is a direct result of the synthesis of Vitamin D, which is important in warding off these types of cancers.
- Improved Sleep Patterns: Melatonin production is enhanced by sun exposure. Melatonin is a hormone produced by the pineal gland, that encourages sleep.
So how much exposure gives you these benefits? Depending on your skin type, you probably need 5 to 30 minutes of sun exposure to the face, arms, back or legs (without sunscreen) twice every week. Since exposure to sunlight is a risk for skin cancer, you should use sunscreen after a few minutes in the sun and even in the winter and on hazy, cloudy days.
So, as you can see, if you have been missing and yearning for the sun recently, there is good reason. Where do you live? Do you get a lot of sunshine exposure? Have you witnessed these benefits?
- Sheer Balance Guide to Skin
- Sheer Balance Detox Guide
- Sheer Balance Sleep Guide
- 10 Ways to Not Look Old