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Principle Of Health – Sunshine

Written by: Kasia Dabrow-Kielan, Executive Contributor

Executive Contributors at Brainz Magazine are handpicked and invited to contribute because of their knowledge and valuable insight within their area of expertise.

 

In my previous articles on the principles of health we covered air and water. If you haven’t read them, I strongly encourage you to go back and do so. In this article, I wish to continue onto the next principle of health Sunshine so let’s dive straight in.

Not sure about you, but I feel the campaign's advertising to “avoid the sun” really scares individuals with commercials on television and the radio advertising one thing – the sun is our enemy! Despite this, as a teenager, I didn’t develop a fear of the sun and spent heaps of time on the beach soaking up the sunshine, and it was my favourite place to unwind and relax! It still is! I love spending lazy summer days on the beach. Sunlight actually gets a lot of bad press. However, sunshine being the bad guy is far from the truth! If we look into this deeper and actually “study the studies,” the truth seems to be a different story. The fear has been driven way too far, according to experts in the field, and I tend to agree. Here is my take on it.


The sun is the source of a vital nutrient for human health known as Vitamin D, which is not easily obtained from other sources. The role of Vitamin D is in the absorption and use of calcium and phosphorus, as well as being essential for our bones, teeth, cartilage, and immunity. This is the point that the sun campaigns should be promoting and not what they advertise currently, which is to avoid the sun entirely. Sun exposure is fundamental to our health and indispensable to our wellbeing. In my humble opinion, the campaigns have been successful at one thing, reducing the occurrence of sunburns, which is great. However, they have been too successful and fed the fear of the sun into our population without outlining any positive aspects of exposure to sunlight.


In a country like Australia, where we are drenched by the sun, our population is seeing issues like bone and other diseases related specifically to low sun exposure. There is also a relationship between inadequate sun exposure and autoimmune diseases, one of them being Type 1 diabetes because Vitamin D also influences insulin production. Vitamin D is important not only for our bones but for a healthy heart and a healthy immune system and its defenses against cancer! That’s right, and please read this again.


A healthy daily recommendation of sun exposure is approximately 30 minutes (depending on your skin colour) which will keep your Vitamin D at a high level. If you don’t know what your Vitamin D levels are, best to have a blood test and see your results. Just be mindful that the average or the “normal” levels (at least the way they are done in Australia) are compared to a population that is lacking Vitamin D, so please do not be fooled if you hear that your levels are in the norm – sadly most of our population is lacking Vitamin D. Therefore, this low norm is the new baseline norm, and not necessarily be the right level which you should be at.

So while soaking up the morning or the late afternoon sun, try to go sunscreen free. Why? In Australia, we have been conditioned to put on sunscreen each time we step out with the “slip slop slap” campaign engrained into our education, sport, and advertising since we were kids – but what are we actually doing by applying sunscreen before we even expose ourselves to the sun? When you are sunscreen free, you are absorbing the nutrients from the UVB radiation, but if you block it, you do not get any benefit from the sun. Sunscreen reduces the capacity of the skin to produce Vitamin D by over 95%, and an SPF15 sunscreen reduces the capacity by over 98% this is crazy! The way I see it, rather than putting on sunscreen, chemical-laden containing carcinogens commonly found in big brand products, and baking your skin with the chemicals (literally baking in the sun), why not switch to healthy plant-based oils that have naturally occurring SPF’s (Sun Protection Factors) such as Red Raspberry Seed Oil (SPF 28), Carrot Seed Oil (SPF 38), Wheat Germ Oil (SPF 20) and common plant oils like raw Coconut, Almond and Olive Oil (up to SPF 8) and apply them to avoid getting burned after giving your body a chance to absorb the sunlight beforehand.


As mentioned before, responsible, regular exposure to sunlight is a key form of self-care that should not be overlooked. Be sensible to avoid burning, so perhaps choose the best time of the day you wish to go without any sun protection, but do allow your skin to adapt by exposing yourself to direct sun. There is no need to sunbake as such either, and it can be as easy as sitting and soaking up the sun in the morning with your hat and sunglasses off, in the park at lunchtime, or even while gardening. When I worked in the hospital, a building with little sunlight available to us, each lunch break, I forced myself to sit outdoor, on the grass area and eat my lunch, and as the hospital was near a beach, I was lucky enough to take many walks to the beach and back. This meant I was walking, getting movement in the fresh air, and getting sunlight every day, which was crucial for my health. In addition, this meant I came back refreshed after my lunch break and was ready to continue with my working day.


Those with fair skin take longer to build up a tan and their Vitamin D storage. As you gradually build up your sun exposure, your skin will be able to tolerate more sunshine without burning; I have seen this on my husband firsthand, whom I encouraged to do so over one of our summers. He has a tendency to burn due to his fair skin type. He used to be hesitant to go anywhere without covering up (sunglasses and sunscreen).


While we lived (kids free) by the beach, day by day, slow exposure to the sun meant his skin was adjusting to it, and he enjoyed the long days of summer without any sunburn! Gradually you can build this up and at the same time, gain some of the benefits and vitamins that all contribute to your health, for strong immunity, better mood, and a healthy, happy lifestyle.


Finally, after sun exposure, use a nourishing plant-based moisturiser like natural Shea or Mango Butter to rehydrate and nourish your skin and maintains suppleness. Be sun smart, but please, do enjoy the sun’s rays.


Now, please note, and I will repeat myself here, I am not saying go and get burned, be sun smart, or mind your sun exposure during peak UV hours, especially in Australia where the “hole in the ozone layer” doesn’t filter UV rays as effectively, but in addition, be mindful of getting more natural light wherever possible so train outside over an indoor gym or take a walk over lunch breaks. As mentioned before, I have done so for many years while working here in Melbourne and even in rainy London. Consciously, I walked outside during all months of the year, over lunch breaks, and I never let the weather scare me off from walking and moving my body in daylight. Keep in mind natural light is so much more than just Vitamin D. Natural light also helps with promoting healthy hormones, improves your mood, lowers cholesterol, blood pressure, and blood glucose, improves oxygenation, decreases lactic acid, makes dopamine, melatonin, and serotonin and improves gut tight junctions. So many benefits! So, there should be no excuses for us not to get out and enjoy another Mother Nature’s gift, which is sunshine. It is available to us for a reason, and I encourage everyone to be sun smart but enjoy the sunrays and the benefits it provides us with. With that in mind, I am getting super excited to know that winter here in Melbourne is halfway through, and we will get to enjoy the sunshine and long days very soon! Here is to another long, hot summer and another season to build that tan!


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Kasia Dabrow-Kielan, Executive Contributor Brainz Magazine

Kasia Dabrow-Kielan worked as a Social Worker for almost 15 years and completed her Bachelor of Psychology and Social Work. Kasia's passion is to work with others and she is equipped with skills to enhance the well-being of her clients. She worked in various fields of Social Work in Australia and the United Kingdom. Kasia's personal experiences and life challenges made Kasia change her lifestyle and now has dedicated her life to helping others do the same, outside of Social Work. Kasia has passionately created her own brand Consciously Healthy, which the name speaks for itself. Kasia has become a Health Coach and studied Iridology in Bali. She offers Iridology, Sclerology, health consulting, 1 on 1 Health Coaching, and detox online programs. Kasia's hunger for knowledge does not rest and is keen to pursue further studies.

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