In the Summertime when the weather is hot…

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!

Read more from my sources here:

Scientists Blow the Lid Off Cancer & Sunscreen Myth

4 Ways You Are Screwing Up Your Sun Exposure

Avoid Sunburn, Tan Better

Benefits of Sunbathing to Pregnancy and Nursing

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I Heart Coconut Oil

Coconut Oil Miracle

Beginning in the 1960s, research began to emerge that some forms of saturated fat can increase blood cholesterol.  In general, saturated fat became feared as a major cause of heart disease, clogging our arteries and killing us slowly.  Coincidentally, at that time, the farming and production of soy products domestically was becoming a huge industry and the American Soybean Association was seeking to eliminate imported tropical oils from the market.  By the 1980s, the government and media jumped on the bandwagon against coconut oil and vegetable/canola oil became the “healthy” choice.  As a result, our products changed and we were no longer getting the nutritional benefits of coconut oil in our food. Since that time, our nation has actually seen an increase in heart disease, cancer, diabetes, and obesity.

How do you decide what to believe when it comes to your health?  This is the ultimate question I get when I tell people I write a wellness blog because there are so many contradictory opinions and “facts” out there.  Since I seem find myself always going against the grain on what’s generally accepted as healthy, I have to explain my rationale a lot.  While there’s much more that plays into my beliefs, it usually comes down to this: look at the facts and the research, but focus on the sources.  Personally, I am less likely to believe information coming from a medical journal published by a pharmaceutical company or a government recommendation based on profit to the economy.  Often, the source of the information really sheds some light on possible motives involved in the dissemination of that message.  For example, compare the likely credibility of a doctor who supports some drug and just happens to make lots of money from said support versus the doctor who is standing up against their institution and risking losing their job or research funding because of it.  While it may seem like a dramatic example, I find it all too common in my research.

Okay, back to the topic at hand: enter our current world of everything canola oil and a country dying of chronic illnesses. The Coconut Oil Miracle opened my eyes to all the health benefits the fruit has to offer – it’s pretty amazing and we’ve really been missing out.  What I loved about the book is that it uses research based on real cultures: “Coconuts (and coconut oil) have been used as a major source of food for thousands of years by millions of people in Asia, the Pacific Islands, Africa, and Central America.  Traditionally these people have had much better health than those in North America and Europe who don’t eat coconut.”  The book also explains the science behind why the fat in coconut oil is so beneficial to us.  The main reason it’s so beneficial is that it’s comprised of medium-chain and short-chain fatty acids, which our body breaks down for energy rather than storing as fat like the long-chain fatty acids in vegetable oil.

Let’s talk for a bit about free radicals. Free radicals cause cellular damage as they seek to steal electrons from other molecules, causing a chain reaction creating more free radicals stealing electrons.  They attack our cells, causing damage and mutations.  Ultimately, they cause degenerative diseases like cancer, heart disease, and diabetes, failing memory, reproductive problems, aging… the list goes on. We encounter free radicals throughout our environment and some occur naturally so they cannot be completely avoided, but many of the additives and toxins in our food promote their destruction.  It’s important to limit your exposure to free radicals and incorporate antioxidants into your diet as they’re the only way to stop them. Vegetable oils contain a high amount of free radicals because they are chemically unstable and oxidize so easily.  Coconut oil, on the other hand, contains none of these and also helps fight the ones you experience in your environment by giving you a boost of antioxidants, plus it’s safe and still beneficial after heated during cooking – a rarity among oils.

The book goes on to detail all the proven health benefits coconut has and the list will astound you:

  • “Coconut oil protects the heart and arteries from injury caused by bacteria, viruses and free radicals.  By removing the cause of arterial injury, coconut oil prevents further damage, allowing the arterial walls to heal, thus not only reducing the risk of heart disease but actually promoting healing.”
  • An New Caledonia island study revealed that islanders near ports eating modern foods “had an incidence of dental cavities of 26 percent, and those who lived inland and on a diet of native foods an incidence of 0.14 percent.”  These islanders with phenomenal dental health ate lots of coconut and “never brushed their teeth, never flossed, never used antibacterial mouthwash and never saw dentists.”
  • “Today people are suffering and dying from illnesses that science predicted 40 years ago would be wiped off the face of the earth…. Experts say our overuse of antibiotics is largely to blame: antibiotics encourage proliferation of drug-resistant bacteria.”  “Even the super germs are vulnerable to the lifesaving coconut derivatives. The unique properties of coconut oil make it, in essence, a natural antibacterial, antiviral, antifungal, and antiprotozoal food.” *emphasis added
  • “By far the best and richest natural sources of lauric acid are coconuts and coconut oil.”  Lauric acid kills lipid-coated microorganisms like HIV, measles, herpes, influenza, leukemia, hepatitis C, staph, and strep, just to name a few.
  • The medium-chain fatty acids (MCFAs) in coconut oil work for our immune system just like they do for newborns from a mother’s breast milk.  MCFAs kill bacteria that causes a multitude of STDs, staph, food poisoning, meningitis, ulcers and sinusitis.  They also defend against parasites that can cause food allergies and chronic fatigue.
  • The vegetable oils that you consume attack your thyroid and make you fat.  Replacing those oils with coconut oil, which adds MCFAs to the mix and increases your metabolism, can actually help you lose weight.
  • “Polynesian women are famed for their beautiful skin and hair, even though they are exposed to the hot blistering sun and chafing of the ocean breeze every day.” Free radicals in our food and environment cause advanced aging to occur, but the antioxidants in coconut oil work to combat that. Coconut oil also protects your skin from germs, acts as a healing agent and is an incredible moisturizer.  I use it as a lotion, as a hair conditioning treatment, and as my sunscreen – it “enables the body to adjust naturally to sun exposure, naturally increasing the body’s tolerable level over time.”
  • Coconut oil is considered a catch-all healing medicine in many countries, helping with digestive issues, nourishment to newborn babies, osteoporosis, chronic fatigue syndrome, cancer, diabetes and liver disease.

So how can you incorporate coconut oil into your diet and routine?  The book recommends 3 1/2 tablespoons daily… you can cook with it (replace any oil with it, same amount), put it in your coffee (if you love lattes, check out this amazing recipe), or use it on your skin.   You’ve got to put this book on your reading list… it’s such an easy read and there is so much more information and case studies that will really amaze you.

Will you give coconut oil a try?  Let me know what you think… I’m hoping you all become just as obsessed as I am!

Source: The Coconut Oil Miracle written by Bruce Fife, C.N., M.D.