Our primal ancestors were tuned into nature in ways we can’t begin to understand.
They survived — and thrived — on the flesh of animals they chased and brought down with rocks, spears and even their bare hands.
Our early ancestors woke when the sun rose and slept when the sun set. Today, we spend most of our lives indoors.
They foraged for wild nuts and berries and dug roots and tubers from the earth.
And for thousands of years they lived near the equator, naked in the sun.
They slept when the sun set and woke when it rose in the morning.
Today, we are constantly trying to bend nature to our will. We engineer foods to grow all year long. We eat processed flour and sugar our ancestors wouldn’t ever recognize as food. We light up the night with artificial light so we can extend our days into the darkness.
And unlike our ancestors we don’t spend much time outdoors. We work in modern buildings. We cover our bodies with clothes and sunscreen.
Being out of sync with our solar system is at the root of many of our modern diseases and even contributed to our obesity epidemic.
Let me explain…
A breakthrough study from the University of Alberta just revealed that sunshine may help you control your weight. They found that fat cells just under your skin shrink when exposed to blue light emitted by the sun.1
The sun’s blue light waves are the light you can see with your eyes. This blue light can also penetrate your skin. When it hits fat cells just beneath your skin’s surface, it reduces fat droplets and releases them out of the cell.
In other words, with sunshine your cells don’t store as much fat. But when you don’t get enough sun, your cells store more fat. It may well be why you notice that you gain more weight in the winter and lose more in the summer.2
Sunshine works another way to help you control your weight…
You probably know by now that when sunshine hits your skin, it produces vitamin D. And studies show that people who are obese or physically inactive are low in vitamin D. A deficiency of vitamin D has been linked to obesity and metabolic syndrome.3
Other studies show that increasing your vitamin D levels may improve weight loss. Here’s why…
Your fat cells have vitamin D receptors. When your body has enough vitamin D, your fat cells release more leptin. This hormone is your appetite suppressant. The more leptin you have, the less hunger you feel. So when your vitamin D levels drop, leptin levels go down and you have more trouble controlling your appetite.
Sadly, mainstream medicine today views the sun as the enemy. But to shrink fat cells, curb hunger, and increase weight loss, I advise my patients to get plenty of sunshine.
To get the most vitamin D in the least amount of time, I usually recommend getting outside between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. That’s when the sun is highest and rays are strongest so you can get some good exposure over a short time. As little as 10 minutes in the midday sun can give you 10,000 IU of vitamin D.
But when it comes to getting the blue light you need to shrink fat cells, you need to get your sunshine in the early morning.
Research shows that getting light in the morning affects your body fat. In one study, researchers from Northwestern University had 54 adults wear wrist monitors. They tracked exposure to light. The results were clear…
People who got light exposure earlier in the day had a lower body mass index (BMI). In fact, for every hour they delayed getting some bright light, they had a 28% increase in their BMI.5
This makes a lot of sense. We haven’t evolved very much at all from our primal ancestors. And they were hard-wired to be up with the sun. Morning light is an important cue to sync our internal body clocks. It’s how we were designed for optimal health and performance.
Boost Vitamin D Like Your Ancestors Did
I tell my patients to practice what I call “gentle tanning.” Here’s what you do:
- Go slow at first. If you haven’t spent a lot of time in the sun, start out gradually. If you’re fair-skinned, go outside for about 10 to 20 minutes a day. If you have a darker complexion, then you can push it to about an hour.
- Get skin in the game. This means actually peeling down and getting a good area of your skin exposed. Roll up your sleeves and pant legs. But do wear a hat. Your face gets enough natural sunlight exposure every day.
- Timing is everything. Get out in the sun when your shadow is shorter than you are. Typically that’s between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. That’s when the sun is highest and rays are strongest so you can get good exposure over a short time. Just 10 minutes in the midday sun can give you 10,000 IU of vitamin D.
If you can’t get outside, look for a full spectrum lamp. You can find these light boxes online. Look for one that gives off 2,500 to 10,000 lux of light to mimic the sun.
To Your Good Health,
Al Sears, MD, CNS
1. Smith G. “Dietary Supplementation of Vitamin E to Cattle to Improve Shelf-Life and Case-Life for Domestic and International Markets.” Colorado State University.
2. Daley CA., et al. “A review of fatty acid profiles and antioxidant content in grass-fed and grain-fed beef.” Nutr J. 2010 Mar.
3. Dhiman TR., et al. “Conjugated linoleic acid content of milk from cows fed different diets.” J Dairy Sci. 1999 Oct.
4. Smit LA., et al. “Conjugated linoleic acid in adipose tissue and risk of myocardial infarction.” Am J Clin Nutr. 2010 Jul.
5. Bonthuis M., et al. “Dairy consumption and patterns of mortality of Australian adults.” European Journal of Clinical Nutrition. 2010.