On one hand, blue light is the greatest health danger in human history. On the other hand, you’d be a corpse without it. Gee…this might take some explanation.
BEFORE READING ON … ARE YOU, LIKE ME, A SENIOR WHO’S INTERESTED IN STAYING HEALTHY FOR YEARS TO COME? IF SO, YOU MIGHT LIKE TO SEE WHAT A SCIENTIST (ME) HAS TO SAY ABOUT HOW TO ACHIEVE IT AT NO EXTRA COST TO YOU, WITHOUT EVEN HAVING TO LEAVE HOME, STARTING HERE: HEALTHY AGING NATURALLY.
Now back to today’s ‘sponsor’ – the color blue…
The Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde of Human Health
(With apologies to Robert Louis Stevenson.)
Briefly, ‘Dr. Jekyll’ blue is the good citizen. ‘Mr. Hyde’ blue is the murderous criminal he becomes.
Understanding ‘good’ blue vs. ‘bad’ blue is a bit too overwhelming for one post. So I’m going to divvy up this topic into two parts.
Since ‘good’ blue is older – much older – that’s the subject for Part 1 here.
(Part 2 will be forthcoming soon.)
When I say much older, I’m talking about evolutionary time. Specifically, the amount of time Earth has received blue-containing solar radiation. It’s been 5+ billion years, of which ca. 3.2 billion years saw the origin and development of life on the planet.
To make a long story short, we evolved under a full solar spectrum. This means visible light, between violet/blue on one end of the rainbow and red on the other. And it includes invisible light, from ultraviolet (UV) on one end of the spectrum to infrared (IR) on the other.
Even though sunshine appears to be ‘white’ light, here’s how it compares with artificial white lights:
Fake Worries About Sunshine
It almost seems like a bad joke on the part of the medical establishment about the dangers of sunshine.
Unfortunately, the joke’s on us if we believe any of that modern medical myth.
For that reason, you may want to learn the actual facts about the health benefits of sunshine in these two earlier posts:
They’re like a primer on the health benefits you should be getting out of sunshine and why avoiding it will ruin your health and shorten your life.
It’s All About Balance
The colors and intensities of visible light in sunshine are more or less evenly distributed from one end to the other.
Relatively intensities change with seasons, latitudes, and weather.
However, one consistent pattern is the combination of blue with infrared all day long. Although the amount of blue varies somewhat, IR is pretty much about 42% of the spectrum from morning through late afternoon.
The reason I mention that pattern is to make this absolutely crucial point:
DEPEND ON ITS COMBINATION WITH INFRARED LIGHT
Why the Combination of Blue and Infrared?
How blue and IR work together is fascinating – and very complicated.
So I’m going to focus on the two main activities of each ‘color’.
Blue Light Sets Your Cellular Clocks
Everything that goes on in your body is timed. This means you have essentially what are called ‘molecular clocks’ and clock genes to keep every cell running on time.
First off, blue light…
- a. Sets Your Brain Clock in the Morning
Everything about health and longevity depends on exquisite cellular timing.
Properly setting it begins when morning sunshine enters your eyes.
Whether rain or shine, you’ll ‘see’ the combination of the sun’s blue and infrared parts of the spectrum first thing in the morning. That’s what provides the ‘get your day started’ signal for your master brain clock.
This means the absolute BEST way to start every day is to get outside and look toward the sunrise (not directly at the sun, of course – more like about 15 degrees away from it). It only takes a couple of minutes.
- b. Ditto for Skin Clocks
One of the most surprising discoveries about molecular clocks occurred in 2017. It was the discovery that the well-known ‘retinal hormone’ – the eye’s light ‘receiver’, melanopsin – also occurs in human skin.
Melanopsin is one of the key receptors for sensing blue light through the eyes.
Finding it in our skin sent shockwaves through the community of cellular clock researchers. (Yes, there is such a group.)
It means skin can ‘see’ the same light eyes can see. It also means skin clocks respond similarly to eye-to-brain molecular clock signal.
Your skin is, therefore, able to ‘see’ light.
On hindsight, this should be no surprise. Way back in the 1970s scientists discovered that full-spectrum light on the skin could reverse what was then known as cabin fever.
Nowadays it’s called Seasonal Affected Disorder (SAD). It’s characterized by the onset of depression in fall and winter due to lack of sunlight. It’s become so significant that it has its own entry in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Illness (the key manual for all psychiatric disorders).
The successful use of full-spectrum lighting against SAD highlights the importance of two different colors of the solar spectrum – blue and infrared.
Now we know the benefits of melanopsin’s absorption of blue light only accrue when it’s combined with infrared light. In other words, the complete solar spectrum you get first thing after sunrise and all throughout the rest of the day.
And, in case that’s not possible for you in mid-winter where you live, you can find a number of full-spectrum lamps and light bulbs on Amazon to help you set your skin clocks in the absence of sunshine. (Actually, I prefer a reptile lamp, which also emits beneficial UVA light. I don’t use it often, since we get plenty of winter sunshine here in central Arizona.)
The bottom line is this: setting your body clocks means getting the right light in your eyes and on your skin.
The more skin you can expose to the sunrise, the better.
Infrared Light Structures Your Cellular Water
You probably think of water as plain ol’ H2O.
Most people do.
Yet nothing could be further from the truth.
Water exists in multiple forms, depending on how its molecules split apart or stick together. In other words, water has structure!
One particular type of water structure can only occur with an energy input from the infrared (IR) portion of the solar spectrum.
This is a newly discovered role for IR light for cellular energy.
This role is outlined in a relatively recently published book by Dr. Gerald Pollack (University of Washington), The Fourth Phase of Water: Beyond Solid, Liquid, and Vapor (2013). (See Amazon and online booksellers – used paperback copies are pretty inexpensive.)
IR, which is part of full-spectrum sunlight all day long, is THE energy source we need for generating and maintaining the structure of water in cells. Properly structured cellular water is the bedrock of our bioelectrical systems.
Without infrared light, a healthy life is simply not possible.
Dr. Pollack’s discovery is worthy of a Nobel Prize, in my opinion.
Aside from that, a good question is, what can you do about Dr. Pollack’s discovery?
The good news is, IR light from sunshine makes up about 42% of the solar spectrum all day long, throughout all seasons.
So the obvious answer, again, is to get out in the sun more often.
What About the Rest of the Day?
Although I’ve focused on the importance of combining blue with IR to start the day, sunshine offers health benefits all day long.
What I do to capitalize on them is pretty easy.
The simplest things I do regularly include:
- Facing the morning sun as early as I can for at least a couple of minutes (in shorts, no shirt, no shoes, bare feet on bare ground).
- Reading the morning paper outdoors, first thing in the morning.
- Never wearing sunglasses outdoors (they filter out much needed UV light).
- Either not wearing my prescription glasses outdoors or at least making sure they’re low enough on my nose so sunlight can get into my eyes (most glasses filter out UV light).
- Playing and working outside during the day as much as possible (e.g., golf, yardwork, long walks).
- When in my office, turning on my high-intensity ‘reptile’ lamp (lots of UV and IR) that faces me as I sit at my desk (not exactly ‘sunlight’ but better than nothing when indoors).
In other words, I spend time in the sunlight every chance I get – morning, midday, late afternoon. The blue/IR combo is just part of tehe spectrum.
Other parts, especially in the UV region, are valuable in other ways. I’ll talk about them later.
Together, the entire solar spectrum reaching the Earth’s surface is my best medicine.
Comments or Questions?
I’d love to hear from you. This and every other post here provides a comment section at the end of the post, exactly for that purpose.
So, by all means, leave me your thoughts.
I would be especially grateful if you point out any flaws in my logic, factual errors, or ordinary typos. (I’ll give you a little ‘huzzah’ in my heart.)
Then I’ll respond as soon as I can.
All the best in natural health,
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