When I say “light”, do you think of the sun, the light coming from your phone/computer screen, or the lights turning on when you flip the switch? Why is light so important? I would say that light is one of the most important things to understand in our journey to optimizing our health. The negative sources of light can be extremely harmful to our health. The positive sources of light can be healing, nurturing, and provide the greatest prescription to our well-being known to us. Light input to our bodies comes in many forms, which I briefly go over in this blogpost. Each living thing has an electrical frequency that makes them unique. (Zappa, 2012) We, as humans, are no different. Our electrical circuit is extremely complex. We have the ability to create energy for ourselves from the sun. Light is absorbed through the skin we have uncovered, our biggest surface area. The most important light absorbed is through our eyes. When sunlight enters our eyes it is turned into an electrical energy that our brain and body can use via the optic nerve to the brain’s suprachiasmatic nucleus (SCN, NIH) Electromagnetic waves are light, light turns into an electrical impulse our body then can use. When sunlight, UV rays, hits our skin it is absorbed into the bloodstream, attaches to hemoglobin molecules, and then travels throughout the body. Light flows through us and plays a vital role of signaling within our bodies.
Let’s start with the basics. Ultraviolet light comes in three different forms. We have UVA, UVB, and UVC. UVA has the highest wavelengths (315-400 nm) of the three UV types, next UVB (280-325 nm), and UVC has the lowest wavelengths (180-280 nm) measured in nanometers. We can’t see UV light with our naked eye but it is very important that we allow our eyes and skin to absorb UVA and UVB light in healthy amounts.
Above is a diagram that shows how each type of light (UV, Visible, and Infrared) penetrates the skin and at what degree. As we can see, UVA, violet, red, and IR light are the most penetrable lights to our skin. Significant amounts of these light types are essential to health and vitality.
We understand visible light better because it contains all the “colors” of light that our naked eyes can see. ROYGBIV: Red, Orange, Yellow, Green, Blue, Indigo, and Violet. When a person wears specific glasses to block out blue/green light frequencies we can immediately see the lack of those colors. That is how “blue/green light blocking glasses” work: they block out the blue/green light which is emitted from our televisions and phones. Our eyes allow us to distinguish the different wavelengths and frequencies as different colors of light.
Infrared light is also a type of light that we can’t see with our naked eye. We associate IR light with heat. When we feel the warmth of the sun we are actually feeling infrared light being absorbed. IR light has high wavelengths, from one mm to 750 nm.
Let’s recap: the three main types of light to remember are UV, Visible, and IR. Throughout the day the sun will provide all three of these light sources in various amounts and time. The sun also provides the ever-so-important Vitamin D. Vitamin D is created by absorption of UVB light through the skin via sunlight. Vitamin D can be synthesized in our body via light during the late morning through mid-afternoon. Position of the sun and time of year determines when Vitamin D synthesis will precisely occur. We need large amounts of natural sunlight in our environment on a daily basis to thrive and allow signaling to occur.
Natural light is the best light! The not-so-basic understanding of light is how it negatively impacts our health and body. Our world and daily lives today are consumed with a toxic amount of non-native light. Light that is emitted from our phones, computer screens, and the light bulbs above is what I will call “artificial light” (AL). AL emits a large amount of blue and green light. Blue and green light have shorter wavelengths than that of red light. One major reason to eliminate and reduce AL, specifically blue and green light, is because it causes a decline and an inhibition in production of melatonin. DHA is also destroyed. DHA, docosahexaenoic acid, is an omega-3 fatty acid. It is essential to our longevity and responsible for the growth, functional development, and maintenance of our brain health. (Horrocks, Yeo, 1999) Blue light at night blocks melatonin production by slowly raising adenosine levels within us. Adenosine assists our bodies with energy transfer within us, tells our bodies when to sleep, and how long to stay asleep. (Huang, Trade, & Hayaishi, 2011) Melatonin production is one of the major ways our body knows it is time to sleep, it regulates inflammatory and immune responses. Melatonin acts as both an activator and inhibitor. Melatonin is our major light hormone. DHA is our “semiconductor” of energy and is found in our neural membranes. (Kruse, 2016)
We have something in our brain and body called our “master clock”. Our “master clock”, neural membranes, consists of the SCN (suprachiasmatic nucleus), our internal, and peripheral (cell) biological clocks. The SCN, which is 20,000+ nerve cells in our hypothalamus, controls our circadian bio-clock. Our master clock uses light to communicate with our body what time of day it is, when to sleep, when to release hormones, how to regulate body temperature, and many other important bodily functions. Light penetrating our eyes is the primary cue that can alter circadian rhythms. It is becoming more mainstream knowledge that AL at night is bad for our health, but that is only the beginning. Simply … AL is altering our master clock which then creates the ability for our body to have abnormal circadian rhythms. Most commonly you will hear about sleep disorders, obesity, diabetes, depression, and mood disorders. What you may not have heard about is how light has the ability to turn on and off genes that control our internal clocks. (NIH, 2016) When our internal clocks are abnormal, our bodies can’t regulate properly which leads to mass confusion within us down to the the cellular level. That “mass confusion” presents differently in each person.
Our culture today revolves around immediate responses, electronics, new technologies, and always being available. Technology started to boom in the 1950s when electronic technology became digital. Shortly after the technology revolution the beginning of autoimmune and neurodegenerative diseases became increasingly more prevalent. When a body is under mass confusion disease is inevitable. There is countless research that has come out and continuing to emerge proving the negative effects of AL and electromagnetics on our health, vitality, and longevity. When talking about light especially, your environment will determine your health. The more AL, and non-native electromagnetic forces (nn-EMF), you’re subject to, the more confusion your body will have. If you want to have optimal health you must eliminate/extremely reduce AL during all hours, but especially after the sun has set. Solutions and ideas to eliminate/reduce AL, specifically blue/green light frequencies include:
- If you wear glasses get BluTech with your Rx lenses to block out blue light. (I had BluTech put into a pair of frames to wear in class, at night, etc. and I love them!) Crizal also makes lenses called Prevencia for Rx glasses, but they do not block nearly as much blue light.
- Wear a pari of blue/green light blockers after sunset! Big fashion statement! Ha (especially if you are watching TV, lights are on in your home, etc.) DEWALT DW0714 Laser Enhancement Glasses
- Replace your LED, fluorescent, etc. lights with red light bulbs.
- At the very least…replace your ‘energy-efficient’ aka toxic radiation bulbs with Edison bulbs. An incandescent Edison bulb has frequencies far more similar to natural sunlight than the standard fluorescent bulbs. If you want to be really romantic, break out the candles instead! Candles won’t suppress your melatonin production nearly as much.
- Utilize programs such as f.lux on your computer or device to filter out blue/green light.
- Order a filter screen for your phone. LowBlueLights offers a tinted screen cover for your phone! See affiliate link!
- Use salt rock lamps as an alternative light source. BONUS: improved air quality by the natural negative ion generation. Positive ions are given off by electronics, TVs, microwaves, etc. The negative ions neutralize the positive ions and cleanse the air. The link below will give you options of 1-10lb salt rock lamps without a dimmer, stay away from dimmer switches! 5 Pound Himalayan Salt Lamp – Great Home Decor Bath House Inspired Incandescent Salt Lamps – Working as Ionizer and Air Purifiers – Made with All Natural Minerals and Salts
Hopefully, now you understand how light can affect your life and ways to diminish the negative effects of unnecessary AL. Natural sunlight really is the best healer!! Let’s get back to talking about the healing properties of UV, VIS, and IR light. Foremost, just be outside and enjoy nature! Making a conscious effort to spend more time outside is a great first step, not to mention you’re grounded with Earth. Leave the sunscreen at home and make sure that you are exposing as much skin as possible to increase surface area sun exposure. Yes… I did just say that. Side Note: most all sunscreens contain toxic chemicals, carcinogens, and also block UV rays from helping you create Vitamin D. If you wear contacts, glasses, or sunglasses regularly, I encourage you to do without. If you regularly wear protective eyewear: slowly increase time without sunglasses over the course of a couple weeks; simultaneously increasing seafood, DHA, and healthy omega-3 intake. Contacts, glasses, and sunglasses block your eye’s ability to absorb UV light. Remember when I said light tells your body what time of day it is and helps regulate all hormonal changes? Now imagine the amount of people that wear prescription contacts and glasses every day or have had permanent lenses placed in their eye(s) (corrective eye surgery. That is roughly 60ish% of people in the world. 60ish% of people’s bodies are functioning at a suboptimal level. Giving our eyes the ability to see sunlight, for appropriate times throughout the day, allows our entire body and all its cells know what time it is and what bodily functions to regulate. This is the most important part of this blogpost to understand!! There are a multitude of benefits that come close to also being that important. I will go over the benefits and differences between morning (AM) sun, mid-day sun, and afternoon (PM) sun in our next blogpost. Until then, enlighten your life!
Circadian Rhythms Fact Sheet. (n.d.). Retrieved February 20, 2016, from https://www.nigms.nih.gov/Education/Pages/Factsheet_CircadianRhythms.aspx
Horrocks, L. A., & Yeo, Y. K. (1999, September). Result Filters. Retrieved May 15, 2016, from http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/10479465
Huang, Z. L., Trade, Y., & Hayaishi, O. (2011). Result Filters. Retrieved May 15, 2016, from http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21401496
Kruse, J. (2015, October). Facebook logo. Retrieved February 28, 2016, from https://www.facebook.com/drjackkruse/photos/pb.239883926075969.-2207520000.1455552918./1029531397111214/?type=3
NIH. (2016, April 6). Circadian Rhythms Fact Sheet. Retrieved May 15, 2016, from https://www.nigms.nih.gov/Education/Pages/Factsheet_CircadianRhythms.aspx
Olszewski, D. (1999, October). Consumer Health Articles: LIGHT AND HEALTH. Retrieved February 20, 2016, from http://www.consumerhealth.org/articles/display.cfm?ID=20000102232127
Zappa, A. (2012, July 16). What’s your frequency? Retrieved February 20, 2016, from http://www.wellbeing.com.au/blog/whats-your-frequency/