As far as sunlight is concerned, we are largely taught to treat the sun with caution and to worry about all of the sun’s negative side effects. Sunburns, premature aging, and even skin cancer are all known to be short and long-term effects of too much sunlight exposure, and these are things we obviously want to avoid. To that end, there is certainly too much of a good thing when it comes to sunlight exposure.
Too much of anything healthy can wind up being harmful to health. It is possible to drink too much water and even eat too many green vegetables! That said, most people do not consume enough of either, and we know that not getting enough water or vegetables is associated with poor health outcomes. The same can be said for the sun.
Doug Kaufmann’s analogy for sunlight is perfect; you wouldn’t hold a match and let it burn until it seared the skin on your fingers. Similarly, you should never sit in the sun unprotected long enough to let it damage your skin, which is often evidenced by a sunburn. And to that end, we have written on ways to be “Sun Smart” and enjoy the great outdoors while both getting enough sunlight to glean the health benefits and protecting yourself from the damage that the sun can cause.
Sunlight does have some important health properties; notably, when the sun comes in contact with unprotected skin (unprotected meaning not blocked by any sort of ultraviolet glass, physical barriers like clothes or chemical barriers like sunscreen), it produces some beneficial byproducts. Most notable is Vitamin D.
Vitamin D plays a number of roles in the body. In sufficient levels, it plays an important part in bone health, cancer prevention, and mental health. Many people, however, are deficient in Vitamin D; while it is possible to supplement with vitamin D an get vitamin D from certain foods, regular sunlight is one of the best ways for your body to naturally produce this important hormone. Approximately 15 minutes of sunlight 3 times a week on exposed hands, arms, and face is often sufficient to get blood levels of vitamin D in their proper range. Your doctor can test for levels of Vitamin D in your body; this is important knowledge to have.
Sunlight is also good for the production of serotonin, an important hormone that plays a vital role in brain health. Likely, it is no coincidence that people in higher latitudes that experience less sun exposure are more likely to experience depression. It is thought that sunlight can assist in boosting mood and ultimately preventing depression.
Finally, while we are often told that the sun can be detrimental to our skin health, there is evidence that sunlight might be beneficial for a number of skin problems, such as eczema, psoriasis, and acne. Sun exposure might do as much to promote skin health as does to damage our skin, when enjoyed in a responsible way. Given the link between skin problems and fungi explored in The Fungus Link books, this might suggest that sunlight has some level of anti-fungal activity.
Regardless, sunlight exposure can be an important part of overall health, making it an important component of your Kaufmann Lifestyle. Having a comprehensive health-promoting strategy that includes an anti-fungal diet, smart supplementation, sensible exercise, abundant rest, and a little bit of sunlight likely goes a long way towards disease prevention and long-term health.