Saturday, September 24, 2011

For You, Oh Glittering Sun

'Ia 'oe e ka la, e alohi nei...
...Mana welelau a o ka honua

For you, oh glittering sun...
...there, on the summit of the world

A Farewell to the Summer Sun

Some of you may be wondering what the hell this posting is about.

It's about one of my newly acquired, favorite past times - the best way to dose up on your vitamin D.

Nude sunbathing.

It seems to me that our species is the only terrestrial species for which many actively avoids the mid-day sun, or if they do go out in it, most cover up or slather on all sorts of chemical concoctions to "protect" the skin from the sun.

Every morning, here in Hawaii, whenever the local TV newscast starts off it's weather segment predicting a sun drenched day, it's always accompanied with an admonishment to "put on the sun block, it's gonna be a hot one today!"

Yet, if you listen to the array of advice put forth in the mainstream mass media, you get conflicting messages regarding vitamin D and it's role in cancer, and the role of sun exposure and Vitamin D levels, and the never ending sales pitch to use sunscreen whenever you head outdoors.

The standard advice is that if at all possible, cover up with clothes and sunglasses, wide brim hats, and above all else, avoid the sun between 10:00am - 4:00pm - the time of day when the sun is directly overhead and at it's most intense exposure. Look at the very first suggestion from the American Cancer Society's page on Skin Cancer Prevention Activities:

Limit the amount of time spent in direct sun when the sun’s rays are most intense, generally from 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.

Ah well, we all know the conventional wisdom promulgated by the likes of the American Cancer Society is nothing more than lies designed to get us to become unhealthy so we can than become revenue streams for the medical/pharmaceutical/insurance complex, right? I mean, think about it....Vitamin D deficiency is related to a whole host of illnesses, including nearly all forms of cancer - but the American Cancer Society advises everyone to get out of the sun from 10am - 4pm daily - the only time of day in which the sun is at the right angle so you you can actually get enough UVB rays for your skin to produce your badly needed vitamin D! think the American Cancer Society has a vested interest in making sure cancer is a problem that is never solved so that they will have a perpetual reason to exist?

Nah....couldn't be.

Look at all the pictures of all the animals above...all are sunbathing in the mid-day sun. Think they intuitively or instinctively know something many of us do not?

To put this all simply: Vitamin D is one of the most important substances your body needs.

You only produce it when your skin is exposed to UVB sunlight rays. The sun generally emits two spectrum of ultraviolet light - UVA and UVB. UVB only reaches those in it's direct line of exposure - mid-day, that 10am-4pm window. UVA is ambient, penetrates cloudcover, and is the UV responsible for causing sun burns. You're exposed to UVA anytime you're outdoors and the sun is in the sky, though early dawn and late dusk, it is minimal. UVA is why you can get sunburned on a cloudy day, or if you're wearing a wide brimmed hat and sunglasses, and your face still gets burned when your on the water or snow. UVA can be reflected and still burn you from long time exposure to it.

Another important factor to consider is that sunscreen and sunblock may prevent you from getting burned from long exposure to the sun...but it also blocks your skins ability to produce Vitamin D from UVB exposure.

So what was that advice again? Avoid sun exposure between the hours of 10am to 4pm, but if you must go out during that time, make sure you cover up and slather on sunscreen.

Follow this advice religiously, and you too can become a beneficiary of the cancer industries services when you're older!

Some people have jokingly said that whatever Doctor's and conventional wisdom recommends, you should do the exact opposite, and rest assured, you'll be better off for it. In terms of sun "safety" I think this advice may have merit.

Prior to this summer, I had been taking liquid Vitamin D3 capsules on a daily basis. After exhausting another bottle, while I was at the store contemplating another $20 bottle of D3, I thought to myself "Why am I paying for this when I live in Hawaii, where the latitude means I can get it for free year round? So I passed on the bottle of D3 and resolved to begin a sun bathing regimen.

Here's my "Vitamin D-for-free" strategy:

- At the beginning of this summer (around May), I began to deliberately sun bathe around 12 noon without any sun screen or clothing, for about 15 minutes front and back. It helps that I live in a rural area and do not have neighbors who can see my yard...but if you're an exhibitionist, than go for it!

- After a couple of sun bathing sessions, I gradually increased the time I stay out in the sun - from 15 minutes, I began to stay out for 20, than 25, so on and so forth. I can currently sun bathe for about 2 hours in the mid-day sun without sunscreen and not get burned. Tolerance to the sun takes time to build up, but if you do it right, you'll develop a nice tan and not get burned at all. I get comments on my tan from people all the time now.

- If I do have to spend a long time in the sun (like when I pick up some extra blue collar side work, or go to an all day event at the beach), I will cover up with clothes and a wide brimmed hat and sun glasses for the majority of the day - but if I'm able to, I'll take off the hat, sunglasses and shirt around noon and expose my skin to the sun while working for about an hour and than cover it all up again for the rest of the day. My co-workers think I'm crazy, as they're slathering on the sunscreen and keeping covered all day long.

- If I'm at the beach for say a picnic or barbecue with family and friends, I'll stay covered and in the shade, and only venture out into the sun to jump in the water for a swim or play a game, than head right back for the shade when I'm done with the activity.

- If I'm going surfing or diving or some other activity that has me in the water for hours, I'll usually either go at dawn or dusk (in other words, actually follow the conventional wisdom and avoid the 10-4 window). That way I don't need to use sunscreen and still avoid getting burned. I can honestly say that this is the first time in my entire life living in Hawaii in which I did not get sunburned or had peeling skin during the summer months, and I have yet to even use a single dab of sunscreen.

- Diet plays a huge role in developing sun tolerance as well. Prior to cutting glutenous grains and industrial vegetable oils out of my diet and dramatically reducing my sugar intake while increasing the saturated fats, I would get sunburned within 15 - 20 minutes of of mid day sun exposure. Now, even if I do happen to stay out in the sun a little too long, I may turn red...but within 12 hours, the redness fades and my tan is darker, and I don't have the pain of a sunburn, nor does my skin peel. When I used to eat SAD, redness meant days of pain and eventual peeling for sure.

- One of the things I've always wanted to acquire, was a hot tub. I'm frequently sore and bruised all over my body from my martial arts training regimen. I've often longingly thought of sinking into a hot tub to relax my sore muscles many a night after my classes. I have noticed lately though that about an hour after sun bathing, my previously sore muscles feel relaxed and if I had been in a hot tub, or I just had a deep-tissue massage. So I googled the other day...sure enough, Vitamin D levels and muscle soreness, injury recovery, cramping and body building definitely appear to be related!

Dang. Seems like all the other terrestrial species on the planet who sunbathe at mid day may be on to something...why waste money on things like sunscreen, massages and such, when all you need to do is sunbathe on a regular basis? In these tough economic times, the Sun is one of the best ways to cut your healthcare costs!

I still want a hot tub though.


Arual said...

I haven't perfected my anti-SAD diet yet, but I haven't used sunscreen in years. When I go out I slather aloe vera all over my exposed skin and even if I burn, I never peel and the burn doesn't hurt more than 12 hours, similar to what you've described.

It'd be better if I were just eating well enough to go it without anything though.

Peggy the Primal Parent said...

Without sun bathing life would be sad and serious.

I love sun bathing, which I do in a tiny bikini so I'm not missing much of the rays, but nude sun bathing feels so primal, so sensual. There's nothing better (except maybe sex under the beating sun's rays).

I don't burn as long as my diet is primal. I put sunscreen on my tattoos but that's it. I let my health take care of my skin.

The Cottage Child said...

I've been using coconut oil mixed with zinc oxide powder for most of the summer, with amazing results (clear, tan, unwrinkled skin, all of which eluded me using conventional sunscreen), but the last couple weeks we've been prepping the back for a garden and hens and I haven't been using anything - it's like 100 F here with blazing sun still, and not a even a pink cast to be found on me or the kids. I've been working this week (inside, and I need new glasses so I've been getting headaches) - 20 minutes in the sun and the headache/eye strain are gone, completely. LOVING the sun! I have a whole new appreciation.

Be well, KG.

Delusion Damage said...

I wonder if you even need the special diet to protect you from the sun or if the gradual exposure is enough.


I haven't used sunscreen at all for 3-4 years. During that time, I've traversed various latitudes and spent long stretches of time outside in all of them. I've gotten red a few times when being careless but not enough for skin to peel.

I eat whatever. I don't even know which foods include the glutenous grains or vegetable oils or other stuff, so it's fair to assume I am not eating a particularly protection-enhancing diet.

I have primarily Nordic skin and can definitely burn in a serious way, and I have (although not during these last years).

The only thing I do to protect myself from the sun is gradual exposure - I start with a little while in the sun (how little depends on latitude), and gradually increase as my tan builds. I've found I can increase the exposure time by almost 50% each time without trouble. This allows not only for a summer tan, but I can be all white in the winter and then go on a vacation in the subtropics for two weeks, and with gradual exposure, by the end of the two weeks I can take pretty much all day of full-on sunshine without any noticeable redness.

There is of course individual variation in how easily people tan, but you may not even need a special diet for sun protection. Unless you're eating that stuff for other health reasons, maybe you want to try without it for a while and see if your sun resistance even suffers at all.

vonag said...

I always hated sun screens but never knew why until this information started coming out more frequently.

lifescansdarkly said...

Just this past summer I started taking sunlight seriously. It's been amazing. I'm white/blue eyes so I can definitely get pink, but only if I'm stupid about it. I had a few burns that peeled, but later in the year, as my diet improved I noticed that redness would fade into a tan, which used to never happen.

Sure, it's good for vitamin D. But it also makes you look amazing.

Anonymous said...

The dear wife and I have stopped using sunscreens, the more THEY demand we use them the more we resist. Two days ago, we noticed I had turned pink from time at the hotsprings, never peeled and went into a tan after two days, no pain.
We live practicly on the equator.
Moderation is good but the recomendations by the medical cartal is not in moderation.

Chris said...


Greetings from the second day of daylight saving in NZ. Now... I can walk around all day, without screen, anywhere in the Northern Hemisphere or on the equators... and I'm half english with a mongrel mix of Celtic blood (mother was a redhead. Think Kidman).

But in NZ, I need hat and screen. We have NO ozone protection (thanks to CFCs being banned, it is slowly improving).

And we have the highest rate of melanoma in the world -- it is the one area where the Maori do better than their pale countrymen (they have less).

So... the rules in Australasia are different because the environment is a lot more toxic

WP said...

I avoid prolonged midday exposure because its hot and drains a lot of energy. Otherwise, like you, surf at early morning or afternoon so sunscreen is a complete non issue. a little concerned though, because I have a truckload of sunspots. The only caveat is that...I'm not sure if I got a lot from recent non-sunscreen yet paleo times (no real burns anymore). Or, if I got the majority of them from my pre-paleo diet where I would get massive sunburns (worst was probably on the 3rd degree burn level).

Keoni Galt said...

Peggy - If I had tattoos, I'd probably wear sunscreen on them too...wouldn't want that expensive, permanent ink to start blurring.

Cottage Child - Interesting! Where do you get your zinc oxide powder? I'd like to try that out for times when I have to work in the sun all day...a little on my face and neck. Even though I wear a wide brim hat and sunglasses, I still get reflected ambient heat that turns my face red after 8+ hours working on asphalt and concrete surfaces.

DD - I'm surprised that a guy like you who's blogged extensively about recognizing the lies of society designed to mislead us all hasn't taken note with regards to food...thing is, I don't have a "special diet." I have a diet focused on real food, not manufactured, industrially processed food PRODUCTS. I would suspect though, that your point is a valid one - building up a tolerance is probably the main factor in avoiding sunburn. But based on my own experiences even that tolerance process is certainly affected by diet.

Chris - The widespread use of sunscreen correlates quite nicely with the rise in melanoma rates. Is it causation? I think so. Vitamin D is probably the most crucial vitamin your body needs...yet if you're always covered up and using sunscreen, chances are you'll be deficient.

I'm not saying everyone should carelessly stay out in the sun all day long, but some measured, carefully monitored, uncovered exposure at mid day, long enough to manufacture D3 in your skin, but not long enough to burn, is one of the best things you can do for your health.

Keoni Galt said...

WP - I avoid prolonged midday exposure because its hot and drains a lot of energy

When your doing something like working or some recreation, certainly. But like I noted in the post...I've noticed a very relaxing effect since I've started sunbathing regularly.

While I noted I CAN sunbathe for close to 3 hours without burning, I generally only lay out for about an hour. I get that relaxing feeling without feeling drained.

The Cottage Child said...

I got some from a crunchy neighbor, but this is the link from Wellness Mama (who has a complete more thorough recipe, too, if you need it, but I was too lazy)to an Amazon source:

Delusion Damage said...

@ Keoni Galt
> "I'm surprised that a guy like you who's blogged extensively about recognizing the lies of society designed to mislead us all hasn't taken note with regards to food"

I travel light. I can't cart around much real (that is, perishable) food. I have to eat at whatever fast food joint is open at 1 a.m. at the airport. I can't cook a healthy meal in a hotel room where the equipment consists of two plastic cups and a single-serving packet of instant coffee (which I don't drink). I can't even peel a fruit because the TSA takes away all my knives.

I don't write about food because I don't know much about food. I don't know much about food because I focus on learning about things I can do something about. If anyone knows of a way I could eat healthy given the circumstances, that would be awesome, but...
the reason I haven't much studied food-related issues is that anything that involves the word "cook" has to stay in the realm of the theoretical for me.

I know enough to know that the processed food industry is screwing us all over big time, but I haven't given it enough study to feel like I can write about it.

Gerard said...

Wow. Science is starting to back you up on this. I stand corrected!