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Let There Be (Natural) Light!

Updated: Dec 4, 2023

Or risk hormone disruption, sleep problems, depression, weight gain and even an

increased risk of cancer and other deteriorating health conditions.


So, it's coming up to the darkest month of the year in the Northern hemisphere and it's easier said than done right?! It's dark when you go to work and it's dark when you get home. You may not have the option to get outdoors at break times, and if you work night shifts and sleep all day you can go days without seeing natural daylight.


Human beings, and indeed most living things rely on exposure to natural daylight for health and longevity. Just put your Yukka plant in a cupboard for a week and see what happens... We NEED daylight on a regular basis, ideally in tune with natural

circadian rhythms aka our 'Body Clock'.


A chronic deficiency of the full spectrum of light we get from sunrise to sunset is known to increase the risk of cancer and other health problems, and you can't just fix this by taking Vitamin D supplements.. although that can certainly help.


Don't assume that if you can see daylight through a window that you're ok, you do need to be outside for your eyes and light receptors in the skin to take in the lightwaves which send signals to the brain. Triggered by natural light the pineal gland then triggers the release of a cascade of hormones and neurotranmitters via the Hypothalamus and Pituitary gland which signal our body to function optimally.


On the other hand, too much exposure to artificial light can also be a problem:

Blue light is a part of the natural spectrum of light, but only a small part and it's this wavelength which signals to the body that it is very much daytime. So prolonged exposure to blue light in the evening from our phones, laptops, smart TV's

and 'eco friendly' LED lighting when we should be receiving more of the red light spectrum just serves to mess with our Melatonin production.





In sensitive people this makes for a disturbed night's sleep as melatonin is needed to help us relax and sleep well. Melatonin is also a major antioxidant in the body, ensuring dangerous 'free radicals' are mopped up, neutralised and don't go on to cause rogue cells, and disease. Hence the tendency shift workers have with an increased risk of illness.


Light is also responsible for triggering the release of Serotonin; a neurotransmitter responsible for feeling good. A deficiency can increase Dopamine which drives us to seek rewarding satisfying activities such as drinking alcohol and eating comfort food. Increased dopamine is associated with a tendency to adopt addictive behavior patterns.


Other hormones affected by night time exposure to blue light are Leptin and Ghrelin, responsible for appetite control and satiety. If these are out of balance we don't know when to stop eating and are always 'hungry'. This obviously leads to weight gain and once fat takes on a life of it's own, it is really difficult to lose it.


There is surprising research which demonstrates that even eating under blue light has an effect on glucose metabolism and insulin release. So much so that we are more likely to store fat than when we are not under blue light! Begs the question if is this why we are prone to weight gain in the winter?

What can we do to help ourselves?

The obvious advice is to to get outdoors as often as you can without sunglasses, prescription glasses, sunscreen or SPF make up. Allow those rays to penetrate your eyes and skin. Obviously don't look directly into bright sunlight, but within an hour of sunrise is most beneficial and less damaging to the retina


It doesn't even have to be a clear sky, beneficial light waves penetrate clouds. Water is after all a conductor of electro magnetic waves. As little as 10 minutes is enough to make a difference. So walk to work or school if you can, get off the tube/bus a stop earlier or park the car further away. Get outside a break times and mealtimes and if you can eat in


natural daylight, or at least not under the glare of LED light bulbs. Fluorescent light is slightly better, but the old incandescent bulbs or natural daylight bulbs are the ideal if you can't.


At work you can protect your eyes from blue light coming from computer screens and lighting with blue light blocking glasses. You can even get red light tinted shades to help you to wind down in the evening and boost that Melatonin production.


Shift workers can help themselves with Melatonin as a supplement, as many workers in the time-zone leaping airline industry do. This needs to be monitored by your GP or other health professional. Shift workers also need to ensure they get outdoors as much as possible on days off, and when not on night shift.


Gut health?

Our microbiome is also dependant on light. Really?

But our large intestine is buried deep within our abdomen right? Yes, but, research using special photography which captures biophotons emitted from living things (Kirlian photography), shows our intestinal bacteria emit light. That is, when it is healthy. So where does that come from?

If you're lucky enough to live in the Southern hemisphere where you can expose the light receptors in your belly to the sunshine more often all well and good. Most of us have to rely on feeding our gut bacteria with fibre from fresh foods which contain.. wait for it.. yes light! Once you start to really understand the importance of consuming fresh non-processed food and the benefits to health it has you will never go back to consuming 'dead' processed food again.

Over 70% of serotonin is made in the gut... serotonin makes melatonin.. join the dots.


Your Body is amazing, treat it well, give it what it needs and it will look after you. Whether it's problems with hormones, digestion or mood, light can make a huge difference to improving your health.

Visit my website www.andreawoodnutrition.com to find out more and book a free chat to see how an holistic approach can help you.
















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