Hey hey! It’s starting to feel like we are actually in Spring 2023. The sun is naturally elevating our moods & productivity levels. The following blog post will feature our relationship with the sun, and how we all have the potential of finding energy via its healing rays. We will talk about why the sun is so essential to our biological mechanisms working as they should, while also highlighting how to do this wisely!
As a whole, we are a sick nation. There is an upsurge in cancers, obesity, & general poor health. People are sick of feeling sick! Along with learning just how important the sun is, we’ll see the real devastation that was caused from fearing it & avoiding it. We have been told myths about the sun that may have started from a sound place, but like most things, created a cascade effect of poor health habits & unnecessary interventions.
Let’s begin with some bio-chemistry!
Our Little Engines
You’ve all heard about our body’s cellular engines: mitochondria! Mitochondria make all the energy in your body via the electron transport chain. This battery in us works by electrical charges, which is part of the reason the sun has a direct relationship to the efficiency of our mitochondria.
Photosynthesis, as most of us know, take carbon dioxide, water, & sunlight to make sugar. Mitochondria do the opposite: they act like a furnace to take that sugar and create water, as well as breathe out Co2.
To keep our engines (mitochondria) revved up, our body’s have 2 programs which are called autophagy and apoptosis. To maximize energy efficiency and production, apoptosis removes the dead ‘engines’, and autophagy works to recycle and renew.
Amazingly, different parts of the frequency of sunlight control these processes.
Moreover, there is a special chemical in your mitochondria called cytochrome C oxidase. This is important because the autophagy process in the mitochondria controls innate & adaptive immunity to fight off bacterial, viral, & fungal infections. These invaders present antigens to the immune system.
Since the sun’s rays program these two processes, the sun is thus directly correlated with a healthily functioning immune system.
Lack of Sun, Low Vitamin D, Worse Covid-19 Outcomes
During the covid-19 situation, we saw an overwhelming amount of people with low vitamin D levels suffer through covid symptoms MUCH worse than those who had normal vitamin D levels.
This is because, normally, covid antigens are presented to MHC-1 (which, to translate, is what would alert the immune system to a viral infection). However, this process can be inhibited if you have very little natural light exposure (low vitamin D levels), if you are a person of darker skin and living at high latitudes not geographically aligned with your ethnicity, or you struggle with obesity. Covid-19 was a perfect example as to how inept our nation’s health was at overcoming this widespread disease.
Not to mention, the health authorities subjected us to the poorest of ‘solutions’-stay indoors.
Shockingly, more than 80% of the US population is vitamin D deficient (especially because we spend more time in artificial light than natural light). In this deficiency, we cannot present this antigen to the immune system, thus inhibiting the production of B cells (antibodies).
As noted earlier, the mitochondria is connected to our immune system such that the control mechanism behind innate & adaptive immunity is actually mitochondrial autophagy. Moreover, vitamin D levels are a proxy to how well autophagy & apoptosis works. It’s all interconnected!! Later, we are going to dive into how to increase our vitamin D levels safely & effectively.
The Sun is our Natural Antidote
Sunlight is the vaccine for all mitochondrial diseases.
According to Dr. Jack Kruse, cancer is an immune degradation of the mitochondria. Almost every epithelial cancer is tied to low vitamin D levels (melanoma, squamous cell carcinoma, and basal cell carcinoma). What the dermatologists harp on us about NOT doing is actually the antidote to these diseases. Little do we know that artificial light does more damage than the sun’s perfectly designed layers of all the different spectrums of light.
So what are the takeaways? We have the evident understanding that we are meant to be a part of nature. Even to connect with the earth (cathode) we can receive electrons via our feet by being barefoot or wearing leather shoes. The sun (anode) is the one thing that programs our cells to fight off pathogens, is the best way to increase our vitamin D levels, & supports us in reaching the most restorative levels of sleep.
And yet, we have ‘health professionals’ who genuinely believe we should avoid the sun altogether.
Love the Sun, Wisely
I will admit this is a complicated subject; someone could present evidence to refute this from many different angles. Like ‘all things health’, it’s not just ‘one thing’ that will transform our bodies and minds. Being inherently connected to nature, there various lifestyle & dietary practices we can implement to help us live as authentically human as possible.
That being said, we’ll get into how to interact with the sun in wise ways, as well as how to prepare our body’s in order to reap the full benefits!
The red light (NIR light) in the first hour or so in the morning is what primes our skin in order to prepare for the strength of UV light which emits midday. Since our society cultivated us to be more indoor dwellers, we don’t experience the natural cycle of the sun from dawn to dusk; it’s jarring to our skin to be under artificial light for hours on end, then subjecting our skin to a hot & sunny noon. This is how sunburn happens! Since vitamin D is more bioavailable at noon, make sure you get morning light exposure to precondition your skin.
Another benefit to morning light is the creation of melatonin. I mentioned earlier how the sun can aid in having a great sleeping experience-this is part of the reason why! Expose as much of yourself to the morning light for melatonin production; it will be released at night as a hormone when your body temperature drops & it’s time to slumber! Another benefit of morning light is that it sets your circadian rhythm which controls B & T cells (immune system functions).
1. Did you know our diet can have a huge impact on our resiliency to the sun? We have an internal SPF which is only strengthened by sun-grown fruits & vegetables. One study showed that eating organic sun-ripened tomatoes increased our skin’s innate SPF by 30%! Our skin was created to have a semi-permeable layer with natural UV protection, as well as anti-bacterial & anti-wrinkle properties. This can be stripped by chemical peels, foaming cleansers, & more! In the same vein, the increase in inflammatory seed oils, trans fats, artificial additives, & pesticides completely derail healthily functioning mitochondria, thus damaging our DNA, spurring the aging process, and causing chronic inflammation. Linoleic acid, for instance, can block melanin synthesis (goodbye tan, hello burn). Sunscreen was introduced not too long after toxic industrial seed oils infiltrated the American Standard Diet.
2. Most animals in nature utilize shade when they become burnt out from sun exposure. We should most definitely do the same! You are still absorbing vitamin D by being under an umbrella. If you are fair-skinned, and your ethnicity is used to more overcast weather, you are still included here! Start by small sun doses of 5-10 minutes, and work your way to longer exposure if you are able. You are likely getting all the vitamin D you need from even that small stint of time! While farming, I had to wear long-brimmed hats and loose clothing to cover what I could, since I was exposed to the sun for more than what my skin pigmentation could handle. You do you! Another typical American tradition is working indoors for most of the year, then going on a beach vacation. Here, I would suggest utilizing umbrellas for shade, and also working on a tan prior to your beach trip. There are also sunscreens which are more naturally derived (normally zinc-based) and avoid harmful additives.
3. Natural Topical SPFs: Plant oils are natural protectants. My favorite is jojoba oil (for my face, because it’s a higher price point), then coconut oil for my body. Olive oil, sea buckthorn oil, & raspberry seed oils are also great alternatives.
Unhealthy Sun Interactions
Why am I against sunscreen?
Read the ingredients! Yikes!!
1. Sunscreen, which in most stores is completely synthetic, creates a false sense of security by allowing us to ‘safely’ stay out in the sun for longer. Although this is convenient on vacation, you’re only blocking UVB rays (sunburn causing), not UVA rays. If you are a synthetic sunscreen wearer, you may actually overexpose your skin to radiation. Furthermore, UVB rays are what we depend on for vitamin D. This is why we should trust our bodies to go outside, receive the full spectrum of light / photosynthesis, and then return to shade / indoors once we have overindulged.
Our skin also BREATHES! Chemicals in synthetic sunscreen block oxygen intake and the emission of toxins & CO2.
Not to mention, the parabens, industrial seed oils, and other chemicals are BAKING on your skin under the sun.
Hello, cancer. Hello age spots…
2. Let’s talk about glass! Driving, sitting by a window, etc. are not efficient ways of raising your vitamin D levels. Glass blocks 40-60% of red & purple light, with little-to-no effect on blue light. SO, you can actually be blue light toxic if you spend most of your time living inside or driving in your car.
3. Sunglasses: Although I do love the sunglass look, as well as avoiding eye contact with people on some days, it can be a hindrance to our health. Our pituitary gland, which sits 3 inches behind the eye, makes all the chemicals in your body and relies on UV light to signal the skin to produce melanin (tan!). Eye-to-nature contact can actually help you avoid sunburns & develop tans.
Overall, we see how important nature is to spur the engines in our systems (mitochondria!). It’s interconnected to so many essential biological processes, like our immune system & sleep.
The more rules of nature we break, the more sick & stressed we’ll become.
For overall health and longevity, be mindful in your day-to-day life to:
- Minimize artificial light and maximize natural light.
- Eat healthy fats (fish, olive oil, coconut oil, ghee) and avoid PUFA’s (trans fats/seed oils/vegetable oils).
- Avoid chemical-based sunscreen & try naturally-derived SPF’s
- Eat the rainbow & ditch the processed junk
Learn more about how to optimize your health in the Olive & Dove Nutrition & Lifestyle Package!
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