What do you believe to be the foundation of your health? Is it food? Is it sleep? Exercise? Reduce stress? Medication?
Have you ever thought maybe the light environment, which underpins all these pillars, could be the foundation for good health? After-all the whole food web is based on photosynthesis.
I’m not saying the other pillars of health are not important but light is something that we rarely give a thought too and it could be having a profound positive or negative effect on your health.
We have evolved under the sun. We rotate around the sun every 365 days and spin on a 24-hour cycle. Summer, winter, light, dark, hot and cold; and these cycles have a profound effect on us and our health. We have evolved as humans to be part of this cycle.
Unfortunately, our modern world breaks these laws of nature. We don’t truly experience the sun, or true darkness, winter, or even hot and particularly cold. We have moved indoors with our artificial blue lit world and temperature control environment.
The light spectrum
We live in an ocean of light but us humans can only see 0.0035% of the light of our sun, being red, orange, yellow, green blue, purple and indigo. We are also surrounded by radio waves, microwaves, infrared, ultraviolet (UVA and UVB). Our atmosphere protects us from the UVC, xrays and gamma rays.
Sunlight is made up of waves of energy or vibrations and photons which come into our body through our eyes, skin, gut, lungs and food, providing us with information our body uses to make decisions on!
The sunlight goes directly through the retina in our eyes, with the help of the omega fatty acid DHA from seafood, into our brain, to our internal clock (SNA) in the Hypothalamus. So we know when to sleep, when to wake, when to build hormones, when to digest our food, when to stop digesting our food, when to repair, when to kill off those malfunctioning cells etc etc.
The UVB part of the spectrum also interacts with LDL cholesterol in our skin and makes solar vitamin D to build our immune system, bones and protect us from cancer. Your eyes and skin act as solar panels.
Back to nature
What if our only experience of light and nature is when we are covered with clothes, sunglasses, hats, sunscreen, and shoes? How would that affect our health?
If we planted a lemon tree and fed it the best nutrients, gave it plenty of water and attention but then put a tarp over it to protect it from the sun. How would that lemon tree fair? You may get some lemons but would that tree thrive and what would be the quality of those lemons? Would that tree live it’s best life. We are no different to this lemon tree just more complex.
Mitochondria (our energy bank in our cells)
Did you know that our mitochondria take information or energy from the sun? They are the powerhouse of the cell, produce the energy that gets us moving.
This information from the sun is sent to our mitochondria who perform many important functions including, converting food electrons and light frequencies to energy the body can use, making hormones, producing water, CO2 and even infrared light. The mitochondria also provide instruction to our DNA, this is called epi-genetics. Our environment is controlling our genetics!
Melatonin and sleep
Melatonin is also part of this story. The morning sunlight sets our melatonin commonly known as our sleep hormone, but activates in darkness, after sunset, when we have finished digesting our food. Melatonin along with our mitochondria have a very important job to keep us healthy during sleep.
When we are in our deepest sleep, melatonin and the mitochondria run two processes. One is call autophagy, or the process of repairing and recycling old proteins, cells and organelles. The second process is apoptosis or the process of killing off old cells that have malfunctioned. If these processes don’t take place because we don’t have enough melatonin because we never saw the morning sun or our mitochondria just don’t get the message you are now aging faster than you should. You never repair yourself during sleep.
Artificial blue light
To add injury to insult we spend our days in front of artificially blue lit computers, phones, and ceiling lights, surrounded by wifi. Blue light is part of the light spectrum but in nature comes with all the other colours. Our brain perceives blue light as solar noon, it suppresses melatonin as we should be fully alert at this time.
Think now what our phone, computer or LED/ florescent ceiling lights are doing to our melatonin after dark. What does melatonin do, it activates after dark, helps us sleep and allows us to repair ourselves. But if our brain thinks it’s solar noon all the time, do we ever repair ourselves.
Did you also know that there have been studies showing that artificial blue light can also increase our blood sugar and therefore insulin. Something worth taking note for those struggling with insulin resistance.
All the pillars of health are important, good quality food, quality sleep and movement but for these pillars to work with the cycles of nature we must look at our light environment. Remember food is part of the sunlight story. Highly processed foods and industrial vegetable and seed oils are not.
Go and see the sunrise everyday, with your bare feet, eyes and skin! And if you can, eat outside but also remember to use the sun wisely.