Monday, May 25, 2009

You are My Sunshine!!

Through the ages we have looked to it for comfort, support, growth, and even worship. The amazing awe and precision of the sun!! 93 million miles away, with rays traveling at 186,000 miles a second, and part of the earths life- support system.... what is not to be in awe of?! Yet, what is even more amazing is that if the sun was any closer, or any further away, life as we know it would not exist. Talk about absolute precision,and definately not an  accident!!
Sunlight provides the energy required to produce our basic food requirements. Carbohydrates (Whole grains, fruits, vegetables) would not be possible without the sun. 'Carbohydrate, mainly glucose, is made by photosynthesis. The sun's energy becomes part of the glucose molecule- its calories, in a sense. Carbohydrates contain the sun's radiant energy, captured in a form  that living things can use to drive the processes of life. Thus they form the first link in the food chain that supports all life on earth." (Nutrition,Eighth Edition, Concepts and Controversies, Francis Sizer) As we all know, green plants make carbohydrates through the process of photosynthesis. Through this process, plants use the sun, carbon dioxide, and water to form glucose. As we may recall from a previous post, glucose is the human bodies preferred source of energy.
The sun also has a huge impact on our physical bodies.  Our skeletal systems needs the vibrant sunlight, which convert into vitamin D in our bodies, in order to absorb calcium, magnesium, and phosphorus. Calcium is a major player in muscle contraction, heart health ( your heart is a muscle), brain activity- pretty much all electrical activity in the body requires calcium. Calcium, as we all know, is also a major factor in bone health.  Sunlight and weight bearing exercise is critical for good bone health. There are many individuals today suffering from Osteoporosis and Osteomalacia due to vitamin D deficiency. Osteomalacia is muscle weakness, bone sensitivity and pain due to lack of vitamin D and the absorption of calcium in the intestines. When you are deficient in Vitamin D only 10-15% of dietary calcium is absorbed. The sun is considered to be a "super nutrient!" Studies have also shown that Vitamin D has been linked to various other diseases such as breast, colon, lung and prostate cancers. "Vitamin D is one of the most potent hormones to inhibit cell proliferation." (Ibid) Not to mention that a small amount of sunbathing has a positive influence on cholesterol levels (
Today many of us are fearful of the sun's bright rays, slathering ourselves with sunscreen.  While sunscreen is wise, many physicians are recommending 10-20 minutes of sunlight in order to maintain optimum health. Even our mental acuity and moods are influences by the sun. Hormones in  the body are regulates by light exposure. As little as 10 minutes of sun exposure can promote mental well being. Many people suffer from depression in the winter months. Many also wind up on pills that are hard to get off of. Feelings of hopelessness take over. Seattle, WA has a higher suicide rate in the winter months. No sunlight.  This disorder has been called Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD).  If you tend to get down in the dumps during gloomy weather, you may have this disorder. "Relaxing in a room lit at 80% times the brightness of regular indoor lighting for two hours per day can help make your hormonal rythyms more pronounced, decreasing your daytime melatonin secretion. You can gain very quick relief with light therapy if you have SAD" (Prescription Drugs and Their Natural Alternative, Earl Mindell, RPh, PhD and Virgina Hopkins, MA)
Our sun is such an integral part of our total well being. It is important to take the time to enjoy what has been termed, "mellow yellow time." Sunshine on your shoulder can make you very happy, not to mention happy and healthy!! Now- that is no accident!!

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