The rain has stopped. The sun has poked its smiling face through the parting clouds revealing its splendor, and inviting me to bask in its comforting warmth.
Should I accept its invitation?
The sun - FRIEND or FOE? What's your take?
I know Robert Nuttall's take.
“Nobody is safe from the sun," says Nuttall, Assistant Director of Health Policy with the Canadian Cancer Society. "Canadians need to know how to protect their skin by checking the UV index daily, covering up, wearing sunscreen and using safer sources of vitamin D such as supplements and diet."
In other words, avoid sunlight exposure. Sheesh.
He does have a point though. We DO need to avoid overexposure and to protect our skin from damage caused by sunburn.
But we also need to expose our skin - and, in fact, our entire bodies - to the sun. Sunlight is our friend... with benefits.
So, before we run for cover, let's chat about that for a moment, shall we?
Activated vitamin D regulates the immune system and serves us as a potent cancer cell growth inhibitor. Also, it stimulates the pancreas to make insulin, improves dental health, and enables the uptake of calcium into our bones.
I bet you knew that.
But did you know that our bodies have mechanisms to self-regulate the amounts of vitamin D we take in, making it the safest source of vitamin D we can get. Unlike with vitamin D from a bottle, you can't get too much. What can be "safer" than that!
In case you've never heard of it, p53 is the "Guardian Angel" of the DNA, the enzyme that regulates apoptosis (cell suicide) and destroys cancer cells. Well, hello??? Increasing p53 activity is one of the primary goals of oncologists!
When sunlight stimulates the thyroid gland, it increases hormone levels thereby increasing the rate of metabolism. A sluggish metabolism is frequently associated with unwanted weight gain.
Nitric oxide is an essential molecule that dilates blood vessels and improves blood flow. This benefits blood pressure, muscle building... and sex lives.
Obviously. We simply feel better - about ourselves and about life in general - when the sun is shining. Every performer who has ever sang their heart out to the lyrics of "You are my Sunshine" since it was first recorded in 1939 has known this, too!
Sunlight acts as nature's anti-depressant by decreasing levels of melatonin, a pineal hormone that depresses mood.
Ironically, spending at least 20 minutes outside in natural light (without sunglasses) in the early part of the day may also help melatonin levels to be higher at night when we need it to be, to induce sleepiness.
This helps us to be bright and cheerful by day, and ready to get a good night's sleep by night.
Squalene is an isoprenoid (lipid, or fat). It doesn't block UV rays. It simply makes radiation - whether UVA, UVB, or visible light - harmless to you because it protects at a cellular level. This is the aim of the game, my friends.
Squalene can also help prevent sunlight-related damage to your eyes by protecting from free radical damage. Good thing, too, since the use of sunglasses has a way filtering out light which would otherwise enter through our eyes and send signals to the pineal gland in our brain, producing that necessary melatonin we were talking about earlier.
You might get a teensy amount of squalene in herbs and spices such as cinnamon, rosemary, turmeric, and ginger but the richest sources are in oils such as:
Squalene works even better when used in combination with natural vitamin E!
Like squalene, anti-oxidant rich foods accumulate on your skin, and bathe your eyes and internal organs in damage-limiting, protective compounds at a cellular level.
These are some of my favorites:
There may be occasions when, despite your best efforts to protect yourself "from the inside", you still feel you need additional help with a topical application. If harsh, toxic chemicals aren't your thing, this may interest you...
It's got organic olive oil, natural vitamin E, organic rosemary leaf extract, carrot seed extract, and other good things to prevent damage and premature aging of the skin.
I don't know about you, but I'm heading out to catch some sun today! Well-armed with a breakfast smoothie rich in anti-oxidants, squalene, and other essential fatty acids, I probably won't need any sunscreen today.
I might need some non-toxic bug spray though. (We've got mosquitoes galore!)