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We’ve all heard someone say it: “Stay out of the sun. It can cause wrinkles, skin cancer, and cataracts.” Sunshine has gotten a lot of “bad press” lately, but that doesn’t mean we don’t need the light of the sun.
To begin with, sunlight is the major source for vitamin D. This vitamin does many important things for us, including helping the body absorb calcium, which we need for strong bones.
Vitamin D enters the body when the skin is exposed to the sun. However, sitting behind a glass window won’t cut it. Glass blocks 95% of the ultraviolet light—so open the window, or even better yet, get outside! Don’t overdo it, though. Just like most things, too much sunshine can be harmful. If you’re going to be in the sun for very long, take precautions—wear a hat and cover your skin. Sunscreen is not always best. It’s been found that sunscreen can decrease the incidence of skin cancer by up to 30%, but it also contains titanium dioxide. This chemical can accumulate in the skin—and is suspected of causing cancer. Instead, wear long sleeves, or get your sun in the early morning or late afternoon.
When we think of a “sunny” personality, we imagine someone who is cheerful, energetic, and a quick thinker. Exposure to sunshine actually promotes all these qualities! Bright sunshine improves alertness and mental ability, and it helps fight depression and fatigue. Sunlight also helps keep your internal body clock on course. This is important, because this clock regulates hormones, sleep patterns, mood, and appetite. Sunlight can even greatly reduce the symptoms of “jet lag.”
Sunlight offers even more blessings! For one thing, it can actually help lower cholesterol. It speeds up the body’s circulation, which helps rid the system of toxins. It also increases the number of white blood cells that defend the body against germs. Sunlight helps wounds heal faster, and it kills many bacteria after just a short exposure.
Sunlight can ease arthritis, type I diabetes, high blood pressure, heart problems, seizures, and eczema. It can even help prevent leukemia and cancers of the prostate, colon, breast. Do check with a doctor if you have a medical condition and are not sure if it can be helped by sunshine. Some diseases are aggravated by sunlight.
As early as 1915, it was discovered that exposure to sunlight had a calming and painkilling effect on people. Researchers found that it helped arthritis sufferers and those who were agitated or irritable. Of course we’ve known for thousands of years that sunshine is a good thing. Solomon, the wisest man who ever lived, said: “Truly the light is sweet, and a pleasant thing it is for the eyes to behold the sun” (Ecclesiastes 11:7).
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