The Health Benefits of Sunshine

Since the late 1980s, we’ve been told to avoid direct sun exposure because of the growing prevalence of skin cancer. As a result, many people cover every inch of their skin with sunscreen before going out in the sun, or even worse, go through great lengths to avoid the sun all together. Recently, however, researchers are suggesting that some healthy time in the sun will have a positive impact in maintaining a healthy body.

Sunlight plays a significant role in nourishing and energizing the human body. It is also vital in order to get the full nutritional value from food that we eat and it has been proven that getting sufficient sunlight aids in preventing chronic ailments such as seasonal affective disorder (SAD), osteoporosis, mental depression, type 2 diabetes, and cancer. To put it more plainly, sunlight serves as the perfect medicinal pill in promoting a healthy lifestyle.

One of the prime benefits of sunlight is that it supplies the body with Vitamin D, which works with calcium in our bodies to build strong bones and a healthy nervous system. The sun helps our brain to produce the neurotransmitters, serotonin and melatonin, which help us to feel happier and sleep better.

Studies show that sun exposure to the arms and legs for 10-15 minutes every day can provide our bodies with the Vitamin D that is required for the day. Darker skinned people require more sunlight to produce vitamin D, and will likely require more than 15 or 20 minutes. If you have fair skin you may need less exposure. Ideally, you should aim to be in the sun during its highest point as this is when the beneficial UVB rays are most abundant. As long as you avoid sunburn, getting sun exposure on a regular basis without the use of sunscreen will help to improve your health rather than harm it. If you know you’re going to be out in the sun for a longer period of time than what your skin can handle, then obviously it makes sense to protect yourself. The best way is to wear clothing that will block the sun while also allowing you to stay cool. If you must use sunscreen, choose a natural one, most sunscreens contain toxic chemicals that are readily absorbed by the skin and actually increase the risk of cancer! Make sure that your sunscreen blocks both UVA and UVB radiation otherwise all you’ll be doing is preventing the production of vitamin D and not protecting yourself from the harmful UVA rays responsible for damaging your skin.  Drink plenty of water and moisturize your skin after a day in the sun, it’ll need it.

Another significant benefit of sunlight is that it helps in the prevention of infections resulting from bacteria, molds, and viruses. The health benefits of sunlight include strengthening our immune system by increasing our white blood cell count, which will make our bodies stronger to fight viruses and germs and it also helps to increase the ability of our red blood cells to carry oxygen.

In addition, healthy exposure to sunlight will:

  • Strengthen our cardiovascular system
  • Normalize our blood pressure as well as blood sugar
  • Increase our metabolism
  • Aid in weight loss
  • Ensure the  proper functioning of our kidneys by eliminating wastes
  • Enhance our liver function
  • Improve our digestion
  • Above all, sunshine has that magical power to alter our moods and cheer us up, preventing anxiety and depression.

So, fear not, spend some quality time with the sun, your body will thank you.

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