Thursday, 6 June 2013

Enjoying the sun - paleo style

Paleo is so much more than just about diet. In the Paleo Solution Robb Wolf talks about food, but also exercise, stress, sleep, and spending time with fellow human beings. At the moment in the UK we're experiencing probably the longest sunny spell we've had in a couple of years. Warm and sunny after a year or more of near constant rain is a welcome thing. We Brits are used to our inconsistent weather and when good weather comes our way we yearn to be out in the sunshine, making the most of it whilst it lasts. I'm combining our natural tendency with some paleo-based advise.

Safely enjoying the sunshine - do I need sun screen?

"Prehistoric men and women didn't wear sun screen!"

There wasn't a gurt hole in the ozone layer in prehistory! 

Sunshine. UVB. It lets our bodies produce Vitamin D but also burns our skin and damages DNA. The key to enjoying sunshine safely is that we need SOME exposure to sunshine without sun screen blocking the light necessary for us to make the very important Vitamin D BUT not so much that it damages the skin. Either limit the time spent in the sunshine, cover up, or wear sunscreen (after getting a bit of exposure to produce some Vitamin D). I found this advice that has been signed up to by parts of the NHS and some important charities. The gist of it is pretty much - Vitamin D is important, get some sun exposure between 11-3 during the summer, but by some we mean about 10-15 minutes if you're white (times will be longer for those who aren't white, but they don't provide any further guidelines). My personal experience is that if I build up my exposure then I can gradually tolerate longer periods in the sun without burning. This seems to be the experience of Loren Cordain as well judging by his second book. 

What shall I do in the sunshine?

It's not terribly paleo to spend your sunshine time sunbathing. It is a brilliant opportunity to get outside and PLAY. Have a kick about, throw a frisby, play tennis or play golf. Or if you're feeling adventurous then go for a hike or bike ride, or go horseriding, go climbing, or canoeing, or sailing, or walk a camel (or the dog). 

If you can't get far from home then maybe just go for a walk locally, possibly even barefoot. Or do some yoga outside. Or have a picnic in the garden (with a friend or two if possibly). Spend some time watching the wildlife around you. Take time to notice the song birds in the garden, the amasing way that plants seem to almost grow before you eyes at the moment. If you're lucky enough to be able to get further from home to watch wildlife, please do. Understanding the natural world around us was vital to our ancestors, and doing now helps slow you down and reduces stress (which hey - is a good thing). Nature is also beautiful and a little bit of fresh air and sunshine does wonders for one's well being. 

Last but not least I want to suggest that people use the sunshine as an opportunity to get out to local events, support local businesses and get involved in your local community. Community was vital to our ancestors and it's still hugely important to our mental health. 

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