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Sunlight (UPDATED)

“Then God made two great lights: the greater light to rule the day, and the lesser light to rule the night. He made the stars also.” Genesis 1:16

Is it purely co-incidence that sunlight feels so good on our skin? No. Sunlight is very good for humans - in the correct amounts.

Many people think sunlight is aging to the skin. But eating mostly whole plant foods (foods grown in the soil, mostly unprocessed, organic is preferred) and avoiding overexposure to sunlight, keeps the skin soft and flexible and gives it a healthy glow.

Did you know we need sunlight on our skin to produce vitamin D? Many people have heard about vitamin D, but don't realise the incredible mechanism God built into our bodies. Vitamin D is made from a waxy, fatty substance called cholesterol. But Vitamin D can ONLY be made by the body when the skin is exposed to the sun.

So exposing the skin repeatedly (and carefully) to sunlight draws a tiny amount of cholesterol out of the blood into the skin to create vitamin D and this is one way God built into our systems for cholesterol levels to be balanced in our blood. 

Since we first wrote our healthy lifestyle books in the 1990's, the research around what is healthy cholesterol and what is an unhealthy cholesterol has changed so much, and whether cholesterol is THE major factor in heart disease has also changed.

But we can be sure that sunlight is vital for our human bodies. Sunlight has been a healer of a wide range of human illness for thousands of years.

There are many lifestyle habits and circumstances (such as good versus bad sun screen creams) to take into consideration, but sunlight in general, and in moderation, is healthy.

Here are some well researched advantages of sunlight, these are also part of having good levels of Vitamin D in the body:

  • Sunlight kills bacteria on the skin, in the air and in water, and can kill potentially pathogenic bacteria through glass! That’s why drying clothes and laundry in the sunshine is far superior to using an electric clothes drier;
  • Sunlight increases the number of white blood cells in the blood and increases their efficiency in killing germs and cancer cells;
  • Sunlight lowers the blood sugar levels;
  • Sunlght stimulates the liver in its work of detoxifying poisonous substances in the blood;
  • Sunlight strengthens muscles;
  • Sunlight reduces stress;
  • Sunlight promotes sleep;
  • Sunlight aids the regulation of hormone production.

 Do you know of one medicine which can achieve so much?

We can compare the healing properties of the sun with the healing which the Son of God brings to the whole person - mentally, physically and spiritually:

“To you who fear My name the Sun of Righteousness shall arise with healing in His wings.” Malachi 4:2

As we enjoy the healing effects of the sun, we can reflect on the great love God has for each and every human being:

“‘But I say to you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you. do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you, that you may be sons of your Father in heaven; for He makes His sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust.’” Matthew 5:44-45

To get the most out of the sun’s healing rays, we need to know how much sun we need and when to get it.

For the best vitamin D intake, we need sunlight every day.

“That can’t be true,” you say, “what about skin cancer?”Because of the risk of skin cancer, many people shun sunbathing entirely. 

Instead of blaming the sun, we need to:

  • make a careful assessment of the types of oils and fats we eat (see below) and,
  • understand that glyphosate in food, or used as part of our work, can raise the risk of skin cancer and;
  • know that being freuently stressed or anxious is a factor in all disease including skin cancer and;
  • avoid overexposure to the sun and;
  • learn healthy ways to avoid overexposure (HINT: sunscreen may not be the best way to avoid overexposure.)  

How much sun is needed every day? This has changed over the years too. We used to say to sunbathe when your shadow is longer than your height - the danger of overexposure to the sun's rays are lessened then.

We used to suggest, to start in the summer sun, when your shadow is longer than your height, with about two minutes on each side - that's two minutes sunlight on your front, two minutes on your back, two minutes on your left side and two minutes on your right side. And build up to about 15-20 minutes in total.

However, latest advice from the Vitamin D Council says that research shows that the more angled the sun is to your body, the less your body is able to produce vitamin D. The Council advises about 15 minutes a day if you have fair skin, all the way to approximately 2 hours a day if you have black hair and very dark brown eyes.

Never sunburn - this increases the risk of skin cancer. In 1995 the State of the Public Health in New Zealand stated: “A recent survey of sun exposure, sunburn and sun protection found that on any sunny weekend in summer, three out of four adult New Zealanders are out in the sun for relatively long periods of time. One in five of these exposed adults will get sunburned.” The State of the Public Health in NZ 1995, p172

Even on a moderately overcast day about 80% of the sun’s ultra violet rays get through to the earth. So we can still be assured of getting enough sun for good health. In fact, if we wear light coloured, loosely woven clothing, such as cotton, the rays can reach through to our skin. At the beach, where sand reflects about 17% of the ultra violet rays, it is safer to be clothed than to risk sunburn.

But an overdose of sunlight is not the only factor in skin cancer. 

1. Very recent research (July 2018) shows that frequently eating food high in polyunsaturated fats and omega 6 fats is an increased risk for the three main types of skin cancer - melanoma, squamous cell carcinoma (SCC) and basal cell carcinoma (BCC). While there are many healthful sources of polyunsaturated fats, it is safe to say that any oil on the shelf of any store which is in a clear bottle and a golden colour means that oil has been highly processed, contains little if any nutrition at all, and contains too many omega 6 fatty acids for the human body to safely handle. Much safer to eat a small handful of walnuts with a better balance of Omega 6 to Omega 3 fatty acids, and is a wholefood with fibre and other goodness. Also, realise that these oils frequently are the major ingredient in varnish. That's right, thoe brown burnt on oil slicks on your electrical appliances have transformed into varnish!

You can read the study about skin cancer here:

2. Once again recent research, this time from Moscow University, is investigating how a common chemical ingredient in sun screen creams can break down in the presence of moisture from perspiration or sea or pool water into cancer causing chemicals. You can read about the study here:

There are other factors about sunlight, which are developing, for instance mainstream media says the sun is going to get hotter with global warming, but many scientists disagree with this stance. Another school of thought is that the earth is going to cool and there will be less sunlight. So, I encourage you to enjoy the sunlight whenever you can, after all, think of all the benefits of spending sunlight time!