When people ask me about our trip to Peru, the first thing I say is, “Altitude trumps latitude.”
Although Peru is a large country, it's given the measurement of 690 km from the equator.
In my brain, equator = heat. ‘Heat’ was so locked into my brain, even though it was their winter, and I read the coolish forecasted temperatures for the various areas, and saw how indigenous Peruvians dressed (what a great clue!), it still didn’t register how chilly it would be.
Couple that (the need of warm clothing) with their more constant daytime/nighttime balance throughout the year (i.e. closer to the 12 light/12 dark hrs/day), I wondered how people got enough sunshine to be healthy. And by ‘people’, I mean the people of today. Those who practice the old ways, or lived years ago, are/were outside much of the time, and because they dress in layers which can be removed, do/did get sun exposure.
Those who live there today, are very much like us, working during sunlight hours and missing what our bodies need to be healthy.
So, other than spending summers in a warmer climate AND making it a priority to get some unsunscreened sun, how do we give what our bodies need when it’s not bathing suit weather?
Every day is a good day to be alive, whether the sun's shining or not.
My skin is 24 karat gold when a sun hit it.
To benefit from the sun, sunshine needs to enter our eyes and/or our skin. In the winter, even getting outside when bundled from head to toe, some enters through our eyes. Albeit an insufficient amount, it is still some.
1. Sunlight is thought to trigger the release of serotonin, a factor in depression and seasonal pattern (formerly known as Seasonal Affective Disorder). Since we are learning that most of our serotonin is produced in the gut, one way to offset this is to have a healthy gut so more serotonin is produced.
As we learned last week, there are many ways to increase our gut health, such as reduce processed food, eat living fermented food, eat high fiber foods, move more, relax more, and allow more healthy bacteria into your system.
2. Our best way to get vitamin D is through the sun. Vitamin D is good for immunity, bones, muscles, lungs, heart, kidneys, mood, weight loss, and cognitive function. But there are difficulties in getting enough quality sunshine to produce the necessary vitamin D. Some factors are: the use of sunblock, some parts of the day and latitudes allow for poorer quality exposure, and the darker your skin, the longer you need to be in the sun to gain the amount needed (but you’ll also have less chance of melanoma).
Taking a vitamin D supplement is the easiest course of action. How much? I’m not sure. The number was all over the place. So much so, that I’m not comfortable giving suggested number. Speak to a nutritionist.
3. Light therapy. Purchasing a light therapy box might be a good alternative. And it doesn’t need to be a box that you need to sit in front of. There are also visors that can be worn so it takes zero time from you day.
I haven’t researched light boxes vs light visors but I had a friend that swore by hers to the point, when she was at an out of town meeting and was late arriving to the morning meeting, she wore her visor at the meeting. She told them, “You get me looking like this or you get me cranky. I think this is better. Don’t you?”
4. Adding sunshine into someone else’s life. Okay, this may not increase your serotonin nor your vitamin D levels but might lighten your mood (and mine as well). We have received some candid photos for our website (thanks!) and would like more (yes, we are greedy that way). So if you have any photos of kids in particular or people in general focused on doing something, of family gatherings, of people and their pets, of people in movement, of people feeling tired, eating, laughing, crying, angry, whatever else, we would love to share them with the world.
Attach your photos here and you will be entered to win one of three weighted animals(one hippo, one moose and one puppy). Each photo you send in gets you an entry.
Contest closes on October 31, 11:59 pm.
Sunshine, serotonin, vitamin D and happiness to you this week.
P.S. Ha-ha. I wish! For those of you who are curious, no, my trip to Peru was not a business write-off. Perhaps there was a way I could’ve done it but it was purely a bucket list trip.
Now, it’s time to plan another one.
Have you done a bucket list trip/activity or have one in mind? Share with me where you went or want to go, or what you did or want to do, and why. That might give me some great options. Thanks!
Websites used in this article
https://www.tripsavvy.com/location-of-peru-4135825 Peru’s latitude
https://www.healthline.com/health/depression/benefits-sunlight#outlook (below is a direct quote from this link)
Exposure to the ultraviolet-B radiation in the sun’s rays causes a person’s skin to create vitamin D. According to one study from 2008, in a 30-minute period while wearing a swimsuit, people will make the following vitamin D levels:
50,000 international units (IUs) in most Caucasian people
20,000 to 30,000 IUs in tanned people
8,000 to 10,000 IUs in dark skinned people
https://www.westonaprice.org/vitamin-d-problems-with-the-latitude-hypothesis/ There may not be a strong relationship between latitude and vitamin D deficiency.
https://www.brainmdhealth.com/blog/9-vital-functions-vitamin-d/ Nine vital functions of Vit D
https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/seasonal-affective-disorder/in-depth/seasonal-affective-disorder-treatment/art-20048298 Choosing a light therapy box