Monday, October 31, 2022

sunlight affects your metabolism

 5 ways sunlight affects your metabolism 

Sunlight has a bigger impact on your health at the cellular level than you might think.Casey Means, MD UPDATED THIS WRITING TO SHOW HOW SUNSHINE CHANGES BODY AND MIND:Published: 09/21/202203/09/2022 5 MIN READ 

We are all sun-kissed.Think again if that sounds frivolous to you!Understanding our connection to sunlight is essential if we are to achieve optimal metabolic health and happiness—a connection that has been developed over billions of years.Our 37 trillion cells are dependent on that yellow star in the sky constantly delivering photons—small energy packets—to us through space.To feel our best, our bodies require that energy at the right times and in the right amount.

Sunlight is energetic information that instructs our cells and brains on how to function, just as food is molecular information for our bodies.I didn't become trained about getting sun openness until I completely perceived the direct actual relationship the sun's energy has on the construction and activity of my body.I'll consider it a win if you read this and come away with a better understanding of your body's relationship with sunlight and more motivation to sleep consistently and get direct sunlight in the morning.

The five specific ways in which sunlight directly affects our metabolic health are listed below.

1.Plants are the first step:How Light Makes Glucose In one of nature's most amazing feats, which most of us probably haven't noticed since middle school, plants make glucose molecules directly from the sun's energy.Plants produce simple sugars using photons, water, and carbon dioxide in light-dependent chemical reactions. These simple sugars eventually change into a variety of complex carbohydrates like starch, which they and we use for energy.Our bodies break down these carbohydrates' molecules when we eat them to generate usable energy (ATP).Light-based energy finds its way into the sugar bonds.

Oxygen, which is necessary for aerobic metabolism in every cell in our body, is another byproduct of photosynthesis.We, along with nearly all other living things, would not be able to survive Source if plants on Earth didn't provide this essential gas as a byproduct of their chemical interaction with sunlight.Credit:Getty Images / Vector MinePhotoreceptors:Our eyes are the brain's access point to natural light, and in our retinas are photoreceptors—light-sensitive cells—that receive, are stimulated by, and react to a ray of sunlight.When photoreceptors absorb light, their molecules undergo a minute chemical change, triggering a chain of events that send an electrical impulse to the next neuron and so on, all the way to the suprachiasmatic nucleus (SCN) and other parts of the brain.

How a thought is formed by sunlight:In response to absorbing sunlight, the vitamin A-derived molecule cis-retinal slightly transforms into trans-retinal, triggering a chemical cascade that opens a channel in the cell membrane for nerve conduction to the brain.

Parts of the SCN, which is in the hypothalamus, get excited when they are exposed to light to start genetic, hormonal, and neurotransmitter-mediated processes that change how the brain and nearly all other cells in the body work.

This complex cascade becomes distorted and can have a negative impact on nearly all physiological activities when we are exposed to "irregular photic signals" (think inconsistent light exposure due to erratic sleep or being inside so much that our bodies don't get exposure to the normal cycles of the sun).We tell the SCN the time of day by getting sunlight first thing in the morning and avoiding too much artificial light before bedtime. This helps our bodies time genetic and hormonal signals correctly.

I've seen firsthand the negative effects on health that irregular sleep patterns and lack of sunlight can have.When I was a surgical resident, I worked two to three nights a week as an on-call nurse, staying in the hospital for 24- to 30-hour periods.I would arrive at 5:50 a.m., work all night in the operating room and hospital, stay overnight for any emergencies, and leave around noon the following day.After that, I would drive back to my house, close my shades, and sleep.

There was almost no direct sunlight for many days.And what took place?My body gave out:I quickly developed acne, irritable bowel syndrome, chronic neck pain, more belly fat, and an initial state of perfect health.Even more than usual, I was feeling sad.Every symptom "magically" vanished in about a month when I finally left the surgical field and immediately returned to a more normal sleep schedule, regular sun exposure, better food, and less stress.While modern life makes it extremely difficult to be naturally regulated by light, we are foolish to alter the relationship between biological organisms and the sun that has developed over billions of years.

When I think about how important it is to put my eyes in direct sunlight in the morning, I think about all the tiny photons that travel 92 million miles from the sun and hit my retinal cells, causing tiny structural changes that cause nerve cells to fire. I also think about the signal that my brain receives and the subsequent information that my brain sends to the rest of my body about hormone levels, genetic expression, and chemical signaling.The decisions I make regarding when and how much sunlight my brain receives affect my lived reality.

3.Metabolic Health and the Circadian Rhythm The SCN is the body's master clock or pacemaker.It plays a role in our sleep-wake cycle, which is also known as our circadian rhythm. This cycle has an effect on everything from how much food we eat to our insulin sensitivity, glucose control, and how much energy we use.Our cells have what are known as clock genes, which are responsible for self-regulating their expression on a cycle that is close to 24 hours long. However, the timing of light (and food) can change this pattern.

When rats are exposed to bright light in the morning, they have lower glucose and weight levels, as well as less anxiety and depressive behaviors.However, the majority of us do not receive that optimal exposure.As stated in one paper:Circadian disruption can be caused by a variety of factors, including altered sleeping patterns, exposure to artificial light at night, current social and lifestyle habits like eating or working at night, andThe outcome is detrimental to metabolism.Pancreatic dysfunction—the organ that makes insulin—problems with glucose and fat metabolism, an increased risk of cardiovascular disease, cancer, obesity, and type 2 diabetes, and this lack of alignment with natural light cycles are all contributing factors.

Our involuntary processes, such as digestion and a variety of responses from the nervous system, are also influenced by our master clock.In our most recent newsletter, I talked about how our thoughts affect how we make and use energy.The release of cortisol, a major stress hormone, is controlled by the SCN.Our stress-response system can also be significantly impaired when our circadian rhythm is inconsistent and dysregulated.

Because our stress hormones and our clock genes interact, animal studies indicate that our stress response is time-dependent.Even though more research is required, we are aware that our stress system and circadian rhythm interact.Additionally, metabolic rate and weight are negatively impacted by this interaction's dysregulation.

4.Sunshine, Serotonin, and Mood We are also aware that the sun can have an effect on our mood and that our mood is connected to the health of our metabolism.Major depression with seasonal pattern, formerly known as seasonal affective disorder (SAD), can occur in some people when sun exposure decreases.Changes in mood caused by less sun exposure may be much more subtle in other people.

However, lower serotonin levels are linked to less sunlight exposure.Additionally, there is a connection between increased exposure to natural light and higher serotonin levels.Mood is influenced by serotonin.Although it is unclear exactly how sunlight affects this neurotransmitter, it appears to increase serotonin-1A receptor binding in the brain.Serotonin could also be affected by light through our skin.

Additionally, metabolic regulation and related disease processes are regulated by serotonin.Glucose control appears to be improved and appetite appears to be reduced by increased serotonin signaling.

5.Vitamin D Receptors Can Be Found in Nearly All of Our Cells: The Sun, Vitamin D, and Our Health in the BodyThis micronutrient is found in salmon, mushrooms, trout, and other foods.However, sunlight provides us with the majority of the vitamin D, which is actually a steroid hormone.

Previtamin D3 is made when the skin's vitamin D precursor, 7-dehydrocholesterol, absorbs the sun's UVB energy and undergoes a minute change in the molecule's bonds [see below].After that, it travels to the liver and, ultimately, the kidneys to become its active form.It amazes me how our mood and metabolism are profoundly affected by even the tiniest burst of solar energy or change in molecule shape.


Although vitamin D deficiency is widespread throughout the United States and other countries, it has significant effects on metabolic health.Obesity, insulin resistance, diabetes, and other diseases are all linked to low vitamin D levels.More research is needed into the precise mechanisms by which vitamin D affects metabolic health.In any case, the chemical makes a mitigating difference.Additionally, research indicates that it may enhance beta cell insulin secretion from the pancreas.Even though a lot of labs say anything above 30 ng/mL is normal, many precision medicine doctors say to aim much higher, like

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