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Want to Slash Your Cancer Risk? Then Reevaluate Your Attitudes to Sun Exposure…


The birds are singing, the weather’s changing… spring is here! And with that comes the sun. That great big ball of fire in the sky holds the key to the surprisingly simple way to improve your health and happiness – sun exposure! That’s right – the sun. Though often touted by the media as the Number One way to get cancer, the sunshine is not as black as it’s painted. As winter begins to wind down, now is the time to re-evaluate your attitudes about “catching some rays”!


What can the sun do for you?

Quite a number of things!

➯ Regulates melatonin in the body. When you’re outside in the sun, the body produces melatonin, which is what makes you feel tired. You’ll find it easier to go to bed earlier, with a deeper sleep. You’ll wake up refreshed and energized!

➯ Promotes bone health and mineral homeostasis.

➯ Fights illness.  According to Dr. Joseph Mercola’s book, Dark Deception (published in 2008), simple sunshine can be your ally in combating all kinds of mental and physical diseases, including: 16 types of internal cancer, diabetes, heart disease, hypertension, multiple sclerosis, psoriasis, ricketts, schizophrenia, tuberculosis and myopathy.  Here’s what Dr. Mercola has to say about healthy sun exposure (the part about insect repellent is an extra bonus!):

➯ Improves mood. Have you ever heard of SAD? Seasonal affective disorder affects us all in degrees – a lack of sun can manifest itself though the symptoms of depression. The lift in spirits we feel in the springtime is tied with the increased exposure we get to UV rays. The more you get out into the sunshine, the better you’ll feel – exposure to the sun is tied with production of seratonin.

➯ Recent findings have shown that vitamin D affects a wider spectrum of cells than we first thought. The findings suggest that there are many more positive effects of vitamin D just waiting to be found!  One thing the latest research does suggest, however, is that 1/3 of all cancer deaths could likely be prevented simply by appropriate sun exposure and the vitamin-D levels resulting from it.

How?

This is where the “sneaky” comes in – because getting the sun you need is as simple as skipping the sunscreen. Don’t apply until you’ve gotten at least twenty minutes of hot sun. So walk or bike to work. Read in your backyard. Go on a picnic with the ones you love! Plan a beach day! Or simply take a stroll. All of these are easy ways to get a better night’s sleep, lower your cancer risk and prevent illness for years to come. And adding a little healthy colour to your skin can’t hurt either!

How much?

If you’re fair, ten minutes a day of sun at its peak (between 12:00 pm and 3:00 pm) should do the trick, and if you have a warm/medium skin tone, the recommended 20 minutes a day. If you’re more darkly pigmented, you may need up to three times that. And remember, exposure just on your face and hands often isn’t enough. Shorts and t-shirts are your friend!

What about skin damage?

While the negative effects of the sun on your body are grossly exaggerated by the media, a sunburn should undoubtedly be avoided! After you’ve had a bit of sun exposure, protect yourself from a sun overdose with a hat, a light shirt or a shawl. Or simply stay in the shade! While sunscreen is another way to protect from the sun, it’s far from the best way. First, who knows the effects of all the chemicals that are put into it? We slather on so much of this stuff, and it’s going right through our skin into our bloodstream. I’ve known many people that have had allergic reactions to the stuff, which doesn’t bode well. Wouldn’t it be far healthier, and easier, simply to wear a hat and hang out in the shade? And I for one have never been a fan of the pale-shiny faced look that arises when you’ve glopped all of the stuff on. But perhaps that’s just my vanity speaking.

The worst has happened! You’ve gotten a sunburn!

Don’t panic! Just apply aloe vera (raw if you have it) as often as you can until it heals. Aloe is above and beyond the best way to quickly and effectively treat and soothe sun-damaged skin. Cover the affected area when you’re  in the sun to avoid exacerbating the injury, and try to get your daily recommended sun exposure on another part of the body, if possible.

Wishing you and your family lots of fun in the sun!

~Dr. Symeon Rodger


Summer: the Key to Building Your Personal Resilience (Part 1)

Well, I don’t know what your weather is like today, but here in Ottawa, Canada (officially the planet’s second coldest national capital), it’s 28 C / 82 F and with the humidity if feels like 39 C or 102 degrees F. 

So summer is definitely here!  And despite the heat and humidity, summer is very important to building your personal resilience.  The key is knowing how and why. 

Flexibility:

On the most elementary level, summer is great for fitness.  You’re likely to spend more time outdoors, even if that’s just walking, gardening or soaking up rays at the beach.  One area where it’s easy to make huge fitness gains in the summer is the flexibility of your connective tissue (muscles, tendons, ligaments, fasciae) and your joints.  You see, the higher ambient temperatures make your body more pliable, so it’s easier to stretch and there’s less likelihood of injury when you do.  So if you’ve ever thought about improving the range of motion of any part of your body, summer is the time!

One person I know plans to increase his flexibility enough over the summer to be able to sit comfortably in the full lotus posture by September.  I’ve known others, especially martial artists and other athletes, who wanted to work up to the splits (or at least closer to it ;-).  All this brings up the key question – why should you care about improving your flexibility?

For starters, flexibility training will help protect your soft tissues and especially your joints from injury – in other words, minor mishaps that would previously have injured your knee, twisted your ankle or thrown your back out are no longer such a threat.  Flexibility training will also improve your blood circulation, as well as your energy (qi) circulation, giving you better health and more vitality.  And finally, stretching is a natural detox, something we’ll talk about more in a later post. 

Here’s a great resource for you on flexibility:

http://www.sport-fitness-advisor.com/flexibilitytraining.html

Needless to say, it’s also a great time to start a Hatha Yoga program, since the yogic stretching and postures (asanas) will be easier.  The same applies to certain types of Qi Gong.  Whatever kind of stretching you use, though, just be sure to warm up first and build slowly.  Increased flexibility can make a big difference in how you feel phyically and emotionally, so you’ll be glad you did.

Fitness in General over the Summer:

Summer is also a great time for strength training, simply because there’s less chance of injury to the joints and soft tissues, given the higher temparatures.  Is it a better time for cardio than other seasons, though?  Well, the jury is out on that.  Some point out how much easier and safer it is to go running in the summer than with snow and ice under foot.  Granted, but on the other hand, high heat and humitiy can be a serious hazard for runners in the summer.

One great thing to do in the summer is to change your fitness routine to make it season-specific, to take advantage of what’s more easily available in the summer, such as cycling, swimming and more. 

So I’d encourage you to use the summer to build up your resilience in ways the season itself can help you with.  Next time, we’ll go on to look at some other resilience-building activities best done in the summer. 

~ Dr. Symeon Rodger




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