For centuries, the sun was revered as the creator of life. Our ancestors believed that the absence of sunlight made things worse and brought suffering. So, they would try to make the most of the sunlight and its healing properties. With time, we lost this connection with the sun. Then, there came a time when we started shying away from the sun because we found out that it could cause premature aging and skin cancer.
After decades of completely shunning sunlight, people now realize the importance of sunlight once again. With vitamin D deficiency increasingly becoming a major public health concern globally, people are being pushed to become friends with the sun once again. According to an estimate, about 50% of the world population has vitamin D insufficiency, and about 1 billion people have vitamin D deficiency.
While the sun is man’s primary source of vitamin D, it is not the only thing that this star has to offer.
The Healing Power of the Sun – Top 5 Health Benefits
Humans have believed in and used the healing power of sunlight since ancient times. However, in the modern-day world, many are unaware of the various ways sunlight can help improve our health. To raise awareness and help people realize the importance of sunlight, here we are highlighting some of the benefits of sunlight for human health:
1. It Elevates Mood and Improves Mental Health
It has been found that sunlight is one of the factors stimulating the release of serotonin, the hormone known for its mood-boosting effects. Research shows that decreased exposure to sunlight can lead to reduced serotonin levels, which can then affect mood and lead to Seasonal Affective Disorder (a type of depression triggered by changing seasons).
2. It Helps Fix Sleep Cycle and Improves Sleep Quality
This benefit may sound strange at first if you don’t know how our internal clock works. Sunlight exposure during the day, especially in the early morning, can help you sleep better at night by regulating melatonin production. Melatonin, also known as the sleep hormone, helps maintain a normal circadian rhythm, improves sleep quality, as well as helps lower our stress reactivity.
3. Strengthens and Regulates Immune System
Sunlight helps stimulate the production of white blood cells in our body, helping protect our body from infections and diseases. On the flip side, sunlight can also help suppress an overactive immune system. Due to this property, light therapy is used as part of treatment for certain autoimmune skin diseases.
4. It Helps Heal Some Skin Conditions
While too much sun exposure leads to skin problems, a moderate amount of sunlight can heal some skin conditions. According to the World Health Organization, UVA rays can help improve psoriasis, lupus vulgaris, and vitiligo.
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5. It Lowers Blood Pressure
According to an estimate, 26% of the world’s population, i.e., about 972 million people have hypertension, and the percentage is expected to increase to 29% by 2025. The widespread prevalence of hypertension and its association with other serious health complications, in particular heart disease, makes it a major public health concern. While there are many effective medicines available for treating hypertension, they cause several side effects. However, it seems we are close to finding a natural cure for high blood pressure.
A research study conducted by scientists from the University of Edinburgh found that sunlight can help lower our blood pressure by stimulating the release of nitric oxide into the blood vessels. The nitrogen compound relaxes the blood vessels, which then lowers blood pressure.
A Word of Caution!
Scientists have continuously been uncovering the benefits of sunlight for human health. This has led many to believe that the benefits of sun exposure far outweigh its disadvantages or the health risks it poses.
While there are no two views about the benefits of sunlight, healthcare experts strongly recommend limiting sun exposure to 10 to 30 minutes, at max. They also recommend getting morning sun to gain the maximum benefits and limit the risks. Too much sun exposure can do more harm to you than good, so do not go overboard.