A Day in the Sun
By Paul Rothbart
Human beings are naturally attuned to cycles of daylight and dark. We are diurnal animals. Yes, there are the night owls, but we are hardwired to be active in the sun. There are many warnings about the potential dangers of too much sun and they are valid. Sunburn and skin cancer are serious consequences and certainly to be avoided. But when taken in healthy doses with proper protection, the star at the center of our solar system has some benefits to our health. Here are some of the ways the sun is helpful to our well-being.
Serotonin is the magical hormone that produces good moods and happy feelings. The brain responds to day and night by its production of hormones. Serotonin in the day for a calm, focused mind, and melatonin at night for sleep. A lack of exposure to sunlight can reduce serotonin levels to the point that depression can set in. This is also the cause of seasonal affective disorder, whereby depression can occur during the colder months when people spend more time indoors. Sunlight can have a major impact on our mental health.
The ultraviolet-B rays in sunlight, cause the skin to make Vitamin D, an essential nutrient in building and maintaining strong bones. Diseases such as osteoporosis, osteomalacia, and rickets have been linked to lack of exposure to the sun.
Prevention of Some Forms of Cancer
Although too much sun can cause skin cancer, research has shown that moderate exposure to sunlight can help prevent some cancers. People who live in areas with fewer sunlight hours have been found to be more likely to contract certain forms of cancer. These include prostate cancer, colon cancer, ovarian cancer, pancreatic cancer, and Hodgkin's lymphoma.
Healing Skin Conditions
For some people, exposure to sunlight can help heal some skin conditions. The World Health Organization has found that psoriasis, eczema, acne, and jaundice may be partially treated with light therapy. A dermatologist can determine if this might be a viable treatment for you.
There are a few other conditions that research has found sunlight may help treat. While these are preliminary findings, they are well worth further studies. Rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, and thyroiditis are all included in this research.
Like most things in life, too much sunlight can be harmful. But in moderate amounts, the sun is a key to keeping mentally and physically healthy. Mother Nature wouldn't put us in the path of a giant fusion reaction if it wasn't good for us.
To learn more about your health, wellness and fitness, see your local chiropractor at The Joint Chiropractic in Phoenix, Ariz.