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While sturdy, thriving flowers and trees reach up to find the sun, we cower and cover every inch of our bodies because we’re afraid the sun might harm us or even cause cancer. So, is the sun bad for us or is it good for us?
The sun is definitely good for us.
We couldn’t live without it. And, what about this fear of the sun causing cancer? Well, most malignant melanomas (a type of skin cancer that does kill a lot of people) most often occur on parts of the body that are covered, protected from the sun. And, who has the lowest rate of skin cancer rates? Studies have shown that construction workers and professional shipmen who have the highest exposure to sunlight, and don’t use sunscreen, have the least skin cancer. In fact, more sun exposure reduces the overall risk of cancer. And, in another study, it was found that office workers have higher incidences of skin cancer than those who work outdoors. Why is this? Well, one of the reasons is that when the sunlight hits the skin, with the presence of cholesterol, the body produces Vitamin D. What are the other benefits of sunlight having contact with our skin?
- acts as a catalyst for the absorption and use of nutrients in our bodies
- diminishes apathy, lethargy, dispiritedness
- decreases resting heart rate
- decreases blood pressure
- decreases lactic acid in the blood following exercise (ever feel better after exercising outside rather than inside?)
- increases energy, strength and endurance
- increases tolerance of stress
- increases the ability of our blood to absorb and carry oxygen
- keeps our biological rhythm running smoothly
- balances hormones
- counters SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder)
- lessens the occurrence of dental caries (see Dr. Weston A. Price’s book available through the PPNF Store, Nutrition and Physical Degeneration.)
More is being discovered all the time about the benefits of sunlight for both our skin and our eyes. Sunlight is a naturally occurring event which should be embraced because of its invaluable influence on our health.
How do we protect ourselves from burning?
How much sun do we need?
When should we get it?
According to Price-Pottenger Nutrition Foundation Vice-President David Getoff, CCN, CTN, FAAIM, we want to get at least one-half hour or more of sun, five to six days a week…and never burn. Even the minimum recommended exposure can improve a lot of emotional conditions. He states that we should protect our skin through healthy eating and quality supplements. A diet that has an adequate amount of healthy fats (olive oil, coconut oil, palm kernel oil, and fats naturally occurring in properly raised beef, chicken, lamb and other meats), supplemented with Vitamins C and E, and Ogligomeric Proanthocyandins (OPCs) is an excellent start.
Using an OPC does not block the ability of your body to make vitamin D.
David Getoff uses OPC’s (Oligomeric Proanthocyanidin; trademark name: Pycnogenol®) for its sun protection factor. This is a supplement available in health food stores that you can take to protect yourself from burning. The dose is two mg per pound of body weight. You have to take it at least twenty minutes before you need it to give it a chance to get into your system. It gives your body a Sun Protection Factor (SPF) of about four or five. This means that if you can stay out in the sun for 30 minutes without burning, you can now stay out 120-150 minutes (30 x 4 or 5). Using an OPC does not block the ability of your body to make vitamin D. It just allows you to stay out in the sun longer without burning.
Burning is what damages the skin, whether it be from a hot frying pan or the sun. In order to prevent burns, slowly develop a tan and get out of the sun before you burn. So, if you know you burn in 30 minutes, then try going outside for fifteen minutes. Think of yourself as an egg (although you probably wouldn’t cook those quite that long)…fifteen minutes on each side. If you’ve gone out for fifteen minutes a number of different times, you develop a tan. If you’re eating enough of the right kinds of fats and supplementing with vitamins C and E, you will be to endure longer sun exposure without burning because you are being protected with antioxidants from the oxidative damaging effects of the UV light.
The optimal time of day for sun exposure is between about 11:00 a.m. and 1:00 p.m as this stimulates the highest amount of Vitamin D production. According to the Vitamin D Council (vitamindcouncil.org), shadow length is a good measure of how much vitamin D your body will be making. If your shadow is longer than you are, you’re not making any vitamin D. That means that the sun is so far back on the horizon that it is not direct enough for your body to be making vitamin D. Being out between 11:00 a.m. and 1:00 p.m. will take care of that.
For those of you who prefer to use sunscreens (AFTER you’ve gotten as much sun as you can without burning), these are recommended by David Getoff: UV Natural and Graham’s Sunclear–both from Australia and Lavera from Germany. Keep in mind that sunscreens block out the beneficial UVA and UVB rays but do not block the dangerous UVC rays.
So, improve your health and overall well-being through sunshine. Get out into the sun, soak in its rays, and allow your body to produce natural vitamin D. Eat right, time it right, and protect yourself from burning. The sun has so much good stuff to offer. Don’t miss out on it.
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- Ott, John Nash, Exploring the Spectrum: The Effects of Natural and Artificial Light on Living Organisms (DVD format), ©1975. This Compilation © 2008 by Natural Energy Work, Ashland, OR, USA.
- Liberman, Jacob, O.D. PhD, Light: Medicine of the Future. Bear and Company Publishing. Santa Fe, NM. ©1991 by Jacob Liberman, O.D., PhD.