Health Benefits of Sunshine for People With Diabetes

“Light is the basic component from which all life originates, evolves, and is energized. Light and health are inseparable.” ~ Ken Ceder, former co-director Hippocrates Health Institute, Boston, Mass.

May was declared National Sunshine Month by GrassrootsHealth, a nonprofit public health research organization. Their goal is to spread an awareness of the importance of sunshine for human well being.

GrassrootsHealth believes a lack of sunlight puts us at high risk for many health problems including diabetes, certain cancers, and heart disease.

“Advice from some within the medical community, and even our own government, encouraging Americans to avoid the sun is an immense threat to human health,” says Carole Baggerly, Director of GrassrootsHealth. “We expect National Sunshine Month will raise awareness of the sunshine, its many health benefits and ways to take advantage of it.”

Sunshine and Diabetes

Some of the health benefits of sunlight are especially significant for those with diabetes:

  • Vitamin D from sun exposure increases the body’s manufacture of antimicrobials that can annihilate the cell walls of bacteria and viruses, and stimulates the production of infection destroying white blood cells.
  • Research studies have found a link between vitamin D deficiency and an accumulation of abdominal fat that puts people at higher risk for insulin resistance.
  • Nitric oxide is released into our system when sunlight touches the skin. It’s an effective blood pressure lowering substance that reduces our risk for heart attack or stroke. Oral vitamin D supplements do not increase nitric oxide.
  • The skin condition psoriasis is almost twice as common among diabetics as non-diabetics, and those who have psoriasis tend to have low vitamin D levels.
  • Exposure to sunlight stimulates the release of our brain’s feel-good neurotransmitter serotonin. Increased serotonin may help mitigate the depression some people with diabetes experience.

What About My Skin?

Considering the many advantages that sunlight provides more than one scientist has concluded that sun exposure is necessary for a healthy life—despite the risk of skin cancer.

Dr. Richard Weller, for instance, in a paper on sunlight’s cardiovascular benefits wrote, “All-cause mortality [death from any cause] should be the primary determinant of public health messages. Sunlight is a risk factor for skin cancer, but sun avoidance may carry more of a cost than benefit for overall good health.”

Research completed in 2013 validates Weller’s statement. The study found our risk of dying from heart disease or stroke owed to high blood pressure is - on average - 80 times greater than our risk of dying from skin cancer.

Safety and Sun

The sensible thing, then, for those who agree with the proponents of sunshine, is to minimize our risk of skin cancer while reaping benefit from the sun’s rays:

  • Know your skin type; the lighter your skin, the less exposure to the sun’s UV light is required.
  • Avoid overexposure to UV rays from both direct sunlight and tanning beds or lamps.
  • Always take precautions to avoid sunburn. Be especially cautious on your first sun exposure of the season when your skin is the most sensitive.

“The sun is the orchestra leader for the dance of life. Every living thing on earth vibrates to the energy of the sun, including people.” ~ Barbara Minton, natural health editor.

Sources: PR Newswire; Mercola; TS Fitness
Photo credit: Cristiano Betta

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