By: Dr. Andrew Baranski
It is summertime, and many of us are enjoying the increased time in the sun summer brings. During the summer many of us notice a loss of extra pounds gained during our winter hibernation. The benefits of sunlight have gained notoriety in the past few years, but a newly published study out of University of Alberta sheds light on the mechanisms behind shedding weight through light exposure.
The sun produces a spectrum of different colors of light. The 2 colors that receive the most attention are blue and red light. Blue light is heightened during that day, and red light is increased closer to sunset. The balance between these two spectrums is attributed to sleep-wake cycles. The retina in your eyes have photoreceptors sensitive to the wavelengths given off by blue and red light. These receptors send information back to the pineal gland in the brain which regulates the production of the hormone melatonin to stimulate our circadian clock.
New research has found that subcutaneous white adipose tissue (scWAT) has similar receptor sites as the retina. Subcutaneous white adipose tissue is fat found beneath the skin that can be burned for energy. Light from the sun has been shown to penetrate beyond the skin, and act upon fat cells. The investigation into the effects of sun radiation found that when the receptor sites for blue light in fat cells were activated the cells were utilized more readily for energy. This means that exposure to the sun in the day increases the utilization of stored body fat for energy.
The bodies innate intelligence and attunement to the universe
During the summer months, there is an increase in blue light radiation from the sun. This equates to increased fat burning in the summer. In the winter months, blue light radiation is decreased and causes increased fat storage.
We know that the body has a circadian clock that regulates sleep-wake cycles. This new research study shows that the body also has a circadian clock attuned to the change in seasons. During the winter months, it would have been conducive to survival for our primal ancestors to hold on to body fat to be utilized for energy in months when food was scarce. During the summer months, it would make sense to eliminate the stored body fat because food would become more available, and if fat continued to accumulate health would decline. Health is the natural state of every organism as long as there is not an interference to nature.
Maximize your life through smart sunlight exposure
Aim to achieve 20 minutes of direct sunlight first thing in the morning. Morning movement with added blue light exposure kick starts fat-burning, and getting sunlight first thing in the morning helps with regulating the sleep-wake cycles. Receiving sunlight before 10:00 am also helps in mitigating the negative effects of toxic UV rays. For a bonus going on a walk outside after dinner closer to sunset when red light is increased helps to stimulate melatonin and improved sleep helps to increase fat loss as well. Walking after a meal also helps to aid digestion and regulate blood sugar. It is always best to expose as much skin as possible when getting sunlight for it increases the number of fat cells being exposed and also increases vitamin-D synthesis. When I have enough seclusion I sunbathe naked because exposing the male reproductive organs to direct sunlight is shown to support healthy levels of testosterone.
The health benefits of blue light are touted in this article due to the source being the sun. This means that is also accompanied by all of the other spectrums the sun produces and even UV radiation. Blue light from unnatural sources, such as indoor lighting and electronics, damage health, and disrupt circadian rhythm. This is why I highly recommend powering off electronics 90 minutes before bed and also wearing a set of blue light blocking glasses at night and if spending extended periods in front of a screen.