Shed Light On Your Function
March 03, 2020
March 03, 2020
Light is a powerful tool for healing and must be treated as fundamental to a functional life. Nevertheless, light has a dark, misunderstood stigma and is unjustly blamed for conditions like skin cancer, pigmentation, and wrinkling. This has led people to purposefully reduce their exposure through artificial skin products, additional clothing, and UV resistant windows on homes. Simultaneously, cultural shifts in how we work and entertain ourselves have kept people inside, more frequently exposed to artificial sources such as screens and indoor lighting. Like artificial food, artificial light is extremely harmful to our functional health and mitigating its effects whenever possible is critical. It’s safe to say, many are now lacking the vital health benefits light can provide and are suffering as a result.
Physiologically, we rely on light to dictate our circadian rhythm and maintain cellular processes, including ATP production. In the absence of light, we become gradually less functional and are unable to regulate many natural processes. The result: health concerns including vitamin deficiencies, depression, and poor sleep among many others. Humans intrinsically know the benefits and necessity – we constantly seek light by vacationing in areas with the greatest exposure to sunlight, yearn for long summer days, and have created various artificial sources to replicate the sun.
This is due to the multitude of benefits that can be received through the healing power of natural light. One of the most well-known, and for good reason, is Vitamin D. Through a chain of reactions, ultraviolet sun exposure causes the skin to produce Vitamin D, which is critical to bone health and aids in prevention of other conditions. For many, Vitamin D deficiency is a persistent and cyclical challenge due to seasonal changes or lifestyle. As a result, eating foods that are rich in Vitamin D and supplementing appropriately is critical for functional health and wellness. Natural light also plays a role in many other biological functions including sleep, energy production and metabolism. Several studies have linked exposure to improvements in quality, quantity and timing of sleep as well as ability to effectively utilize nutrition. There is no doubt, the sun is fundamental to fueling our full day - making it a part of our functional health protocol is extremely important and surprisingly accessible to all.
The most obvious and simplistic way to increase exposure to natural light and reap the healing power is to get outside unprotected. Direct contact between the sun and the skin will yield the greatest results but must be done carefully. While there is really no such thing as over exposure to the sun, there is such thing as over exposure all at one time. Easing into sun exposure and developing your “solar callus” is crucial to a healthy practice and will drastically reduce the chances of a nasty, painful sunburn. This can be done through exposure at times when the sun’s UV power is lessened (dusk or dawn) or gradually increasing exposure over a certain period of time.
However, if you live in an area covered in snow for a majority of the year (that’s us) or find yourself stuck indoors during daytime hours and you’re thinking, “I can’t possibly get outside every day,” don’t worry! There are a number of hacks available that bring the outdoors inside and provide you with similar healing power.