Life Hacks

Category:  News
Thursday, April 21st, 2016 at 7:42 AM

Spring is finally here. This means it’s time to dispel all the cabin fever that has been building up by this seemingly never-ending winter. It’s finally time to get outside and enjoy the radiant sunshine.

Atapa Snana is the yogic phrase for the healing science of sun bathing, according to Mind Body Green.

This prolonged winter that has been plaguing us is finally coming to a head, which means it’s time to get back into the swing of summer. Plants are not the only organisms that benefit from the sun; the human body absorbs sunlight and greatly benefits from it. However, prolonged sun exposure can lead to problems like melanoma. As anything, it is best in moderation. Sun exposure directly correlates with increased mood and sleep, and can enhance the immune system and even reduce the risk of certain cancers, according to LifeHacks.org.

If your mood has been suffering from these countless cloudy days then it’s time for you to get out in the sunshine.

LifeHacks.org has compiled a list of benefits of sun exposure. First of all, your body needs a certain amount of vitamin D to be healthy. When you are in the sun, your body absorbs vitamin D, which is a naturally occurring vitamin that helps your body absorb calcium and phosphorus.

They reported researchers at the University of Edinburgh found a compound called nitric oxide, which helps lower blood pressure and is released into the blood stream as soon as sunlight touches the skin. This study proves the sun has more positive effects on the body than just vitamin D production.

One study at the University of Cambridge assessed vitamin D production in over 1,700 men and women in England. They found that the more sunshine a person was exposed to, the better cognitive function they had.

Sun exposure can even ease mild depression. Seasonal affective disorder (SAD) is more commonly known as seasonal depression. The Mayo clinic categorizes it as very common and says it affects around 3 million people per year in the U.S. It is usually self-diagnosable and lasts a few months on average. SAD is most common in the winter. Sun exposure in the spring months is the best way to counteract this funk. Moderate levels of sun exposure actually increase levels of serotonin, natural antidepressants in the brain.

Sun exposure can also improve your sleep. UV rays from the sun produce melatonin, which is a natural hormone made by the body’s pineal gland. It’s a gland in the middle of the brain and melatonin is stored throughout the day, and only used at night.

According to the Mayo Clinic, the sun builds melatonin in our body, making it easier to regulate sleep, fall asleep, while controlling hormones, body temperature and other functions.

It’s even said sun exposure can enhance the immune system. White blood cells increase with sun exposure. It just so happens white blood cells are the key disease fighting and defense system of the body.

This leads us to the topic of how sun exposure can reduce the risk of some cancers. Vitamin D deficiency increases the risk of cancer. Getting regular sun and eating healthy can actually decrease your risk of developing these types of cancer. Studies from the University of California observed that patients in New York, who had less sun than patients of New Mexico, were three times likelier to develop colon cancer. Also, since the increase of vitamin D supplements, there has been a 60 percent drop in risk of developing cancer.

Mind Body Green claims the sun also kills bacteria. Nobel Prize winner, Niels Finsen, discovered this. He published “Om Lysets Indvirkninger paa Huden” (On the effects of light on the skin) in 1893 and the classical treatise “Om Anvendelse i Medicinen af koncentrerede kemiske Lysstraaler” (The use of concentrated chemical light rays in medicine) in 1896.

Sun exposure also has a beneficial effect on skin disorders such as psoriasis, acne, eczema and fungal infections. It can also lower cholesterol, cleanse the blood and blood vessels and improve the amount of oxygen delivered to the tissues.

Sun exposure for infants and children can help them grow tall and strong, with the help of vitamin D.

The most important thing to remember is that no matter how amazing the sun is, do not stay out in it too long. One can get sun poisoning and sun burn. When out in the sun, make sure to use organic sunscreen, free of chemicals like Benzophenone 2, octyl-methoxycinnamate, retinyl palmitate, butyl-methdiebenzoylmethane and oxybenzone. Many of these chemicals are toxic and link to cell damage or are carcinogens.

Sunblock also blocks the absorption of Vitamin D, which is one of the most important factors. Never use above 50 “SPF” and always use organic sunscreen. Apply every few hours and do not stay in the sun for prolonged periods of time.

Make sure to take advantage of the first sunny days of the year. Next time you want to stay indoors, think about all the great benefits of the sun. Spend a few minutes a day outdoors, at least, and you will see an improvement in your mood, brain function, health and sleep. It may even be the ticket you needed to get out of depression.

Anna Ashcraft is the Managing Editor of Features for The Spectator.

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