by John MacDonald

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by John MacDonald

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Health benefits of sunlight

🌿 Surprising Health Benefits of Sunlight ☀️

Daily exposure to sunlight offers numerous advantages beyond the well-known Vitamin D boost.

Investigations into the health benefits of sunlight exposure indicate it can:

🩺 Reduce blood pressure by expanding blood vessels

❤️ Enhance heart health through consistent exposure

🏃‍♂️ Support overall cardiovascular wellness, thereby improving physical fitness

🌡️ Regulate blood sugar levels, maintaining them within healthy ranges

🔄 Promote better blood circulation, as UV radiation triggers the release of nitric oxide, facilitating smoother blood flow

🔥 Help prevent metabolic syndrome and type 2 diabetes

The research encapsulates its findings in a compelling assertion:

“While exposure to sunlight is linked to skin cancer risk, avoiding sunlight could result in greater health detriments than benefits.” With this perspective, it’s crucial to apply SPF sunscreen to protect your skin!

Let’s compare the Western view with the Traditional Chinese Medicine view. I think you will find it interesting that in many ways the if you consider that TCM has been practices for over 2000 years.

Western View

First, some of that report about the health benefits of sunlight (above) was taken, says.

Sunlight Has Cardiovascular Benefits Independently of Vitamin D

Background: Elevated blood pressure (BP) ranks as the top factor contributing to the loss of disability-adjusted life years worldwide.

Studies highlight a link between higher sunlight exposure and lower BP levels and cardiovascular mortality across populations. People with elevated levels of vitamin D in their blood have a lower risk of developing hypertension, cardiovascular diseases, and metabolic syndrome.

However, evidence from numerous trials indicates that taking oral vitamin D supplements does not impact these health outcomes. While sunlight exposure is associated with an increased risk of skin cancers, there’s no established connection to higher overall mortality rates.

Research in Scandinavian cohorts reveals a dose-responsive decrease in mortality associated with more frequent sun-seeking behaviours. The skin harbours substantial nitrogen oxide reserves, which UV light can transform into nitric oxide (NO), releasing it into the bloodstream. This process has been shown in human studies to lead to arterial vasodilation and lower BP, with animal studies suggesting a potential reduction in metabolic syndrome as well.

Summary: The positive health benefits of sunlight on cardiovascular health indicators occur independently of vitamin D benefits.

Key Messages: The overarching goal of public health advisories should centre on all-cause mortality. Although sunlight exposure is a known risk factor for skin cancer, avoiding the sun altogether could be more detrimental to overall health than beneficial.

Guidance on sun exposure stands at a pivotal junction. Nearly a hundred years of research have established the skin-damaging and cancer-causing effects of UV light, including the specific processes involved.

Yet, strikingly, there’s no concrete evidence linking UV exposure directly to shortened life spans, especially when compared to well-known risks like high blood pressure, smoking, or excessive alcohol consumption.

An extensive array of studies suggests that sunlight offers significant health advantages, distinct from vitamin D benefits, which oral supplements cannot replicate. My research has contributed to understanding how sunlight influences the reduction of nitric oxide in the skin and its transfer to the bloodstream, presenting another way sunlight could promote health.

However, it’s likely there are more mechanisms yet to be discovered. The focus of medical professionals should broaden from merely preventing skin cancer to enhancing overall longevity and health.

This view is taken from Richard B. Weller (Medical Research Council Centre for Inflammation Research, University of Edinburgh, Queen’s Medical Research Institute, Edinburgh, UK )- This post on The Health Benefits of Sunshine was paraphrased by me for the full article go here

TCM View on the Health Benefits of Sunlight

Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) holds a holistic view of health that integrates the connection between nature and human well-being. Sunlight, being a fundamental aspect of the natural world, is considered vital in TCM for maintaining health and harmony within the body. Here are some of the key perspectives TCM offers on the benefits of sunlight:

  1. Qi and Vital Energy:

– TCM posits that sunlight is essential for the cultivation of Qi (vital energy) within the body. Sunlight is believed to enhance the body’s Yang energy, which is necessary for activity, warmth, and maintaining the body’s internal processes.

  1. Circulation and Blood Flow:

– Similar to its modern understanding, TCM believes that sunlight exposure can improve blood circulation. Improved circulation enhances the delivery of nutrients and oxygen throughout the body, contributing to overall vitality and health.

  1. Mood Enhancement:

– Exposure to sunlight is considered beneficial for emotional well-being in TCM. It is believed to help dispel dampness and cold, which are associated with depressive states and lethargy, thereby uplifting mood and increasing vitality.

  1. Bone Health:

– While TCM does not explicitly describe vitamin D synthesis, it recognizes that sunlight exposure is crucial for maintaining strong bones and preventing conditions related to weakness or deficiency.

  1. Immunity and Disease Prevention:

– Sunlight is thought to strengthen the body’s defensive Qi, improving immunity and resistance to diseases. TCM practitioners might advise moderate sun exposure to support the body’s ability to ward off illnesses.

  1. Regulation of Sleep-Wake Cycles:

– TCM acknowledges the importance of natural rhythms and cycles in human health. Sunlight exposure is believed to help regulate the body’s internal clock, promoting healthy sleep patterns and vitality.

  1. Skin Conditions:

– In some cases, TCM uses sunlight exposure as part of the treatment for certain skin conditions like psoriasis, leveraging its natural healing properties to improve skin health.

TCM emphasizes balance and moderation in all things, including sunlight exposure. The idea is to seek harmony between the body’s internal environment and the external world. Too much or too little sunlight can disrupt this balance, leading to health issues. Therefore, TCM advises sensible exposure to sunlight, taking into account factors like the individual’s constitution, the season, and the time of day, to harness the sun’s energy for health and well-being effectively.

Certainly, I see my mood change on sunny days and do not doubt the health benefits of sunlight

FAQs about the Health Benefits of Sunlight

  1. How does sunlight exposure benefit mental health? Sunlight exposure can have a profound impact on mental health. It helps regulate the body’s circadian rhythms, which improves sleep quality and can significantly reduce symptoms of depression. The natural light is also linked to the production of serotonin, a mood-lifting neurotransmitter, making sunlight exposure a natural and effective way to boost your mood and combat stress.
  2. Can getting enough sunlight to help with vitamin D production? Yes, one of the most well-known benefits of sunlight is its role in vitamin D synthesis. When your skin is exposed to UVB rays from the sun, it produces vitamin D, a crucial nutrient that plays a significant role in bone health, immune function, and reducing inflammation. Just a few minutes of sun exposure a day can help maintain adequate vitamin D levels.
  3. Does sunlight have any benefits for cardiovascular health? Emerging research suggests that sunlight exposure may have several benefits for heart health. It can help lower blood pressure by triggering the skin to release nitric oxide into the bloodstream, which dilates blood vessels. Additionally, adequate vitamin D levels, supported by sunlight exposure, have been linked to a lower risk of heart attacks and strokes.
  4. How does sunlight influence sleep quality? Sunlight exposure, particularly in the morning, can improve sleep quality by helping regulate your body’s internal clock or circadian rhythm. Exposure to natural light during the day boosts melatonin production at night—the hormone responsible for regulating sleep. This can help you fall asleep more easily and enjoy more restful sleep.
  5. Are there health benefits of sunlight for skin conditions? Yes, some skin conditions benefit from sunlight. While excessive sun exposure is known to harm the skin, moderate sunlight has therapeutic effects on certain skin conditions. Conditions like psoriasis, eczema, jaundice, and acne can improve with controlled sun exposure. Sunlight can help reduce inflammation and slow down the overproduction of skin cells seen in psoriasis. However, it’s important to balance sun exposure with skin cancer risk and always protect your skin according to dermatological advice.

Remember, while sunlight offers numerous health benefits of sunlight, it’s essential to enjoy it responsibly to avoid the risks associated with overexposure, such as skin cancer. Using sunscreen, wearing protective clothing, and limiting direct sun exposure during peak intensity hours can help you safely reap the benefits of the sun.

Health Benefits of Sunlight

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