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You Are Neglecting An Easy Way to Feel Better

Let’s break up the monotony of the daily grind with a riddle. What is big, hot, on fire, and packed with health benefits? The sun of course!

That one was easy. Here is a tougher one: I exist where there is light, but direct sunlight kills me. What am I? You can find the answer at the end of the first piece, but first–how does sunlight help us optimize health? Let’s dive in.

Rainy Day Blues Are a Real Thing

There is a very real reason why people don’t feel so hot on rainy days. Some people will tell you how much they love the rain, but this one study did find an association between bad weather and poor mood. There was even a study that found an increase in negative posts on Facebook on rainy

Imagine that–just when you thought social media couldn’t get more negative.

Thanks a lot, rain. But it isn’t actually the rain that is to blame (bonus points for making that rhyme). It is more than likely the lack of sunshine that is the real culprit. Now think of all the people that don’t even need a rainy day as an excuse to not get adequate sunlight. So many Americans wake up, get in their car, and spend the majority of the day indoors at work under crummy fluorescent lights, regardless of the weather. No bueno. Let’s not even go into how little time Americans are spending outside in nature, which has its own slew of health benefits. According to this survey, over half of American adults report spending fewer than five hours a week outside in nature. I would assume their screen time on their phones is probably higher than five hours. Not an ideal balance. So why is the sun so important for our mood and health? It all starts when sunlight reaches our eyes, and photoreceptors tell our brains to conserve the hormone serotonin. This causes serotonin levels to rise, which can help regulate the body’s circadian rhythm.

This is essential to regulate healthy sleep and hunger queues, and can also improve cell health, hormone balance, and other functions. The conservation of serotonin can also lead to more energy and alertness, better memory and focus, and can aid in overall well- being. When sunlight hits our skin, nitric oxide widens blood vessels to lower blood pressure and heart rate, helping us feel more relaxed.

All this can help our mood drastically improve, all while helping to regulate a multitude of essential bodily functions. The solution? Prioritize spending time outside in the sun every single day. This doesn’t mean full-body sunbathing for hours, but a few minutes in the sun each day, ideally first thing in the morning to appropriately stimulate your hormones to start the day, can make a huge difference. Even on cloudy or rainy days, the amount of sunlight you can get outside is beneficial. It doesn’t have to be a gorgeous day for you to get those mood boosting benefits, and these days, who couldn’t use a little mood boosting, ammaright?

Oh, and the answer to the riddle: a shadow.

Pass The Steak, Please

So I am going to go out on a limb here and make an assumption. I assume most of our Daily Tonic readership isn’t made up of vegans convinced that red meat is the main culprit for chronic disease. If my assumption is correct, sharing this next study may just be me preaching to the choir, but let’s share it anyway. According to this recent study, researchers have been unable to find convincing scientific evidence for previous assertions made about the harmful health effects of unprocessed red meat. That’s right. All those mainstream claims of red meat being bad for your health simply do not hold water once you start peeling back the layers of healthy user bias and poorly constructed studies. Unprocessed red meat may not be bad for you after all. Would you look at that…

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