What We Need to Know About the Effects of the Sun on Health
Sunlight travels to Earth as a mixture of visible and invisible rays or waves. They are long, which are harmless to humans, and short, UVA and UVB rays, which can have harmful effects.
Positives of exposure to sunlight
Sunlight helps regulate sleep. Thanks to the alternation of day and night, the body knows when to stay awake and when to rest peacefully by sleeping.
Sun exposure affects the proper functioning of our nervous system. Too little sun, especially during the winter months, can predispose some people to a form of depression known as seasonal affective disorder.
Sunlight helps the skin produce vitamin D. It is needed for normal bone function and health. To get the necessary amount of vitamin D, you need to bake your hands and face for about 10 to 15 minutes a day.
Sunlight, however, can also cause damage.
Negatives from exposure to sunlight
Excessive exposure to UVB rays (short ultraviolet rays) can cause sunburn. When ultraviolet rays enter the cells of the skin, they disrupt the delicate processes that affect its appearance and regeneration. To deal with the negative effects, the body has the ability to constantly shed dead cells from the outermost layer of the skin and replace them. However, the risk of long-term damage remains.
Accelerates the aging process. Over time, exposure to these rays can make the skin less elastic, thickened, wrinkled, or thinned like tissue. As we age, it becomes more difficult for the skin to recover from the damage caused by ultraviolet rays, and this negatively affects the condition of the connective tissue underneath, which in turn accelerates the aging process, respectively the formation of wrinkles and lines.
Too much sun exposure can also increase the risk of skin cancer. When UV light enters skin cells, it can damage the genetic material (called DNA) inside. Damage to DNA can cause changes in cells that cause them to grow and divide rapidly. This growth can lead to clumps of extra cells called a tumor or lesion. They can be cancerous (malignant) or harmless (benign).
How to protect ourselves
Limit sun exposure. Avoid prolonged sun exposure and stay in the shade, not in direct sunlight.
Wear protective clothing and sunglasses. When it is not possible to avoid exposure to the sun, use protective equipment.
Use sunscreen products. It is recommended to start with sunscreen products from an early age.
Avoid using a tanning bed.
Good to know that
Sunscreens are available with a sun protection factor (SPF) label of 15, 30 or 50. One SPF protects you from the harmful effects of the sun for 5 minutes. So you can easily calculate when you should reapply the respective product. The effectiveness of sunscreen is affected by several factors: expiration date, how much you apply, whether you get wet while using it.
Cloudy days or dark skin contribute to lower levels of vitamin D in the body. The required amounts can also be obtained with food or nutritional supplements.
When we manage to create the necessary habits and rituals to protect ourselves from the negative influence of the sun, we can calmly enjoy sunny days in the park or on the beach and benefit from the positive influence of the sun on our body!