Here I am yesterday, a balmy 65 degrees laying in my front yard (It’s been a long winter here ya know. I will take what I can get).
I am getting a dose of UVB/UVA rays to make some Vitamin D.
Along with food in my pursuit for health awesomeness, I have also been very interested in learning what environmental factors make us tick. One thing I had avoided like the plague most of my life thus far was sun because it was, “Going to give you melanoma, massive wrinkles, and nasty spots.” Yeah, no thanks.
Also, in my younger years when I ate the typical American diet of pop, doritos, pizza, taco bell, and school lunches, if I spent too much time in the sun even with sunscreen I would develop sun poisoning. This was a horrid, itchy rash that would hurt if I scratched it, but would itch like nothing I have experienced if I didn’t. It could get nasty. I had somewhat of an allergic reaction to the sun, if you will. Also being pale, I hated getting sunburn, so I did not want to spend too much time in it anyways.
Because of my diligent caution and slathering of the sunscreen, I have not had too many sunburns in my time. But I always wondered, “How could it be so bad for us? Shouldn’t something so fundamental to nature be helpful to us?”
My wheels really got turning Labor Day weekend last year. My husband and I went to Arizona for a camping trip. My brother-in-law, his wife, and another couple who are friends of ours joined for the adventure in the mountains. It was still pretty warm, 80-90 degrees, and even in the mountains in was at least 80-85. The sun was blasting us the entire weekend, and being at high altitudes, you are going to get more UVA/UVB exposure. We all wore the same exact sunscreen, and were diligent about putting it on. Now, I am very pale, and do not have a tan at this point (or ever for that matter). My sister in law is darker complected, and our other girlfriend is fair like me. Again, we all did the same exact thing with the sunscreen, and were wearing t-shirts and shorts. At the end of the weekend though, I was surprised to notice that although I was outside in the sun ( with hardly any shade) for two days, I had no burning, and hardly any color. The other two girls, on the other hand, looked like lobsters. Seriously, lobsters. My sister-in-law asked, “How did you not get burned? You are lighter than all of us and probably put on the least sunscreen!” FACT. But hmmm, yeah that is a great question.
Here is where it all comes full circle… Since I have been eating a predominantly paleo/primal diet, I realized I have not gotten one sunburn. Not one. So I decided to become a little more liberal with it as an experiment. I started going outside without sunscreen…. I would lay out for 20 minutes after work (10 minutes each side) in order to get some Vitamin D after being inside all day. I got like no color or tan lines, but I did get enough sun to produce me some good Vitamin D.
Now I haven’t spent more than 30-40 minutes in the sun without sunscreen. I know if I am going to be out there for longer than that, I do put it on or else I am afraid despite my new superpowers, I would probably get a little burned. It’s about a balance.
So why would my diet influence this? It turns out you can eat your way to having your body make, “Built in sunscreen.” One of my favorite blogs is Mark’s Daily Apple. Here is one of his posts on it: http://www.marksdailyapple.com/8-natural-ways-to-prevent-a-sunburn-and-sunscreens-not-one-of-them/#axzz2yaltaYxo
With my nutrient-rich diet, my body is doing things as it should including protecting me from *too much* sun.
The fact is people we need sun exposure, but research is showing you do not need more than 15-20 min a day of direct sunlight. You will be better equipped for the outdoors if you eat real food, and particularly for me a primal diet has been a winner, because when I ate grains I could easily burn still. So maybe try it for yourself and see how it works…
*Easily would burn, sunscreen or not
*Could not be in direct sunlight for long
*Do not burn easily/at all (I am moving to Southern California in 2 weeks and want to learn how to surf, so my skin will really be put to the test!)
*NO sun poisoning!
*Can tolerate being outside in the sun for long periods of time.
There are so many reasons why the sun and Vitamin D is important. I will write more about this another time, but alas it is for another time.
So, anyways, I am excited about this new development in my well-being and wanted to share. Thanks for reading!