Everyone knows that prolonged exposure to sunlight can damage your skin. Over time, that can increase your risk of melanoma and other types of skin cancer.
That’s why it’s essential to wear sunscreen, hats and sunglasses with lenses that block UV light and to avoid the sun between 11 a.m. and 2 p.m. — the period when it emits the most substantial UV radiation.
Everything I wrote above is taken as common sense.
The problem is, it’s mostly bullshit. And in some cases, it’s the opposite of what you should be doing.
So in this edition of the newsletter, I’ll explain why you should increase your exposure to sunlight, how diet impacts your skin’s natural defense mechanisms against radiation, and what I’ve done to prevent sunburns despite no longer using sunscreen.
I’ll also share some non-toxic sunscreen brands you can use if you plan on exposing your skin to sunlight for extended periods.
Before we get started, I’d like to thank WaveBlock for sponsoring this month’s newsletter. WaveBlock makes the EMF-blocking stickers for phones and headphones that we’ve been using for several months. Scroll to the bottom to learn more about WaveBlock.
My Love/Hate Relationship With Sunscreen
When I was a kid, I suffered from terribly itchy allergies caused by sun exposure. As a result, whenever our family would go on vacation to the beach, I would spend most of my time in the shade under an umbrella instead of playing in the water with my younger brother.
But at some point during my teen years, I stopped having an allergic reaction to sun exposure. Instead, if I stayed in the sun for too long, I would simply get a good old fashioned sunburn.
Since my parents knew about the dangers of sunburns in the context of developing skin cancer, they were adamant about applying liberal amounts of sunscreen and covering my skin with clothing.
But the older I got, the more I hated the feeling of sticky sunscreen on my skin.
At the same time, I was convinced that a tan was the first sign of skin damage and should be avoided at all costs.
The Importance of Sun Exposure
It wasn’t until I started doing research into the effects of sunlight on the human circadian rhythm and hormone production that I learned about the endocrine-disrupting chemicals found in most sunscreens. But the more I learned, the more I started to question everything I thought I had known about sun exposure.
You can learn more about those topics in my recently updated article on the eight core principles of a healthy lifestyle, but here are the key areas directly influenced by sunlight:
- Supports a healthy circadian rhythm, daytime alertness and sleep.
- Triggers vitamin D production.
- Supports testosterone production.
- Influences the release of hormones, including serotonin and melatonin.
- Improved calcium absorption.
- Triggers the production of melanin.
- Reduces the risk of developing seasonal affective disorder (SAD).
Evidently, it’s critical for our health to get sufficient exposure to sunlight.
In fact, early humans and our Paleolithic ancestors were exposed to sunlight for millions of years without wearing sunscreen, so you would think that the human body would be able to handle it without developing significant health issues, such as skin cancer.
Keep in mind that sunscreen wasn’t invented until 1938 by Franz Greiter, a Swiss chemistry student who got sunburnt while climbing a mountain in Austria. And it didn’t become popular until the 1990s.
- In 1975, only 10 in 100,000 people were diagnosed with skin cancer. In 2019 that number had more than doubled to 27.
- In 1930, the lifetime risk of developing invasive melanoma was less than 0.1%. In 2020, the risk was over 1.8%.
So how is it possible that despite the significantly higher prevalence of sunscreen use, more awareness of the alleged dangers of sun exposure, and a much more significant percentage of our population leaving pitchforks and tractors behind in favor of computers and office chairs, we are experiencing massively higher rates of skin cancer?
A recent study even concluded that office workers are at greater risk of melanoma than those who work outside.
That doesn’t make sense…
…unless the problem isn’t sunlight, but changes to our lifestyle that have made our skin more prone to damage by UV radiation.
Factors That Negatively Impact Our Skin’s Protective Mechanisms
The human body is an incredibly complex machine. So it would be naive to point to a single factor as the reason for our inability to handle sunlight without burning.
However, based on everything I’ve learned over the past few years and the dramatic changes I’ve seen among the Kummer tribe, I believe nutrition plays a significant role in our ability to withstand damage from sunlight.
Nutrition directly impacts how our bodies handle inflammation and cell damage.
As I mentioned earlier, I used to be incredibly prone to sunburns. It wasn’t until I made changes to my diet by replacing processed carbohydrates, most plants, and polyunsaturated fatty acids (in the form of vegetable oils) with saturated fats from animal sources and organ meats that I noticed a significantly improved resilience to sunlight.
As it turns out, one of the most essential compounds in the skin’s defense arsenal against UV rays is melanin (the pigment that gives you a tan). To maintain healthy levels of melanin, the body requires sufficient amounts of vitamin A (retinol), a fat-soluble vitamin abundant in organ meats like liver.
These days, I can stay outside and be exposed to sunlight for several hours before my skin shows any redness at all. But even then, my skin recovers overnight without peeling off. My wife and the kids have noticed similar improvements, and we attribute that 100% to changes in our diet.
As a result, I never use sunscreen when going about my regular routine, including working in the yard, walking the dog, playing with the kids or exercising outdoors.
The more I expose myself to sunlight, the more resilient my skin becomes and the longer I can stay outside without using sunscreen.
However, if I’m on the beach all day, I usually apply sunscreen after a couple of hours because my skin isn’t used to that prolonged exposure. A handful of sunscreen brands on the market don’t use toxic chemicals and are thus relatively safe. Check out the personal care products section on this page for links to the products we use.
In a nutshell, you should use mineral-based sunscreens that don’t have fragrances or ingredients that contain the phrases “benz” or “phen” anywhere in the ingredient name. Infamous examples of such endocrine-disrupting chemicals include Benzophenone (BP) and 4-Methylbenzylidene (4-MBC).
How I Enjoy The Sun Safely
I try to expose my skin to sunlight daily, starting at sunrise.
Every morning, I sit on our porch and soak in the first rays of sunlight — a vital sign for my body to fire up the engine.
Around lunchtime, I take off my shirt and stay outside for 20-30 minutes, or longer if I plan on working in the yard or going for a walk with the dog. I repeat that process in the afternoon before watching the sunset to prepare my body for a good night’s rest.
My wife and kids follow a similar pattern, but in a slightly less structured form.
By doing this regularly, we’ve built up our tolerance to UV radiation. That has enabled us to stay in the sun for extended periods without having to use sunscreen.
The other day, we spent a couple of hours at a pool party. While most people around us ensured they were adequately covered in (primarily toxic) sunscreen, we just enjoyed the sun without any issues.
How You Can Improve Your Tolerance to Sunlight
If you’ve been a sunscreen warrior or sun avoider in the past, I recommend a few simple steps to improve your tolerance to UV radiation without getting burned in the process, including:
- Stop consuming food that your great-grandmother wouldn’t have recognized. I’m referring to processed junk food and industrial seed oils. When you consume lower amounts of inflammatory polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs) and highly processed carbs, your skin health and sunlight tolerance will improve.
- Include foods in your diet that are naturally rich in preformed vitamin A (retinol), such as beef liver. If you can’t stomach the taste of organ meat, consider supplementing with freeze-dried beef liver capsules, such as the ones we sell at MK Supplements. (Use code BLOGLOVE10 to get 10% off.)
- Try to watch the sunrise and sunset every day.
- Slowly increase your exposure to midday sunlight without wearing sunscreen. Start with 15-20 minutes per day and slowly increase your exposure without getting burned.
- Stop using personal care products that contain toxic chemicals (and toxic sunscreen in particular).
If you do that, you’ll not only be able to enjoy more of the sun, but you’ll likely also improve your sleep and happiness, and increase your levels of vital hormones such as vitamin D and testosterone.
New Articles and Videos You Might Have Missed
Since the last newsletter, I’ve been busy creating new content and updating older articles with fresh information, including the following:
- New: Collagen Powder Benefits (Facts and Myths)
- Updated and expanded: 11 Best Collagen Supplements (That I Tested)
- Updated and expanded: How to Live a Healthy Lifestyle (8 Core Principles)
- Updated and expanded: Free Range vs. Pastured Eggs (Benefits and Nutritional Value)
- Video: How to Exercise When You’re Over 40 (Interview with Zane Griggs)
- Video: Top 5 Gadgets to Block Electromagnetic Radiation
- Video: Delicious Ways to Eat Beef Liver (That You’ll Love)
Also, I updated my article on how I’ve increased my heart rate variability (HRV) by including breathing techniques in my wellness routine. I’m using Othership* (a guided breathwork app) to assist with that.
Check them out and let me know if you’d like to see more of those videos. Also, let me know if you’d like me to address specific topics via such videos — I have a few ideas but would love to get your input as well!
More About WaveBlock (EMF-Blocking Stickers)
While sensible exposure to ultraviolet (UV) radiation from sunlight can positively impact our health and well-being, other types of radiation are not as good for us. I’m referring to electromagnetic fields (EMFs) created by electronic devices, household appliances, power lines, cellular towers and WiFi routers (to name a few sources).
While it’s nearly impossible to escape man-made EMFs completely, there are certain things you can do to reduce your exposure to them. I’ve been using stickers from Waveblock on my iPhone and AirPods to shield my body from these harmful EMFs.
If you want to give WaveBlock a try, make sure you use code KUMMER15 to get 15% off your purchase.
All the best,
I’m a healthy living and technology enthusiast.
On this blog, I share in-depth product reviews, actionable information and solutions to complex problems in plain and easy-to-understand language.