Five Health Benefits of Sunshine

In the summer months, the North Pole tilts toward the sun, which means the Earth’s northern hemisphere gets its most direct sunlight exposure of the year.  Here are five ways spending time in the sunshine this summer can improve your health!

  1. Sunshine increases your Vitamin D.

Ok, the name “Vitamin D” is a misnomer, because it isn’t actually a vitamin.  It’s a hormone that’s synthesized when your skin is exposed to sunlight, or when you ingest Vitamin D in your diet. Vitamin D contributes to your skin and bone health.  It also decreases inflammation and boosts your mood. You need 15 minutes of sun exposure three times a week to get adequate levels of Vitamin D.

  1. Sunshine decreases depression.

Millions of people suffer from Seasonal Affective Disorder every year because they’re not exposed to enough sunlight.  When you spend time outdoors, natural light hits your retina and triggers your brain to produce neurotransmitters like serotonin that protect from depression.  

  1. Sunshine decreases your risk of getting sick.

When you spend time outdoors in the summer months, you lower your risk of contracting a contagious illness.  This happens for two reasons. First, when you’re outside you breathe fresh air. One of the reasons people get more colds and flu during the fall and winter months is because they spend more time indoors, breathing the same air as people who are coughing and sneezing.  

The second reason you’re less likely to get sick in the summer is because sunshine boosts your body’s production of T cells, a vital component of your immune system.

  1. Sunshine promotes weight loss.

Many people arrive at a healthier weight during the summer months...and no, it’s not just because they’re working on their beach body.  Natural weight loss happens because it’s easier to exercise when the weather’s nice. Also, rates of depression (which often causes people to eat high-carbohydrate foods) go down with sun exposure due to the drop in Seasonal Affective Disorder, and the boost in Vitamin D.  In addition, low-calorie, highly-nutritious fruits and vegetables are readily available in the summer time, so people tend to eat fresher, healthier meals.

  1. Sunshine (in moderation) is good for skin diseases.

UV rays have been shown to improve skin conditions like psoriasis, eczema and acne. Researchers think this may happen because sunlight attracts immune cells to the skin.  Just make sure not to over-do it, because excessive exposure to UV rays can cause skin cancer. Dermatologists recommend that you apply sunscreen if you’re going to be out in the sun for more than 15 minutes.

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At GGUC, we hope you’re enjoying all the benefits that sunshine and summer bring!  We’re here if you need us, with six Bay Area clinics open seven days a week to care for you and get you back to your summer plans in no time.  Make an appointment online, or simply walk in to get the care you need.

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