Existing in a Sunshine State
The Top 3 Health Reasons to Love the SUN!
It may not be December, but for many of us in SWFL, “It’s the most wonderful time of the year!”The car carriers have headed north, our streets are less congested, restaurant lines are nonexistent and there’s finally room to spread out at the beach again! Yes, once again, May has ushered in “un-season” in Florida.
This month, we also celebrate all the Moms out there: Happy Mother’s Day!
Moreover, at month’s end, we’ll take a pause from work and civic duty to honor the men and women who died while serving in the U.S. military on Memorial Day.
May is also Ultraviolet Awareness Month. With that in mind, we thought this was an opportune time to share important health information about the beloved center of our solar system, the SUN.
First and foremost, please protect your eyes when you’re out enjoying the rays! Exposure to UV rays can burn delicate eye tissue and raise the risk of developing cataracts and cancers of the eye. Do your eyes a favor: click here to schedule an appointment so you can learn whether our beautiful Florida sun has negatively affected your eyes throughout the years. The earlier we both learn about any condition that might require treatment, the better we can address your specific need/s.
Now, if you promise to protect your eyes, read on to learn the top 3 GREAT things about being in a SUNSHINE STATE.
Number 1: SUNSHINE ACTIVATES VITAMIN D
Our bodies naturally produce vitamin D when we expose them directly (in healthy doses) to sunshine. In fact, some people call vitamin D “the sunshine vitamin.” Vitamin D, a fat-soluble vitamin in a family of compounds that includes vitamins D-1, D-2, and D-3, influences as many as 2,000 genes in your body!
So, what does vitamin D do for you exactly? A lot!
Its principal roles are that of regulating the absorption of calcium and phosphorous. According to Professor Michael Holick, of Boston University School of Medicine and author of The UV Advantage, “We get about 90 to 95 per cent of our vitamin D from the sun. It is essential for absorbing calcium, keeping our bones healthy, and for protecting against serious chronic diseases later in life such as osteoporosis, Type II diabetes, multiple sclerosis and many common cancers.”
To boost vitamin D levels, some experts recommend we get 5 to 15 minutes of sun exposure per day, at least three times a week. Luckily here in Florida, that’s not hard to do! Just, please, do so while wearing a quality pair of UV-blocking sunglasses!
Number 2: SUNSHINE FIGHTS DEPRESSION
Our body’s natural “happy hormone” is serotonin, and serotonin’s best booster is —you guessed it— pure sunshine. Especially when combined with moderate exercise such as a walk around the block, sun exposure can relieve mild cases of depression! Serotonin in larger quantities can also help suppress our appetite which may result in less feelings of regret about overeating. Additionally, it seems that more endorphins (groupings of peptide hormones that bind to opiate receptors in the brain which reduce the sensation of pain and positively affect emotions) are released when we exercise outdoors as opposed to indoors.
Number 3: SUNSHINE BOOSTS YOUR IMMUNE SYSTEM
Sunshine naturally encourages the production of white blood cells, which help to boost your immune system and fight infection. According to some researchers, sunlight exposure seems to rev up T cell production and activity throughout our bodies. A more scientific term for T cell is “T lymphocyte” which refers to a particular subtype of white blood cell that plays a central role in cell-mediated immunity.
T cells are like our bodies’ little soldiers that work around the clock to seek out pathogens and attack them. When they’re revved up and moving freely, they can do a better job fighting infections and even some types of cancer.
In summary, this month, please be aware of UV rays, both their negative and positive attributes! Get out there and let your skin (but please, not your eyes) soak up some sun, but don’t overdo it!