Bit of a strange question but it might be one of the most important questions you can ask yourself. Come with me on a journey of wonder and insight as we delve into the world of light and its profound effects on your mind, body, and life around you.
Before I tell you about light and its effect on almost every part of our body (and life), let’s talk about information. Information is an interesting word. If you break it down, in-form-ation. When something is in the right formation it becomes the right information. Let’s think about food. Food can be seen as information. When you give your body the right information (correct nutrient) you get the right formation (cells). Are you following me? Again when food is in the right formation it produces the right information.
If you want to understand the universe you need to start thinking in terms of energy and information.
If you want to understand love you need to start thinking in terms of energy and information.
So if we apply this same methodology to light – light also becomes information. When you receive the right formation of light your body has the right information to obtain/maintain homeostasis.
In biology, homeostasis is the state of steady internal, physical, and chemical conditions maintained by living systems. This is the condition of optimal functioning for the organism and includes many variables, such as body temperature and fluid balance, being kept within certain pre-set limits (homeostatic range). Other variables include the pH of extracellular fluid, the concentrations of sodium, potassium, and calcium ions, as well as that of the blood sugar level, and these need to be regulated despite changes in the environment, diet, or level of activity. Each of these variables is controlled by one or more regulators or homeostatic mechanisms, which together maintain life.
Consider the sun – a beautiful life-giving ball of liquid plasma. Endlessly spewing out photons – energy beams of light we call sunlight. Each one of those photons exists in a particle or wave state. Light is the only thing we know that can exist in two completely different states (waves/particles). The sun is responsible for everything we know. It has brought to life all life on this planet. Everything grows because of the sun – because of its light – because of its energy and information.
Therefore light and energy from the sun are a very precious nutrient. I think everybody knows that we can produce vitamin D from the sun. A quick word about vitamin D.
Vitamin D comes in two main forms – Vitamin D2 (also known as ergocalciferol) and Vitamin D3 cholecalciferol). Vitamin D from the diet, or from skin synthesis, is biologically inactive. It is activated by two protein enzyme hydroxylation steps, the first in the liver and the second in the kidneys. This means we can not actually classify it as a vitamin (despite the name) it’s actually a hormone. I’m not going to go into too much detail but vitamin D is essential for a healthy life. Many cases of depression were actually linked to low vitamin D levels. So if you are feeling low before you pop a pill or diagnose yourself with depression try spending some time in the sun each day 😉
|Low||30 nmol/l or 12 ng/ml or below|
|Adequate||50 nmol/l or 20 ng/ml or above|
|High||125 nmol/l or 50 ng/ml or above|
Biological reaction to light is nothing new, there are numerous examples of light-induced photochemical reactions in biological systems. Vitamin D synthesis in our skin is an example of a photochemical reaction. The power density of sunlight is only 105 mW/cm2 yet when ultraviolet B (UVB) rays strike our skin, it converts a universally present form of cholesterol, 7-dehydrocholesterol to vitamin D3. We normally experience this through our eyes which are obviously photosensitive. Our vision is based upon light hitting our retinas and creating a chemical reaction that allows us to see. Throughout the course of evolution, photons have played a vital role in photo-chemically energizing certain cells.
So what does it all mean?
If we consider everything I have just spoken about – we know that nutrition can also be seen as information. The right information produces the right formation in our bodies. Light is a form of nutrition (if not one of the most important forms). This means when we spend time in the sun we are giving our bodies important nutrients. So it should be fairly obvious that spending time in the sun is essential for a healthy life. I personally aim for at least 30 minutes of sun exposure every day, on as much of my naked skin as possible.
Now we have spoken about nutrients and information but just like you can get bad nutrients you can also get bad information (misinformation). When we eat bad food such as low-quality, chemical-laden, highly processed foods, hydrogenated oils, refined sugars, etc we are giving our bodies the wrong information. Therefore they can not produce the right formation. If this continues for too long our cells won’t function properly they break down and this is the beginning of sickness and disease.
What would good light information look like?
I’m so glad you asked 🙂 light comes in different wavelengths. This is what differentiates the colours.
|The Visible Light Spectrum|
|Red||625 – 740|
|Orange||590 – 625|
|Yellow||565 – 590|
|Green||520 – 565|
|Cyan||500 – 520|
|Blue||435 – 500|
|Violet||380 – 435|
We have a special region in our brain called the suprachiasmatic nuclei (SCN). It is found in the hypothalamus, situated directly above the optic chiasm. It is responsible for controlling circadian rhythms. The neuronal and hormonal activities it generates regulate many different body functions in a 24-hour cycle. It is an incredibly important part of our body and its functionality. Correct SCN functioning is vital for a healthy life. The SCN is controlled by light. This means in order to regulate our circadian rhythms we need the right light at the right times and in the right amounts.
For arguably many millennia humans have risen with the sun and gone to rest with the consequent setting of the sun. This means our natural biological rhythms were dictated and in sync with nature – with the natural rising and falling of the sun (actually the rotation of the earth but let’s keep it poetic).
This means waking up with the sun and getting as much natural light in the morning is crucial for optimizing health. This is something I do every single day. Likewise getting enough natural evening light also is important for correct circadian regulations. Pretty obvious when you think about it – be as natural as possible 🙂 Be outside in the sun as much as you can (don’t get sunburnt!) We all have different amounts of melanin which means a different tolerance for sun exposure. Find yours and enjoy the life-giving benefits of our beautiful liquid ball of fire.
Red, Blue & Violet
Perhaps you have heard about the dangers of blue light or the healing power of red light. Allow me to shed a little light on the subject. In the mornings and throughout the day we receive (hopefully) the full spectrum of light from the sun. Blue light (and also green light) is the frequency of light we associate with daytime and wakefulness. So when we wake up in the morning and receive sunlight that light tells our brain it’s morning and removes melatonin (sleep hormone) and starts to produce cortisol (stress hormone). This is very important for a healthy sleep-wake cycle. You should try to get into the sun as soon as you can after waking. This is the original cup of coffee 🙂
The red light we receive from the sun is associated with the healing benefits of the sun (it’s all-important but for the sake of brevity). Now we have Red Light & Near-Infrared Light therapy which has been scientifically proven in peer-reviewed clinical trials to have anti-aging effects on our skin, help with neurological disease, fight depression and anxiety, increase fat loss, speed recovery from exercise, improve your sleep, increase strength and endurance, combat some autoimmune conditions, fight hair loss, and speed healing from injury, all with little to no side effects.
UVA, UVB & UVC would be the ultra-violet wavelengths. The A – B – C is the different wavelengths. A is the longest and C is the shortest. Now again this light spectrum is not bad for you, in some clinical trials it’s proved to be highly beneficial. However normally UVB is the wavelength that is responsible for sunburns and skin cancer. The problem comes from over-exposure to chemicals, toxins, and nutrition. Yes, nutrition is an important component when it comes to absorbing light, defense against harmful light, and synthesizing light (more on that in another post). Nutrition affects every level of our being! This is why finding a good nutrition coach is so important!
Just like you get junk food you get junk light – remember nutrients are a form of information. Junk food is bad information that will cause a bad formation of your cellular structure. An organism is only as healthy as its cells. Similarly junk light is a bad form of information causing bad information in the cellular structure.
“Junk light” refers to specific wavelengths of [visible] light that artificial light sources — such as LEDs and compact fluorescents (CFLs) — emit. These light sources lack many of the sun’s frequencies that our bodies and brains need, and yet, they amplify the amount of junk light they emit beyond what humans have evolved to handle.
Junk light can come in many forms some of them being extremely harmful and hazardous to our health. All junk light can be found in artificial lighting. Again as we move away from the natural we become more unhealthy and sick
Dave Asprey, the Father of Biohacking, coined the term junk light to emphasize the negative impacts that overexposure to blue, green, and violet wavelengths can have on a person’s health and performance. He says, “Junk light is worse than junk food; it’s the high fructose corn syrup of lighting.” In other words, exposing yourself to artificial junk light rather than natural sunlight or incandescent light, which is much warmer than the light found in LEDs and fluorescents, is akin to consuming spoonfuls of sugar versus a nutritious meal.
The reason why junk light is arguably worse than junk food is that it has become so ingrained in our everyday lives. In fact, studies show that the average American spends more than 92% of his or her time indoors under artificial lighting. People are also getting more screen time than ever before, which means even more exposure to junk light via LED screens. Overexposure to artificial junk light, in turn, negatively impacts your energy, mood, and performance.
How Does Junk Light Affect Your Health During the Daytime?
Inside our eyes are a class of light-sensitive eye cells, called ‘intrinsically photosensitive retinal ganglion cells’ (ipRGCs). These cells absorb light — especially blue light — in order to properly set our circadian rhythm in accordance with the rise and fall of the sun. That’s why when sunlight shines through your window each morning, your body temperature naturally starts to rise, and you begin to feel more alert. Conversely, when the sun goes down, the human body should naturally start to decrease in temperature and prepare to sleep.
With that said, we are no longer solely relying on sunlight and fire like our ancestors. Numerous technological advances in lighting have led us to the world we now live in, where the lights are always on and our bodies don’t really know what time it is anymore.
Think about it. The sun naturally changes its position in the sky throughout the day until it descends below the horizon at nighttime. If you were outside during the day, your body would be exposed to different temperatures of light depending on where the sun was located at any given time. However, since most people spend more time indoors than outdoors, we are now getting more exposure to artificial lighting than natural sunlight.
Note that there is an inverse relationship between the wavelength of light (measured in nm) and the amount of energy that specific wavelengths contain. Light rays with longer wavelengths contain less energy, and those with shorter wavelengths have more energy. LEDs and fluorescents are notorious for emitting high levels of blue light (short wavelengths).
Overexposure to blue light can have several negative impacts on your health and performance during the daytime, such as:
- Lack of energy
- Digital eye strain
- Difficulty focusing
- Decrease in productivity
- Circadian rhythm disruption
- Greater risk of getting macular degeneration (the leading cause of blindness) over time
Unfortunately, most office buildings (where people spend 8-10 hours a day) are flooded with LEDs and/or fluorescents. Our gyms, grocery stores, airports, and malls all use artificial light sources too. They look great for commercial purposes — and may even trick us into buying more! — but junk light does our health zero justice.
In my next post, I will show you some ways to mitigate and repair the damage done by blue light and how to avoid it together.
Considering all the information I have presented I think it’s of vital importance to consider, “are you getting enough light” each day. To truly start to master your health and your life you need to consider the exposure and quality of light each and every day. Sunlight has played a massive role in our evolution as a species and slowly we have crept away into the darkness.
My definition of health is your ability to experience life and life without sunlight is no life at all. Reclaim your birthright of health and vitality and step out into the light. Try to aim for a solid 20-30 minutes (minimum) of wholesome natural light every day. I promise you will start to feel better on every level and if you can kick off your shoes even better 👣
We always have a choice