Light shapes life - how is it shaping yours?
A few years ago, I started to read about the powerful effects of light on life. Everyone today is worried about fake food. If e = mc^2, then light = food. If fake food is a problem, then so is fake light.
I created this challenge to show people how powerfully light shapes life, and how bad fake light is for life. This blog post is just the first few pages of a much larger ebook, which you can download here.
What is real light? We are optimized for sunlight, which contains 42% infrared and a large proportion of red light. Modern LED and fluorescent lights are deficient in these wavelengths. And these wavelengths are critical for life.
Red and infrared light improve energy generation in our mitochondria, assisting in wound healing and resistance to disease. Thus, red and infrared lights are being used in everything from sports medicine to traumatic brain injury to stroke.
Modern lighting has eliminated red and infrared light to save money and provide a more "balanced" or "white" appearance to our lights. This has come at a great cost to us biologically.
Consider the following:
1. Spending most of your time indoors is as bad for you as smoking.
2. The sun helps fight off diabetes and obesity.
3. The sun reduces our risk of autoimmune disease.
4. The sun reduces our risk of allergic disease.
5. The sun reduces our risk of cancer.
6. As we have moved indoors, melanoma rates have risen.
7. Outdoor workers have a lower or unchanged risk of melanoma, despite receiving abundant sunshine.
If you don't believe me, then just look at the citations in my blog posts (they're included as links, not compiled at the end), or download the ebook and look at the citations at the end. These statements are well supported in the literature.
We are optimized for sunlight, and 42-50% of sunlight is infrared light. A substantial proportion of the visible portion of sunlight is red. Are rising rates of these diseases due to a deficiency of these spectra of light?
Most people think that the word,"diet," refers to what you eat. Diet refers not only to what you eat, but to how you live. If e = mc^2, then light = food.
Fix the light you're living under and watch what happens. Don't change what you eat, how much you lift, where you shop, what you wear, or what you do for fun. Just change the light you're living under and see for yourself how powerfully light shapes life.
This is the Real Light Challenge.
Animals adapt to what Darwin called, "the conditions of existence," one of which is light. We have a "diurnal" circadian rhythm, which means that we are naturally awake during the day and asleep at night.
While modern-day dermatologists claim the sun causes skin cancer, the truth is that the sun reduces your risk of death, as I cover in many of my blog posts on the health benefits of sunlight. I dispel the many myths and legends told about sunlight by modern doctors in these posts.
Sunlight Cures, Fake Light Kills
The Sun Does Not Cause Melanoma
Sun Avoidance Is Bad Medicine
Sunscreen and Sunglasses Are Snake Oil
Forty to fifty percent of sunlight (depending on location and season) is infrared light. If you have ever admired the redness of a sunset or a sunrise, then you have seen just how much of sunlight is red light as well. Our bodies rely upon red and infrared light for healing and regeneration during the day. These wavelengths have been extensively studied for their benefits, in what we call, "photobiomodulation," or "low level light therapy." Whatever you call it, the original light therapy was heliotherapy (that is just a fancy word for sunlight-therapy), and it is still the best light for you. Sunlight also determines the temperature on planet earth. We now know that cold is an important stressor for life, and that cold exposure has amazing health benefits. People today have never been more insulated from the cold, while also running from the heat of the sun. I created my online course, Polar Bear Fitness (polarbear.fitness), to teach people about the health benefits of cold exposure and of living a seasonal and circadian lifestyle. The Real Light Challenge is the first part of the Polar Bear Fitness protocol.
Since we have moved indoors, rates of cancer, autoimmune diseases, and allergies have exploded. This is largely due to the lack of key frequencies of sunlight. If e = mc^2, then light = food, and sunlight is what we are meant to be exposed to. Avoiding the sun is just as bad as smoking, according to one of the largest studies ever done to examine the effects of sunlight.
The truth is that sunlight is the optimal light for human health and performance. Modern lighting, however, subtracts two of the key healing frequencies of sunlight, with devastating effects.
Modern indoor lighting is designed to be efficient. Cold, harsh fluorescent lights have replaced the incandescent lights that were the only option for most of the 20th century. Consumers are interested in energy efficient bulbs as a means of saving money, but these bulbs should truly come with a Surgeon General's warning: "these bulbs have never been studied for their long-term effects on human health." Data in both ophthalmology and dermatology indicates that red and infrared light protect our skin not only from damage due to ultraviolet light, but due to blue light. Recent studies have shown that blue and green light can induce similar damage as ultraviolet light, and at even deeper depths of penetration. Furthermore, the antidote to that damage is a hormone called melatonin. Melatonin is best known as the hormone of sleep, but it seems that our cells also produce melatonin in response to red and infrared light. There is also data to suggest that fake light, by shutting down melatonin release at night and failing to produce it during the day, is fueling our epidemics of modern diseases like obesity, diabetes, mental illness, and more. Real light and cold exposure protect us from these diseases, as I cover in Polar Bear Fitness.
Is it any coincidence that as we have moved indoors, skin cancer rates have increased? Is it any coincidence that working outside does not increase, and may even decrease, your risk of melanoma? What about diseases of the eye? Rates of near-sightedness have risen to over 90% in some Southeast Asian countries, where just a generation ago rates were a minority of the population.
I wrote about the dangers of indoor lighting to our health in the following blog posts.
Should You Wear Blue Blockers?
Is Fake Light Is Driving You Crazy?
How Fake Light Is Ruining Your Health
Indoor Lighting Causes More (Skin) Cancer than the Sun
Can Blue Blockers Prevent Melanoma?
Indoor lighting is built for efficiency, rather than health. Indoor living has been shown to be just as dangerous as smoking, due to the key differences between indoor lighting and outdoor lighting. This is partly due to climate control in modern buildings. The average person today is rarely cold or hot for long, thanks to heating and air conditioning. This is why sauna and ice bathing has such tremendous health benefits, as I cover in Polar Bear Fitness.
What is the solution? You could sell all your worldly possessions and live outside. Otherwise, you need to bring the red and infrared light of the sun to your indoor environment.
That is what The Real Light Challenge is all about. This challenge consists of the five key steps that I take every day, and that I recommend to all of my friends, family, and patients, to create a healthy light environment.
For 30 days:
1. Get as much sunlight as possible. Work near windows or outside if you can.
2. Minimize blue and green light exposure at night. Turn off the lights you are not using. Replace bright, white lights with low color-temperature (<2200 K) lights, specifically incandescent bulbs.
3. Install blue-light blocking software on your tech devices.
Iris for computers and tablets.
Apps for iPhone and Android.
4. Block blue light after dark and before daylight with blue blockers.
Stylish blue blockers are available from:
Utilitarian blue blockers are available for a lot less from various other sources.
5. Enlighten yourself with red and infrared light.
EMR-Tek lights are what I prefer. They have three models:
Disclosure: I receive affiliate commissions from RaOptics, BluBlox, Iris, and EMR-Tek. By using the links above or my affiliate code, StillmanMD, you get a discount and I get a sales commission.
As in all things, details matter. If all of this is new to you, then you need a crash-course in those details, and that is what the rest of this guide is about. Life pays attention to the smallest scales of energy and matter, and this blog post is just the tip of the iceberg. The rest of the keys to how life shapes life are found in The Real Light Challenge ebook, which you can download here.
Light shapes life. It's time to start acting like it.