How sunlight boosts your immune system
February may not be prime time for getting out under the sun in most parts of the country... even if it's something we do all year long here in Southern California.
But when the weather allows it, make it a point to soak up some rays for a few minutes each day.
It doesn't just FEEL good.
It IS good -- and the latest research shows how simple sun exposure can give your immune system a powerful boost.
I'm sure you already know how sunlight stimulates the body into producing vitamin D, which itself plays an essential role in fighting off everything from infections to chronic disease.
But the new study shows another way sunlight can turbocharge your immune system -- and this one may be even more powerful!
The moment sunlight hits your skin, something incredible happens deep inside your body.
Your T-cells wake up.
Those are some of the most important cells in your immune system.
They're your body's first line of defense, rushing to the scene of a potential infection, where they attempt to overwhelm and kill viral and bacterial invaders.
When your T-cells are charged up and ready to go, you can get exposed to nasty germs like the ones behind the flu and never get sick.
But when they're slow and sluggish, you could pay the price.
The new study finds the low levels of blue light emitted by the sun can penetrate the skin down to its second layer, the dermis, where it causes T-cells to pump out hydrogen peroxide.
That's essentially a call to arms from your T-cells. It gets them moving, and helps them rally more cells to the scene of a possible infection.
And while these T-cells are based in the dermis, they don't have to stay there.
Once activated, they can move just about anywhere they're needed in the body -- and the blue wavelengths in sunlight give them the power to reach infections faster so you stay healthier longer.
Of course, there's an obvious downside to sun exposure.
Too much of it can cause sunburn and the damage that can lead to skin cancer.
But as I shared with you last year in Health Revelations, there's a way to safely get the sun you need without the risks, and that's to go outside for brief periods.
Somewhere between five and 20 minutes is enough to stimulate your body and, in most cases, won't turn you into a crisp. (Of course, adjust the time accordingly if you have fair skin or burn easily).
If you want to stay out longer, either cover up with clothing and a hat or choose sunscreen that contains titanium or zinc oxide that's free of parabens and other harmful chemicals.