Skin, Sunshine and Sunscreen – by Dr Arien van der Merwe

We were designed to flourish under the sun! However, excessive sunburn and overexposure to the sun without protecting our skin, could damage our DNA. It also causes photo ageing. That means it breaks down the elastin and collagen fibres that support the skin, causing wrinkles and premature ageing. That’s why so many sun worshipers look older than their biological age!

No need to fear the sun, though. The sun’s rays have tremendous health benefits. Sunlight exposure in the right way at the right time, will ensure these benefits for your optimal health and wellbeing.

We only make vitamin D with sufficient sun exposure. Sunlight signals the brain to produce the rest, recovery and replenishing hormone, melatonin at night. This helps you sleep deeply, while your cortisol levels decline during this deep rest period, a sure sign you’re sleeping well, fully recovered by morning, energised and ready to go!
The sun can also help relieve mild depression and elevate your mood. Sunlight activates the pineal gland and therefore the endocannabinoid system and releases the feel-good hormones serotonin and endorphins.

Recent British studies reported that the sun helps to lower blood pressure. Sunlight releases nitric oxide which dilates the blood vessels, increases blood flow and reduces the risk of strokes and heart attacks.
Studies show that people who get 15-30 minutes of sun a few times a week, reduce their risk of breast, prostate, colon, lung and ovarian cancer.

More benefits of sunlight:
Relief from asthma symptoms
Alleviating skin problems like psoriasis, acne and eczema
Reducing the risk of rheumatoid arthritis
Lessening symptoms of Alzheimer’s
Have some sunshine and promote longevity

Get your sun exposure 30 minutes in the morning, not later than 1 hour after sunrise, and/or in the afternoon, not earlier than 1 hour before sunset.
If you do go out into the sun at other times, protect yourself naturally, and don’t stay out there too long. Most health benefits of the sun require only 15-20 minutes a few times per week.
Be careful with sunscreens, though. Many commercial sunscreens contain cancer-causing agents. The heat from the sun interacts with the chemicals, making them even more toxic. Many sunscreens contain PABA which causes DNA damage. So look out for PABA – it truly accelerates ageing. Some sunscreens also form a thick layer, block the skin and prevent effective synthesis of vitamin D.

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