Imagine this. You have body pains all over, your body is aching really bad, and you basically feel like an old lady. So you go to the doctor, run some tests and return in a few days. You’re sitted, scared to your bones about what the doctor is about to say, only for him to tell you that your predicament is due to the fact that you haven’t been getting enough sun.
Trust me I didn’t just make that up, that was my story.
“What does the sun have to do with body pains?”, I hear you ask. Well, let’s break it down. We need the sun to help our body produce vitamin D, which is essential for the development and strengthening of our bones, and many other vital processes in the body. In my case, my bones weren’t strong enough because I was lacking vitamin D, since I apparently wasn’t getting enough sun.
This just goes to show how important the sun is! The sun also makes us happier (No jokes). It helps boost serotonin levels in our body. Serotonin is a chemical that controls mood and is associated with happy feelings. However, Intense sunlight (between 10am and 2pm) and over-exposure to the sun causes a number of changes to our skin;
- Premature ageing of skin- UV damages fibres in the skin called elastin. When the fibres break down, the skin begins to sag, stretch and lose its elasticity, thus making the skin look wrinkled and “older” than it actually is.
- Prolonged healing time- Sun can damage the skin cells, especially those on the outer layer of the skin. This bruises the skin and alters its natural self- healing abilities
- Sun burn- UV rays of the sun penetrate into the layers of the skin and damage skin cells, causing the skin to burn
- Skin cancer- Frequent and prolonged exposure to UV rays over many years is the chief cause of skin cancer. This is as a result of direct or indirect DNA damage by the sun’s UV rays.
Protecting the skin
Tanning is the skin’s way of protecting itself from harmful effects of the sun. Certain cells in the skin produce a substance called melanin which causes temporary darkening of the skin. Tanning however isn’t sufficient in protecting the skin, and additional protective measures should thus be taken;
- Limit sun exposure time, most especially between the hours of 10am-2pm
- Use sunscreen products and oils with natural sun protection abilities, such as coconut oil and olive oil.
- Wear protective clothing. As well as being great fashion pieces, sunshades and hats go a long way in protecting us from the sun.
- Foods such as tomato, leafy vegetables, carrots and green tea boost the skin’s natural sun protection ability.
Yes, sunlight in moderation is good for our overall well being, but over exposure can be harmful to the skin’s structure and condition.