You’re not just happier when the sun is shining – you’re healthier too. Though we’re often warned about the health dangers of over-exposure to the sun, the health benefits of a modest amount of sunshine are huge. Here are give reasons to raise your ice pops and enjoy the summer.
Reduces risk of heart attack
Many studies have revealed how important the sun is to our health. Vitamin D is vital for healthy bones and preventing rickets in children and a little sun exposure may even reduce our risk of heart attacks. The sun promotes the release of ‘period two’ proteins, which make the body’s use of oxygen more effective, helping heart attack patients survive longer. Like we needed an excuse to hit the sun lounger.
We fancy more fruit and nature supplies it
When the summer is upon us we’re less likely to reach for the fatty, sugary foods that comfort us in the winter, instead tempted by refreshing fruit and veg, which also hydrates us. Who wants a warming bowl of chicken soup when you’re sweltering hot? Summer brings with it a colourful cornucopia of fruits and veg in the summertime including cherries, blackberries, raspberries, peaches and peppers. Plus they’re packed full of natural antioxidants, making them the perfect health booster. If you have children, take them to a pick your own farm in the summer holidays to encourage their interest in what they’re eating when.
Skin conditions improve
Although sun exposure is linked to burning, damage, wrinkles and premature aging, a little UV light is known to ease common skin problems including acne, psoriasis and dermatitis, when done in a safe, healthy way. A consultant dermatologist from St Thomas’s hospital in London says that most skin complaints are caused by over-sensitivity, but that the sun’s UV rays help to combat this sensitivity. You can have too much of a good thing, though. Experts suggest limiting your exposure to no more than 15 minutes a day before applying a sun cream with a high sun protection factor.
The sun’s UV rays act as a natural antiseptic, helping to combat viruses, bacteria, fungi and much more. Sunlight encourages the production of white blood cells to boost the immune system and fight infection. Vitamin D is a major factor in combating viruses too, as it helps to produce natural antibiotics called antimicrobial peptides. When we’re all snuggled up in a dimly lit room during the chilly winter months, these levels naturally reduce and we’re more prone to catch a cold or the flu (though you should still be vigilant for the dreaded summer cold when it’s warm!).
Better shut eye
Insomnia and irregular sleep patterns tend to improve in the summer and we’re much more likely to sleep well and wake up feeling refreshed. Our melatonin levels start to rise when the sun goes down, which naturally makes us sleepy; they drop when the sun rises, waking us up. But many of us are guilty of staying up late at night with electric lights on and waking up late in the morning, which messes with our body’s natural sleep cycle. The early morning sunshine in the summer resets our body’s natural rhythm to ease us back into a natural sleeping routine. Thank you summer, for coming to our aid!