The sun is a major healing force and is responsible for sustaining life on this planet. However, in recent years it is more recognized for its damaging effects than how it can positively affect someone’s health. This is due to an improper relationship with the sun, however, with some slight adjustments that healing power can be recaptured so you don’t screw up your sun exposure.
Acclimation and exposure
There is a tendency to overdo it when exposing the body to the suns rays, and the result is often a skin damaging sunburn.
When acclimating to the sun, start in the spring and create a protective tan with phased in exposure. Melanin, the tanned skin pigment that is produced in the spring, prevents sunburn in the summer. It is a biological mechanism for photo-protection designed exclusively to maintain human’s healthy relationship with the sun.
Melanin in the skin transforms 99.9% of absorbed UV radiation into heat that is easily dissipated, which effectively avoids radiation damage that contributes to cell damage.
The best time of day to tan is early morning to solar noon. Expose at least your arms and legs, and do it without sunblock for at least 15 to 45 minutes. Use the heat and colour of the skin as a guide to get out and cover up.
If you ever burn, aloe mixed with a drop or two of peppermint, lavender, or seabuckthorn offers soothing relief and quickens healing.
Misuse of sunscreen
Not only do synthetic sunscreens effectively block the healing benefits of the sun, they also become absorbed and baked into the skin, creating a whole host of potential health problems.
Synthetic sunscreen creates a false sense of security by disabling the skin’ early detection system, the sunburn, that gives fair warning of imminent danger. This results in overexposure to UV radiation, which effectively ruins the healing benefits and creates other health problems.
Sunscreens block UVB rays, which are the rays required for proper vitamin D production. The interaction of the suns rays with skin activates the production of vitamin D, which scientists are just beginning to discover how much the body sorely needs.
Consider only non-toxic sunscreens or botanical oils when sun exposure becomes too long and skin protection is necessary. Almost all plant oils offer some degree of ultraviolet protection to their own tissue – and ours. Officially, the term SPF can only be used to reference synthetic sunscreen ingredients, but plant oils do offer a range of protection that can gracefully extend our time in the sun. Plant oils of virgin coconut, jojoba, olive, and sea buckthorn applied to the skin can provide a measure of sun protection. Raspberry seed oil also has potential use as a broad range sun protectant. Under a spectrometer, raspberry seed oil absorbed both UVB and UVC rays while scattering UVA; it may provide an equivalent of SPF-25.
Sunglasses have now become mostly a fashion statement and the health consequences are concerning.
The eyes need sunlight too, as it is the most direct path of communication to the brain and peoples health and mood depend on it. When a full spectrum of light rays are received by the retina, it is coded in the brain and sets in motion production of hormones and neurochemicals that keep people happy and healthy.
The lens at the back of the eye, which stimulates the body’s master clock in the hypothalamus and pineal gland, absorbs the blue part of the sunlight spectrum. This in turn creates the production and release of melatonin, the circadian rhythm hormone that regulates sleep-wake cycles. It is also a powerful immune booster and anti-aging antioxidant that protects DNA and delays neuro-degeneration.
Wearing sunglasses or being indoors blocks blue light reception and reduces the immune system benefits and nightly dose of melatonin. For these reasons, use sunglasses more sparingly and in more intense sunlight situations.
The antioxidant content of food that is eaten on a consistent basis also has a determining effect on the chances of sunburn. The suns rays damage the skin through free radicals, which are responsible for premature ageing and some cancers. Countering these free radicals with antioxidants is important in preventing damage such as sunburn and any related diseases it may promote.
A high antioxidant diet of sun grown produce, herbs and supplements is the best form of internal sunscreen, and should be highly considered as part of a beneficial relationship with the sun. Summer is a great time to indulge in sun-ripened fruit, vegetables, and herbs that build an internal SPF. Tomatoes, for example, have demonstrated a 30% increase in sun protection after eating a tomato-rich diet. 16mg of lycopene, the red antioxidant found in tomatoes, seems to be the key. Other SPF foods include watermelon, green tea, turmeric, red, green, and yellow peppers, and berries.
Also, don’t forget the chocolate! Pure, unprocessed, and unadulterated chocolate has 4 times the amount of phenols and catechins as teas, and these compounds protect the skin against sunburn.
Many of the skin issues that are called “sun damage” are really the result of malnutrition. The recipe for wrinkles and dark spots is our current standard diet of processed food grown in the shadows of pesticides and factory farming. The transfats, plasticizers, bromide, formaldehyde, coal tar derivatives, color and flavor additives, and fluoride, commonly found in processed foods create reactions in our bodies that trigger collagen breakdown, inflammation, age spots, and hyper-pigmentation.
Now go and correct your relationship with the sun and enjoy the limitless benefits, without the side effects created by incorrect exposure.