The Nine Benefits of Getting Sun
As we saw in my last post (part 1), too many of us are not getting enough sun! Vitamin D supplements just don’t cut it if we want to biohack our way to good health. Here are the nine benefits of getting energy straight from its greatest source: the sun.
1. Strengthened Eyesight
Believe it or not, being out in the sun can prevent eye issues such as nearsightedness (also known as myopia) and macular degeneration which can lead to blindness. Exposure to the sun’s light helps the cells in your eyes regenerate more quickly and efficiently.
2. Improved Mood
The sun's rays can also improve how you perceive your quality of life. For instance, when you lay out by the pool, your skin comes in contact with the sun. This helps your body to produce beta-endorphins or B-endorphins which are your body’s own drug that reduces pain and makes you feel happy at the same time. In addition to B-endorphins, sunshine also helps you produce other chemicals that boost your mood like serotonin and dopamine, as well as other hormones that increase thyroid activity which help you lose weight.
3. Happier Digestive System (which prevents obesity, too!)
The boost to your thyroid is not the only way the sun helps you lose or control your weight. The sun’s rays can reduce weight gain, suppress appetite, and slow the production of cell secretions that lead to obesity. Vitamin D also protects your insides from inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), protects the lining of your intestines against pathogens, and improves your liver function.
4. Increased Bone and Hair Health
Vitamin D is essential for bone health, which benefits your teeth too. In fact, studies show that mothers with low levels of vitamin D are at an increased risk of giving birth to cavity-prone children! The sun also helps stimulate hair growth and has been used in treatments for hair loss and baldness.
5. Higher Energy, Cognition, and Wakefulness
Since humans are biologically programmed to be awake during the day (also known as being diurnal) getting proper sunlight first thing in the morning is important to feeling awake throughout the rest of your day as well as helping you fall asleep more easily at night. Naturally, with better sleep comes more energy and increased ability to enjoy your day to the fullest. In addition, the sun's rays help you on a cellular level by allowing your cells to act like a plant’s cells and directly convert light into even more energy.
6. Preventing Neurocognitive Disorders
Neurocognitive disorders are when a person has trouble understanding and processing their surroundings. They can be caused by a brain injury, old age, or by genetics and having a vitamin D deficiency makes you much more susceptible to them. The sun also increases brain derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) levels aka the genes that help you learn and remember things more effectively (here’s my previous blog post about BDNF if you want to learn more).
7. Energized Immune System and Reduced Inflammation
Sunlight energizes the cells in your body that play a central role in fighting diseases and increases your white blood cell count (white blood cells are the cells in your bloodstream that are your first defense against viruses and bacteria). As a result, sun rays decrease autoimmunity issues, increase the amount anti-inflammatory hormones which prevents internal swelling, and protects your lungs from respiratory tract infections.
8. More Efficient Cardiovascular System
The cardiovascular system (or circulatory system) is how your heart pumps blood around your body and sunlight activates a number of chemicals that allow you to do so more efficiently. Infrared sun rays help you to get more nitric oxide from metals in your bloodstream which stabilizes blood pressure, helps you grow more blood cells, and improves your overall circulation which is vital for your overall health.
9. Protects Against Cancer
According to current research, sun exposure can actually protect against cancers and improve your skin. Sun rays help your skin cells to regenerate more quickly which prevents cancers from forming and improves the elasticity of your skin allowing you to look more youthful. Contrary to popular belief, sunscreen can actually cause more harm than benefit to your skin by preventing you from gaining the full benefits of sunlight and can even shorten your lifespan by at least two years.
So, go out and enjoy some sun! Check out my post about how (part 3) and when to get sun and what you can do to make the most of it. Check out the Facebook discussion our experiences of enjoying the sun’s benefits.
TLDR: the sun’s rays activate pathways in the body that improve overall health.