Woman Sitting While Showing Heart Sign Hands

The Power of Sunlight

If you had to guess one of the most common lifestyle deficiencies in the US, what would it be? We could all stand to eat extra fiber, drink more water, and exercise more often, but what about something as simple as sunlight? 

Insufficient sun exposure is linked to debilitating conditions such as depression, insomnia, fatigue, weight gain, and cognitive decline. 

The best part — sun exposure is readily available and it’s completely free! 

While the sun emits a broad range of energy waves, what we care about here is the near-infrared light that sits just beyond the visible light spectrum, as it’s extremely beneficial to our health. 

A recent study found that near-infrared light therapy can be used as a complement to other therapies when treating cancers. (1) Studies have also shown the benefits of near-infrared therapy when combined with various cancer treatments for Her2-positive breast cancer (2).

Another study showed that near-infrared light therapy can help reduce the risk of cognitive dysfunction and dementia (3) Near-infrared light therapy can help treat chronic inflammatory conditions, such as osteoarthritis and degenerative joint disease (4).

How is this possible? The energy emitted by near-infrared light penetrates our skin and soft tissues where it interacts at the cellular level. These waves cause vibrations at the correct frequency to stimulate our cells’ mitochondria. These tiny organelles can be thought of as our cells’ power plants. This cellular energy is essential for the growth, metabolism, and recycling of waste products within every cell in our bodies.

Without proper energy from the mitochondria, toxins and metabolic waste can build up inside the cell which leads to molecular damage, DNA mutation, and can eventually result in chronic disease and cancer. 

If you’re not excited about direct sun exposure, it’s possible to enjoy many of the health benefits of near-infrared light in the comfort of your home. These days, there are many near-infrared saunas available on the market.  

It’s important to do your research before making a big purchase as many saunas don’t emit near-infrared light at all. 

Red light therapy should not be confused with near-infrared. Red light sits adjacent to the infrared spectrum and doesn’t penetrate the body beyond the level of the skin. This can have advantages, for example in the field of cosmetic dermatology, where red light therapy is used frequently. 

But if you’re looking for a deeper and systemic health benefit be sure to select a sauna that emits near-infrared light. 

Of course, a much more affordable way of reaping the benefits is by getting outside every single day, regardless of the season. 

You might say, I’m worried about skin cancer so I’ll cover up and limit the amount of skin exposed to the sun. That’s okay since these energy waves penetrate clothing — half-naked sun bunny tanning on the ski slopes isn’t required…Brrr! 

Another life hack for sun exposure is to get outside when the sun is 15 to 30 degrees off the horizon. This is because the atmosphere helps filter out much of the harmful ultraviolet rays that can cause skin damage while allowing the beneficial near-infrared light to pass through. 

Not only does natural sunlight and near-infrared light enhance our health and well-being, but I’ve found that being outside in nature nourishes the soul in ways we can’t describe — we could all use a bit more vitamin N in our lives. 

Happy hiking. 

The Empowered Patient

Dr. Kate

Bonus Tip: 

Reducing omega-6 fats by avoiding seed oils and processed foods helps to reduce the body’s oxidative stress and increases the skin’s natural resiliency to sun exposure. 

Similar Posts