18th April 2017
So, is the sun bad for us?
Absolutely, in countries where it is so hot that the locals choose to sit in the shade, and we, speaking for myself as an English person, a white Caucasian, are foolish enough to go out in it. “Mad dogs and Englishmen go out in the noonday sun” Rudyard Kipling’s description of the crazy behaviour of the British colonials, who didn’t opt for the shade as the locals did, and the only others who stayed out at noon when it was too hot for people to be out. It’s still the same, many Brits go to hotter climes to experience the sun that they feel so deprived of, because they don’t spend enough time outside.
But in this country of ours, where the sun is so gentle by the time it reaches the ground, that we have virtually no natural protection, because we are so desperate to get every ray on our pale skin, we should be jumping over each other to get into it!
Even time spent in hazy sunshine is advantageous, and prepares our skin to cope with the hotter sun in the summer. When I go out and cycle in March and April, my skin gets accustomed to the sunshine gradually, and by the time summer has arrived, I am brown enough to be protected from the harmful rays, but still pale enough to benefit from the light that my body gains enormously from. I build up a store of vitamin D that lasts me all winter until the next Spring. I can tell by the way I feel that I need more time outside. I can also tell when it’s too hot and I’ve had enough. I need to cover up so my skin isn’t damaged. This is how we need to behave to stay safe, have ways to regulate the amount of sun we receive.
Those who live in countries where the sun is too strong for optimal health have a dark melanin layer to protect them. We can all produce this to an extent, but depending on where we grow up, compared with the skin our parents passed on to us, we may not be getting enough sunlight for our best health. Sunshine is really important for protecting against cancer, bone strength, and psychological health, among other very important mechanisms.
And no, I wouldn’t dream of putting sun screen on my skin. Have you read the ingredients list?
Written today, on first sight of the sun and a pale Englishman walking home from work with a wide-brimmed hat on in April, with long-sleeved shirt and trousers. It’s only 11 degrees!
Books for supporting all your life choices to stay well and never be ill, including breathing, raw food, breastfeeding, alternatives to vaccinations, and a new ojne on the impact of colour.