There is a supernutrient that everyone has access to every single day, but most people take it completely for granted. At certain times of the year you may get enough of it, but during other periods you get hardly any. We also tend to get too much of the wrong kind and not enough of the “right” kind…
So, what is this supernutrient? It is sunlight, and in today’s episode, I dive deep into the science behind why it’s so important. The impact sunlight has on both your psychology and physiology is huge. Making steps in the right direction couldn’t be easier, and doesn’t have to cost you much time or money.
I’ve written an article that accompanies this episode, so whether you read or listen (or both), be sure to take a step back and think about how much of the “right” light you’re getting.
IN TODAY’S SHOW YOU WILL LEARN:
- The impact sunlight has on your mind and body that so few people are aware of.
- The science behind these positive impacts, and how you can use this to bio-hack your own body.
- The story behind how I first got into Light Therapy (and why it was so important that I did it when I did)
- How sunlight is not only linked to your skin but every single part of your body.
- The different types of light, and the effect each one has on you.
- The different forms of light therapy, and what each one involves.
- The personal products I use to ensure I get enough of this supernutrient into my body each and every day.
- How to get involved in the next round of the 12 Weeks to Transformation
I spoke to a friend recently who has a problem that many people face during this time of year!
He’s a Radiologist. That means he works in a room with no windows. At the moment, he leaves the house in the morning before it gets light and doesn’t return home until after dark.
Each day, he’s getting very little sunlight.
He’s heard me talk about this before, so he asked me for some advice.
He also knew that I used to do light therapy, so asked if I still did it. I do. Not only that, I’m a huge advocate of light therapy and have researched the impact of sunlight A LOT recently.
Because as you know, I’ll soon be a mother to a daughter born in the winter. I know how important light is to an infant, so I want to make sure she gets enough of it at a time when we don’t see it often.
And as I spoke to my friend and thought about this…
I realized just how many people this affects these days.
- The people who work in offices, in front of a bright computer screen each day…
- The people who work in public buildings lit with fluorescent lighting…
- The people who work long hours like my friend, leaving and returning home in darkness…
Even those of us who work from home or run a business get so caught up in our work that we forget to step outside and look upward. By not doing so, you are having a HUGE impact on your mind and body.
Not the good kind of impact, either. The bad kind. So I decided to record an episode that dives deep into the science behind light, and look at the supernutrient we all get access to each day but so often neglect… SUNLIGHT!
(if you want to dive deep into the science behind all this, I encourage you to listen to this episode in full. In this article, I’ll touch upon some of the science. But I go much deeper in the podcast episode.)
What’s Light Got To Do With It?
A lack of the “right” light has negative impacts on your health and mindset. We’ll talk more about the different types of light next because getting too much of the wrong kind is just as bad.
First, I want to make sure you know how super the supernutrient of sunlight actually is!
There’s a lot to discuss, which I do in the podcast episode that accompanies this article. Listen to it in full to get the complete insight behind the science.
This begins by thinking about the impact light has on plants.
Without enough of the right light, a plant will die. The reason is that light controls cellular activity.
A lack of light severely impacts this, and in time the plant begins to wilt and die.
Well, the same is true in animals. It controls our cellular activity too and is just as essential to our health, growth and wellbeing as water, food and sleep are. It influences and impacts what our cells do, how much energy we have and even our hormones.
Many people also take vitamins and minerals in a bid to live a healthier life, but it’s light that activates these vitamins and minerals. So even if you take them, they won’t be as effective unless you get enough of the right kind of light.
All of this comes together to affect how we live:
- It impacts sleep, as light controls your Circadian Rhythm (and sleep-wake cycles)
- It modulates your hormones and therefore impacts your mood and mental state.
- It massively influences your skin health, but also many aspects that go on beneath it.
But the reality is most people know this. You know you need sunlight and you know it has an impact on your health and mental wellbeing. But I see so many people do nothing about it, and I think it’s because it isn’t portrayed in the same “light” as water, sleep and food is.
There’s also a lack of understanding of the different types of light.
Which is important, because each type of light impacts you in different ways.
You need to avoid some, but you also need a lot more of others…
The Different Types of Light
The best form of light is sunlight, as it produces Full Spectrum Light. It gives you everything you need, and in an ideal world, we would all get a lot of sunlight each day.
At certain times of the year, this is no problem.
But in winter, for many of us… well, it’s an issue.
Now sure, too much sunlight is bad for you. We all know how damaging and painful sunburn can be. But the same applies to food, water and sleep… as too much of these are also harmful to you.
The reality is you need sunlight year-round, so if you don’t get this from nature you may need to implement some form of light therapy. We’ll get to this next, but first, let’s overview the main types of light:
This is the type of light most people know about. Too much of it’s harmful and can burn your skin. But it’s UVA that also produces Vitamin D, which has a big impact on your mood.
So although you need to limit your exposure to UVA, blocking it completely is not the answer.
This type of light causes less tissue damage than UVA and has more biological benefits. For starters, it’s UVB that activates the Vitamin D that UVA creates, and turns it into Vitamin D Sulfate. This produces some major health benefits, which I discuss in the podcast episode (listen to it in full here).
What’s important to note here is that a lot of people take Vitamin D supplements each day (especially in the winter months). But unless you get exposure to UVB, it isn’t activated and therefore less effective.
Blue light has come into prominence in recent years, as most of us spend a lot of time looking at a screen (laptop and/or phone). Blue light is very taxing on your eyes, but it also suppresses melatonin production.
This is what leads to that wired but tired feeling at night, where you feel exhausted but unable to switch off.`
This is what excites me the most, and is the reason I started light therapy in the first place. I share that story in the episode, so be sure to listen to it in full.
Red light is like a supernutrient in its own right:
- It’s great for any skin issue that needs more blood flow
- It’s powerful for detoxing (removing waste from your body)
- It repairs damaged tissue
- It decreases inflammation and swelling
- It’s great for energy and your metabolism.
- It triggers collagen synthesis (great for joints and younger-looking skin)
There’s a reason more and more athletes use Red Light Therapy as part of their training.
It has huge health benefits, yet is hardly spoken about in the media.
How I Use Light Therapy Each Day
Again, I discuss this in greater detail in the episode, so please listen to it in full for further context.
For starters, I ALWAYS expose at least my hands and face to 3-5 minutes of natural sunlight each day. No matter how cold it is, I’ll stand by the car for a few minutes and soak it in.
The impact of just a few minutes of sunlight each day can be significant.
Beyond this, there are a few things I use as part of my light therapy.
This free app is great if you work on a computer for long periods of time. It adapts your computer’s display to the time of day, giving your eyes what it needs when it needs it.
2: Klassy Blue Light Glasses
These are the glasses I use to block blue light. Again, if you spend time on a computer or a phone, these glasses have a big impact. They reduce eye fatigue and allow you to sleep better.
You can learn more about Klassy’s Blue Blocker Glasses Here (use code: primal if you decide to buy).
3: The Joovv Red Light
I love my Joovv Light. It’s an easy way to get some essential red light each day and is small enough to go where you do. I encourage you to learn more about the different lights Joovv produce here (and if you choose to buy one, use the code: PRIMAL).
4: Salt Lamps and Full-Spectrum Light Bulbs
This is something I’m just beginning to use… Salt lamps are a great alternative to a red light, and although you won’t want your house exclusively covered in full-spectrum bulbs, having a few is a great way to get some of that supernutrient into your system.
I talk about all this and more in the episode that accompanies this article. Listen to it in full for further context, and be sure to leave a comment below if you have any questions about the effect of light therapy.
Thanks for reading today. Please listen to the podcast that accompanies this article in full for a complete insight into the science behind this amazing supernutrient, sunlight.
I love recording science-based episodes like this one.
I hope you’ve enjoyed it too, and that you leave inspired.
If you have and would like to explore this further, join the 12 Weeks to Transformation Wait List. It is now open, and those on the Wait List get all the information about 2020’s first edition of the 12 Weeks to Transformation before everyone else.
Join the Wait List Here ⇒
Thanks again for listening and reading. If you have any questions please add them in the comments below. And to subscribe to the podcast and connect with me on social media, follow the links below.
One of the top 10 questions I get is, “Elizabeth, what supplements do you take?”
I’m always hesitant to answer because we all have unique needs and therefore should have unique supplement regimens. With that caveat, that what works for me won’t be what works for you, today I’m happy to share what I take and when.
Many of you know that for a long time, I didn’t take any supplements at all and I’ll tell you why:
- It wasn’t a priority for me early in my journey. I was hyperfocused on eating well and building consistency around food.
- I was jaded and cynical. After working in the supplement industry and seeing so many cut-corners, I was skeptical of the industry as a whole. I hadn’t found brands I really, really trusted.
- I didn’t understand the impact that optimizing my microbiome would have on my overall efforts, my health and my life.
What I know now that I didn’t know then…
I didn’t realize what a huge role the microbiome plays in things like drive and motivation. At the time, it made a lot of sense to me to focus on eating well and getting consistent with my choices. However, I had no idea just how major the impact of a rich, diverse microbiome on the neurotransmitters responsible for making us feel motivated and driven! I probably could have made things a lot easier for myself if I made my microbiome a priority then.
I have to clarify though…too many people are thinking about the microbiome only in terms of gut health and digestion. Taking a probiotic product that targets bloating and digestive efficiency is not going to make you feel more motivated. I talk about that in more detail in episode 630 of the Primal Potential podcast. You can listen here or click play below.
“EB, what supplements do you take?”
Let’s remember that I’m pregnant. The list of what I take will certainly change post-partum.
I start each morning with a powdered probiotic & an energy blend mixed into water. This particular probiotic blend targets brain health, stress resilience, focus, mood, vigor, anxiety and depression.
With every single meal I take digestive enzymes. It doesn’t matter where I am or what I’m eating, I take these daily.
Each evening, I take a multivitamin, omega, probiotic and natural sleep aid. This particular probiotic is in capsule form and targets digestion and immunity.
As needed (once a week or so), I take a natural mood support product.
EB, why no links in this post?
Being a business owner and sharing your life with the public requires a lot of judgement calls. When I’m uncertain, I air on the side of caution and responsibility. I don’t know what your health, dietary or supplement needs are as I write this post. Recommendations for you require information about you. I would be happy to have those conversations with anyone who comments on this post or emails me directly. That’s the judgement call I’m making for today.
We are officially past the halfway point of this pregnancy! Woohoo! So much has happened in the last few weeks and I’m excited to give you an update!
About a month ago, I started feeling subtle baby movements – tiny little flutters that I could almost mistake as gas or muscle twitches. I had been so excited to feel movement and remember thinking, “I’ll worry so much less when I start to feel her move.”
Those future markers are never what I think they will be! Feeling her move came with heightened nervousness when I didn’t feel her move!
A couple weeks ago, a few days went by without feeling any movement from baby girl. Though movement had been daily, I reminded myself not to worry because it was still early for movement and far too early for things like kick counts.
Then, I started cramping. For several hours, I had intense cramps – they weren’t so bad that I had to stop working or lay down, but they were alarmingand I decided to call the doctor. They decided to have me come in for a urine sample and a fetal heart check. Sometimes cramping can come from a urinary tract infection (UTI) so they wanted to rule that out.
Fetal heart check was fine. Baby’s heartbeat was healthy & strong. I felt so relieved.
Because of the cramping, they decided to do a manual cervical check…holy moly was that more uncomfortable than I thought it would be! Pap smears don’t really bother me but this was something way more intense! My doctor explained that the cervix is significantly more sensitive during pregnancy. Everything seemed normal (except my pain tolerance!)
To air on the side of caution, they wanted to look at just one more thing – the length of my cervix – to make sure it wasn’t prematurely shortening. Basically, if you think of your uterus like an empty balloon…the balloon has a long neck when it’s empty and as it gets more full, the neck shortens. You know how it’s hard to tie it off if you inflate it too much? Same concept. It’s too early in the pregnancy for the cervix to be shortening.
The ultrasound seemed normal in that regard but they were a little concerned about the placement of my placenta. They said it was closer to my cervix than they wanted it to be. Later in pregnancy, that could post a risk of bleeding for me and baby so we agreed to keep an eye on it and they suggested “cervical rest”. I’m still unclear on what that means beyond “no sex”.
While checking on the length of my cervix, they also checked on baby. She looked healthy and strong! However, she looking like she was doing an Irish jig right on top of my cervix! She kept crossing, uncrossing and recrossing her tiny little ankles right above my cervix. As she did, you could see my cervix contracting, which was likely the cause of my cramping.
Ultimately, they sent me home and said we’d take another look the following week at my scheduled ultrasound.
Meanwhile, I’ve noticed some pregnancy related changes!
- Weight gain – everywhere!
- Increased hunger. I’m basically down for 2 breakfasts, 2 lunches and a big dinner. Ha! True story!
- Round ligament pain, especially at night.
- The return of nausea. Yeah, it’s back. If I start to get hungry, I feel sick. Most times, I also feel sick after I eat.
- Less sleep. I hadn’t been sleeping well in general but it’s definitely worse now.
- Movement! The movement returned and is more consistent and pronounced, especially after I eat and when I lay down at night.
Let’s talk frankly about the weight gain, shall we?
Prior to getting pregnant, I thought I’d be this clean-eating, CrossFitting pregnant woman, much like my non-pregnant self. I envisioned changes in my body but I didn’t envision major changes in my lifestyle.
Hahahahahahaha. We plan, God laughs.
In fairness, I’m not eating terribly, but I’m definitely not living up to my previous definition of clean eating. Veggies are basically intolerable. Chicken is the only protein I can stomach and it can’t be plain. Chicken tenders are my form of choice. Does that even count? I’m saying, “yes!”
Carbs settle my stomach. Pasta. Crackers. Bread. I had some graham crackers today and they were simply PERFECT.
Some “healthier” items are still in play. I love apples and crave them constantly, but, they give me diarrhea. 🤷🏻♀️I had a bunch of carrots last night and…you guessed it. Diarrhea.
So, what do you get when you combine eating more (I’m always hungry now), eating less clean, exercising less and growing a human under very stressful conditions?
Weight gain! Everywhere!
Watching this slow weight creep, I’ve had many moments of feeling disappointed in myself and almost as many moments of simply not giving a shit.
After bouncing back and forth with my thoughts and feelings about it, I decided to sit down and really get into my heart and my best self about it. Instead of just riding the roller coaster of emotions and letting it control my mood, I decided to take control back.
As I usually do, I began with questions:
What is the thing that bothers me most about the weight gain? What is it that makes me most uncomfortable or anxious about getting bigger?
Fear of judgement from others.
That’s the God’s honest truth. If no one else existed, I’d be fine with it. I’d have total peace with eating what feels good and avoiding what doesn’t feel good. I’d be way more comfortable with a larger, sturdier season.
It’s less about me. My discomfort comes from how I’m thinking about other people’s opinions.
Boom. Instant clarity.
That is NOT who I choose to be.
And seriously, who are these people in my life that I think would judge me for gaining weight?
Certainly not my daughter’s father. He thinks I’m beautiful and is concerned only with me and baby being healthy. Certainly not my family. Certainly not my closest friends. Certainly not colleagues who support me no matter what.
I dug a little deeper. Who? Who am I worried about? Who am I thinking might judge or criticize me?
The fear is about strangers, colleagues or clients who don’t really know me.
This realization was so enlightening. Even writing about this, I have tears in my eyes at what an awakening this was.
First, I don’t know that they are judging or would judge. That’s an assumption. I don’t want to be a person who makes assumptions. I practice not making assumptions and certainly not assuming the worst about people as a result of my own insecurity!
Second, if they do judge me, they aren’t people I want in my life. That makes this season a beautiful opportunity to enrich my relationships and enrich the group of people with whom I work.
This is happening for me, not to me.
Beyond that…I explored the question, “What is wrong with gaining weight?”
Am I healthy? Yes.
Is baby healthy? Yes.
Am Iistening to my body? Yes.
Am I eating when I’m hungry and choosing what feels right in the moment? Yes.
Am I being irresponsible? No.
Am I disrespecting my body? No.
So then, what is wrong with weight gain?
This is a season. It’s a miraculous season.
My past periods of weight gain have been steeped in shame, self-loating and hiding.
What a beautiful opportunity for me to navigate this differently…
What a beautiful opportunity for me to choose to love this. To choose confidence. To choose a complete embrace of my body and the fact that it’s needs and wants are very different right now.
I feel such peace and possibility when typing this out.
That doesn’t mean it’s easy. That doesn’t mean I am free from frustration or fear of judgement. I certainly have moments of emotion, of sadness, of fear and insecurity.
But this new perspective is a choice I make a hundred times a day and it’s a choice I’m excited about.
I’m sure I’ll have more to say about this as I continue to grow. 🙂
Back to baby stuff….
Just yesterday I went in for my final (we think) ultrasound of the pregnancy. It was a long one – about an hour – and everything looked great! My placenta even moved! It was no longer “too close” to my cervix!
It was pretty miraculous to see all her fingers and toes, the four chambers of her heart and all her little ribs. The ultrasound tech was super chatty
I am admittedly biased, but I think she’s pretty cute already!
After the appointment, I got a phone call. This is where things get interesting and a little challenging.
The doctor was calling about the urine sample I left last week. The intial dipstick screening was negative for a UTI but they sent it out to see what bacteria “grows out” over time. Essentially, she was calling to let me know I have a “severe” UTI and that she was calling in antibiotics for me.
I was surprised because I don’t feel like I have a UTI. I’ve had them before and you certainly know when you do! While yes, I’ve been urinating much more frequently, that’s super common in pregnancy. I haven’t had, however, any burning, pain or discomfort.
She went on to explain that I had over 100,000 active cultures in my sample but that they didn’t test out for a specific strain. She said that it could be a contaminated sample but since UTIs can lead to infection or pre-term labor, they wanted to air on the side of caution and treat it.
I thought it was super weird that she couldn’t name a specific bacterium that was problematic so I asked,
How do you know it’s pathogenic bacterial overgrowth? Could it be that I just have a healthy, robust microbiome?
She said they didn’t know that it was pathogenic and that it could be representative of a rich microbiome and the fact that I supplement with multiple probiotics. Or, she reiterated, it could be contamination.
Here’s what’s so fascinating to keep in mind about most medical tests: their ranges for “normal” are based on populations, not based on optimal states of health. Here’s what I mean: they determine “normal” levels of bacteria in the urine based on what most people have, not on what is optimal. With this in mind, having a high amount of bacteria in the urine could very well reflect that I have a richer microbiome than most. Yes, it could also indicate an infection, but as they were unable to verify problem strains and I’m not having typical symptoms, I don’t feel comfortable jumping right to antibiotic treatment.
Heck, I’ve worked my butt off to improve my microbiome for my health and the health of my baby so I’m not eager to jump on antibiotics as a precaution.
So, here’s my plan. I have another appointment in just 4 days. Between now and then, I’ll increase my probiotic consumption and supplement with cranberry capsules and vitamin C. If there is an infection, that should help knock it out without antiobitics. My good friend Dr. Beth Westie also told me to drink lots of water, change my underwear 2-3x/day and watch for any symptoms like pain, burning, discharge or fever.
Then, we’ll retest in a few days.
In other baby news…
We painted the nursery yesterday and my mom & her husband are coming down this weekend to help us lay down wood flooring in there. I’ll show pictures on Instagram (in my stories) as we go. While the house is still in total shambles, there are two very small rooms upstairs that aren’t being renovated by the crew. One of those will be the baby nursery so we can get that situated even while we live in chaos.
Speaking of the renovation chaos – this week has been tough. Because of a big 5-day storm cycle, the crew hasn’t been here all week.
I had my first moment of real frustration with our living conditions (not to be confused with a lot of frustration I’ve had about the previous contractor). One particularly restless night, I just wanted the be able to go lay on the couch to watch TV and try to get comfortable. But, we have no couch and we have no TV. I wanted to be able to walk to the fridge and get a cold drink, alas, no fridge in the house.
I’m sure there will be many more moments of frustration as the pregnancy continues, but I’m determined to remain grateful for my home, grateful for my health, grateful for my baby and grateful for my family.
Until next time…I’m off to get some cranberry capsules and vitamin C!