I love Summer. The sunshine is life-giving to me! I can’t imagine anything better than spending time at the pool and lake with the warm sun on my skin. Plus, it’s mostly allergen-free, so unlike most of the year, I can spend lots of time outside without regretting it later. Anyone else share this passion with me??
Unfortunately for a lot of people, the summertime has a bad rap. The beautiful sunshine has been villainized; we are advised to minimize our sun exposure and when we must be outside, cover every inch of ourselves with sunscreen every hour so we don’t get the big, bad cancer. Funny how effective the “c” word is into scaring us into submission.
Coincidentally, our nation is currently experiencing epidemic levels of vitamin D deficiency. Vitamin D is a valuable nutrient that comes from the sun and helps our immune system protect our bodies from a multitude of diseases, including cancer. Actually, some research studies have proven that sun exposure can decrease our chances of getting cancer. Add to that the fact that there is no proof that sunscreen protects against cancer and that sunscreen itself contains dangerous chemicals and carcinogens, the case against the sun is quickly diminishing.
Okay, now of course, the sun can be dangerous; it is a burning ball of fire, after all. You can’t simply sit outside for hours in direct sunlight and not expect to be hating yourself the next day. Sunburns do cause cell death and can damage your skin. It’s important to develop a healthy relationship with the sun…
After a winter indoors, your skin will need to be acclimated to the sun. The best way to do it is spend 15-30 minutes at a time out in the sun (without sunscreen), getting exposure little bits at a time. Your skin will respond as it is supposed to, the melanin will become tanned and protect you more and more from the sun naturally. People with fair skin get Vitamin D faster and reach the maximum level of exposure sooner, so then it’s time to find some shade. But most people can work up to being able to spend hours in the sun without harm.
If you are going to be out in the sun for longer than your skin is ready for, or your children need protection, consider using natural sunscreen options instead of those loaded with chemicals. Personally, I use straight up coconut oil whenever I am in the sun for longer than half an hour. It has minimum SPF so it still allows me to get Vitamin D and my skin tans easier when I use it so that I can build up my natural tolerance to the sun faster.
Lastly, a healthy diet is the best way to avoid a sunburn. A diet high in antioxidants will protect your body from sunshine’s free radicals that cause cell damage. So feel free to snack away at those sun-ripened berries and dark chocolate! Avoiding foods that cause inflammation are another way to protect yourself – grains and Omega-6 vegetable oils being the main offender. People often blame the sun for their wrinkles, collagen breakdown/premature aging and sun spots, but it’s actually an inflammatory diet that causes these issues. Eat a diet high in healthy Omega-3 fats (found in animal fats, fish, coconut oil and organic raw dairy), the building blocks of your skin.
Now, get out there and enjoy the summer sunshine without fear!
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