the secret benefits of sunshine

The Secret Benefits of Sunshine

Bring on the summer!

… Or should that be bring back the summer?

We all love a bit of sunshine, don’t we?  And there’s nothing better than feeling the sun’s warmth on our skin, soaking up those glorious rays, and enjoying that ‘sun kissed’ healthy glow.

We’re often warned about the dangers of too much sun – and rightly so – excessive exposure to UV rays is a major cause of premature skin ageing, reducing elasticity and firmness and causing crinkles, wrinkles and pigmentation. And then of course there are the more sinister issues of burning and skin cancer.

Let’s talk about those rays:

UVB – these rays cause sunburn and can alter the skin’s DNA.

UVA – these rays cause ageing in the form of dark spots, wrinkles and flaccidity, UVA rays can also cause allergies.

UR-infrared – A – generates free radicals, produces oxidative damage and causes premature ageing.

Eeep! All things considered, it’s not surprised that most of us have a rather xxx relationship with the sun, wanting to feel it’s warm, welcoming presence in our lives, but fearing it also.

But here’s the thing, the ‘right’ amount of sunshine is not just beneficial but essential to our health! Read on to discover the healing benefits of our closest star. And how the sunshine helps you to feel happy, healthy and healed! 

Sunshine = Happy

Yes! We often talk about feeling happier and more relaxed when it’s sunshiny, why else would we flock to warmer climes for a bigger, brighter dose? And the science supports this mood-lifting attitude. Exposure to sunshine kickstarts the brain’s release of serotonin. Known as the ‘happy hormone’ serotonin helps us to feel calm, relaxed and content. Low levels of serotonin have been linked to anxiety, depression and a higher risk of developing seasonal affective disorder. Boo!

We’re off to a good start… but wait! There’s more!

Sunshine = Healthy

Just 5-15 minutes in the sun is enough to top up your vitamin D levels. Get three doses a week and you’re on the right road to better bone density – something that’s really important for young children and older menopausal or perimenopausal women.

Lower levels of vitamin D have been linked to health problems such as rickets in children and osteoporosis.

Most of us know about the link between excessive sun exposure and cancer, but did you know that a moderate amount of sunlight can actually help to prevent certain cancers! It’s true, studies have shown that people who live in places where there are less hours of sunlight are more at risk of developing certain types of cancer than those who live in a sunnier climate

And remember – sunny doesn’t always mean warm so don’t go packing your case for the Bahamas just yet (sorry).

Sunshine = Healed

Sunshine can also be a tonic for all sorts of skin disorders, ever noticed an easing of your eczema or psoriasis during the summer? According to the World Health Organisation getting a little sunshine on your skin can help ease the symptoms of skin conditions like:

  • Eczema
  • Psoriasis
  • Acne
  • Jaundice

So how much is enough? And how much is too much? Well researchers disagree on what the optimum amount of safe sunshine is, and of course there are other factors to take into account such as age, skin tone and the temperature of the suns warmth.

Most agree though that between 5-5 minutes without suncream (which will prevent the suns rays from penetrating your skin) is about right.

After this time you should be lotioning up!

Get sunscreen savvy

Choose the right suncream for your skin type and make sure it’s an independently tested brand. Speaking of brands, big brands don’t always equal better protection, in fact certain sun creams from Nivea and Garnier Ambre Solaire recently failed tests carried out by researchers at Which.

Read about the Which suncream research here.

Always check the use-by date on your suncream and make sure you apply enough of it! The British Association of Dermatologists advises it takes at least 6 full teaspoons to cover an average adult properly. Applying only half this amount can reduce the protection by as much as two thirds (over half!). So don’t scrimp on sunscreen in an attempt to be frugal, use what you need so you know you’re protected.

Be strict in re-applying your sunscreen regularly, and cover up as much as possible, especially when surrounded by snow or water. Snow can intensify sun radiation by up to 85%, water by up to 17% and sand by up to 5% and this reflected UV can lead to serious skin damage if unprotected.

When it comes to suncream, it pays to spend a little time researching your options before investing in the best protection – your skin will thank you for it!

So there you have it, get out there and enjoy that sunshine safely!




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