The importance of fresh air and sunshine for good health

Most people today spend their working lives in an air conditioned building, under artificial light and probably sitting a desk staring at a computer screen most of the time.

Do you think this is good for our health? You don’t need an expert to tell you the answer! It’s not. In fact, it might be even worse than we think.

The coronavirus has made us aware of the importance of having a strong immune system. There’s good evidence that one of the key factors in a strong immune system is Vitamin D.

There’s a growing amount of research showing just how crucial Vitamin D is in maintaining good health. A lack of vitamin D not only makes us more susceptible to viruses but also to all kinds of other diseases, including cancer.

So, how do you get enough Vitamin D?

Well, the best way is to spend time outside in the sunshine. Our bodies can make an abundant amount of Vitamin D naturally by the action of sunlight on the skin.

The problem is, hardly anybody today spends enough time in the sun. And when we do, we’ve been warned so much about the dangers of skin cancer, that we plaster ourselves with sunscreen to keeps the sun’s rays out.

(Locking everybody up in their homes for weeks on end, and limiting time spent outside due to fears about spreading the virus, is not the smartest idea when it comes to strengthening people’s immunity. But health experts are more focused on vaccines – and other more profitable ways of controlling the virus – rather than helping people to build strong immune systems. There’s no money for big pharma in having a population with strong immune systems.)

One of my favourite old books about health is Dr Thomas John Graham’s “Sure Methods of Improving Health and Prolonging Life” published in 1812. He recommends spending at least two hours outside in the fresh air and sunshine every day.

They didn’t know about Vitamin D (or any vitamins) in Dr Graham’s day. But they did know the importance of fresh air and sunshine. Even in England, where Dr Graham lived, where there is not much sunshine in winter, you can get enough Vitamin D just from being outside for two hours a day. On a cloudy day, you obviously get less ultra-violet rays from the sun, but you do still get some.

Until the Industrial Revolution, most people worked outside. That was just how life was. Then came factories and offices. People were forced to work long hours inside, and their health suffered. Now, we’ve moved to the online revolution, where people work in front of computers.

I don’t even want to get into the possible dangers of radiation from wireless technology. With 5G wireless now being rapidly introduced, that’s a subject for another time.

Getting outside in the fresh air and sunshine is never a fad!

You simply can’t go wrong by doing this. There’s so much we don’t understand about the human body but we do know that we are designed to move around outside – not be cooped up all day indoors.

This is one reason why I don’t like exercising in gyms. You are inside in stale air under artificial light. I prefer to walk for an hour outside the fresh air, preferably in a park or other natural surroundings.

Getting back to Vitamin D. While sunshine is the best way to get it (and the only way if you are vegan) you can also get Vitamin D from foods. In areas such as northern Europe, where they have long dark winters, people eat a lot of oily fish such as herrings, sardines, mackerel and salmon.

These oily fish are one of the best food sources of Vitamin D. I eat sardines for lunch several times a week, for this reason.

Another good source of Vitamin D is egg yolks. Many people have reduced the amount of eggs they eat, due to fears about cholesterol. (This another subject for a future email.) In fact, eggs are an absolute powerhouse of nutrition. They are almost the perfect food (along with fresh, raw, unpasteurized milk).

If you were to eat two eggs and a can of sardines or other oily fish every day, you could get enough Vitamin D from foods. You couldn’t go wrong doing this, even if you get out in the sun on a regular basis.

Another great source of Vitamin D is cod liver oil. I have mixed feelings about this. The experts who recommend it are usually selling cod liver oil from their websites. So I tend to tune out when I read advice from anybody selling anything. This might seem a bit extreme, but it’s difficult to be objective when you have a financial incentive to promote something.

As a child, my mother often gave us a teaspoon of cod liver oil every morning in winter. We were healthy enough, so it might have been effective.

As a last resort, you can take Vitamin D supplements. I’m a sceptic when it comes to taking synthetic vitamins, but if you do decide to take it, look for Vitamin D3 made from lanolin from sheep’s wool. This appears to be the most natural and beneficial form.

Just get outside more!

But above all, the best and simplest way to get your Vitamin D is just by spending time outside in the fresh air and sunshine. Do whatever it takes, within the limitations of your work responsibilities and lifestyle, to get outside in the sun.

You can build up a store of Vitamin D during the summer, which can last during the less sunny days of the winter.

Just 15 – 20 minutes a day in the sun is enough during summer. You don’t need to overdo it. In winter, you need longer. But even in winter, if you walk outside for 1 – 2 hours a day, you will at least get some exposure to UV light. And if you eat oily fish and eggs regularly, you should be well on your way to getting enough Vitamin D.

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