Sunny Side Up: Get Your Healthy Glow

For decades now, the mainstream medical establishment has been bombarding us warnings to stay out of the sun! Use a 50 SPF sunscreen! Stay indoors till sunset! Wear a burka at the beach!

But has the case against sun exposure been taken perhaps a bit too far? I certainly think so. With the rise of “sun-o-phobia” what’s gotten lost in the shuffle is the fact that there are actual benefits to sun exposure in limited doses. Recent studies have shown that optimizing your Vitamin D levels may actually help prevent as many as 16 different types of cancers. And the best way to optimize Vitamin D levels? Safe, smart and limited sunscreen-free exposure to the sun! Exposure helps the skin produce the Vitamin D it needs to build bones, quell inflammation, bolster the immune system and protect against cancer (including skin cancer). Now of course this is by no means a license to overdo it, but it consider it permission to step outside and into the sun a bit less fearfully!

So how to use the sun to your advantage? Here’s what I recommend:

Manage your dose. Have a healthy respect for the sun. It is a powerful medicine with potentially dangerous side effects on your skin. Treat it like medication, using the lowest dose necessary, but don’t avoid it completely. And remember, never, ever fall asleep in the sun without protection.

Always avoid sunburn. It is sunburn, not healthy sun exposure that causes problems. Repeated sunburns, especially in children and very fair-skinned people, have been linked to melanoma. Whereas there is no credible scientific evidence that regular, moderate sun exposure causes melanoma or other skin cancers – so prepare your skin and build up tolerance gradually. Start early in the year (spring), or early in the morning before the sun is strongest and slowly build up the amount of time you spend in the sun.

Make your own sunscreen. Boost your “internal sunscreen” by consuming anti-oxidants and beneficial fats. These strengthen skin cells, helping to protect them from sun damage. Eating lots of vegetables and fruits such as blueberries, raspberries, goji berries and pomegranates and supplementing with green powdered mixes and fish oils help prep your body for limited, careful sun exposure.

Get frequent, short exposures. Regular short exposures have been found to be much more effective and safer than intermittent long ones. Note that you cannot generate Vitamin D when sitting behind a glass window, because the UVB rays necessary for Vitamin D production are absorbed by glass. Get 15-30 minutes of unprotected sun exposure 2-4 times a week. Each of us has different needs for unprotected sun exposure to maintain adequate levels of Vitamin D. Depending on your age, what type of skin you have, where you live and what time of the day and year it is, your need will vary. For more specifics, I recommend the tables in The Vitamin D Solution by Dr Michael Holick.

Know when to stop. After your 15-30 minutes of sun-block free time in the sun, you must protect yourself. If you’re going to be out in the sun for longer periods, wear a hat to protect your face and light colored clothing that blocks the sun and keeps you cool. When you do apply sunscreen, use one the fewest chemicals possible.

Check out the recipe…. of your sunscreen that is. What’s in the tube in high doses can be almost as dangerous as the diseases they are said to prevent — so shop smart when it comes to sunscreens. A typical sunscreen product is a chemical assault on your body, many of which contain cancer causing chemicals. According to the Environmental Working Group, the best, as in least toxic sunscreens on the market are ones without PABA, Parabens, Fragrances, Nanoparticles, Retinyl Palmitate (a form of Vit A), Oxybenzone, Benzophenone-3 (B-3) and Amino Benzoic Acid, whose side effects can include a host of health horrors which can effect your heart, hormones and even your DNA!

Buy the good stuff. The best sunscreen is a hat and a shirt. No chemicals to absorb through the skin, no questions about whether they work. But when you are going to be in the sun for long periods, use EWG’s top-rated sunscreens to provide broad-spectrum (UVA and UVB-sunburn) protection with fewer hazardous chemicals that penetrate the skin.

PIONEER IN FUNCTIONAL AND INTEGRATIVE MEDICINEFor Dr. Frank Lipman, health is more than just the absence of disease: it is a total state of physical, mental, emotional, spiritual and social wellbeing. Dr. Lipman is a widely recognized trailblazer and leader in functional and integrative medicine, and he is a New York Times best-selling author of five books, How To Be Well, The New Health Rules, 10 Reasons You Feel Old and Get Fat, Revive and Total Renewal.After his initial medical training in his native South Africa, Dr. Lipman spent 18 months working at clinics in the bush. He became familiar with the local traditional healers, called sangomas, which kindled his interest in non-Western healing modalities.In 1984, Dr. Lipman immigrated to the United States, where he became the chief medical resident at Lincoln Hospital in Bronx, NY. While there, he became fascinated by the hospital’s addiction clinic, which used acupuncture and Chinese medicine to treat people suffering from heroin and crack addiction. Seeing the way these patients responded so positively to acupuncture made him even more aware of the potential of implementing non- Western medicine to promote holistic wellbeing. As a medical student, he was taught to focus on the disease rather than the patient, and now as a doctor he found himself treating symptoms rather than the root causes of illness. Frustrated by the constraints of his training, and the limitations in helping his patients regain true health, he began a journey of discovery to search for the path to meaningful long-term health and wellness.He began studying nutrition, acupuncture, Chinese medicine, herbal medicine, functional medicine, biofeedback, meditation, and yoga. Dr. Lipman founded the Eleven Eleven Wellness Center in 1992, where he combines the best of Western medicine and cutting edge nutritional science with age-old healing techniques from the East. As his patient chef Seamus Mullen told The New York Times, "If antibiotics are right, he'll try it. If it's an anti-inflammatory diet, he’ll do that. He’s looking at the body as a system rather than looking at isolated things."In addition to his practice, Dr. Lipman is the creator of Be Well, an expanding lifestyle wellness brand he founded in 2010 to help people create, sustain and lead healthier lives.