Restore hormonal balance, sounds good right? What about sleeping soundly and waking feeling restful and fully restored and  not to mention feeling like a super hero who is totally stress resilient, even in the most difficult situations. This article aims explore these 3 major wellbeing issues that should be promoted, protected and continuously improved. Sunlight, Sleep and the importance of hormonal balance can help you to kick ass this summer. Let’s explore in more detail, ways to take advantage and utilise the summer month to turbo charge your self care wellbeing (selfing for short) strategy.

Medical disclaimer.  This article is for information and entertainment purposes only and does not in any way constitute medical advice. If you suffer from any medical conditions such as insomnia, depression, osteoporosis or other conditions discussed in this article, then you should consult a qualified medical practitioner.

Prepare yourself for the perfect kick ass selfing strategy to cheaply and effectively improve your overall wellbeing.

Part 1

When we are dreaming of Italy, at Frederick & Fischer, we are thinking of homemade Spaghetti Aglio olio, or delicious sea bream baked in a salt crust served with a dash of olive oil and lemon and crushed peppercorn. Both of these are exceptionally simple dishes but impressive on taste. When I first set foot on Italian soil, I fell in love first with the simplicity of the food and then came the breathtaking landscape. This stunning European country is rich in history and is surrounded by stunning coastline on the Adriatic Sea, Ionian Sea, Tyrrhenian Sea, Ligurian Sea, Sea of Sardinia and Strait of Sicily. That’s rather impressive don’t you think? So many beaches and coastline!

Let us take just one Regional Mediterranean landscape, the Amalfi coast which is both a sensual blend of natural and cultural wonders. I was simple amazed at the scattered terraced vineyards, orchards and villages which were often perched high above sea level with enchanting views of vibrant waters below.
The beautiful coast has a rich history that dates back to ancient times, when it was home to the Greek city of Poseidonia and the powerful maritime republic of Amalfi. The coast is dotted with ancient cathedrals, gardens, and Roman villas that testify to its glorious past.

The Amalfi Coast is a place where beauty and glamour meet in perfect harmony It is also famous for its picturesque villages that cling to the cliffs, such as Positano, Praiano, Furore, and Conca dei Marini and is a place where you can enjoy the sun-kissed Mediterranean climate, which features warm summers and mild winters and is a World Heritage Site that deserves to be explored and admired. 

Looking out of a window at the Amalfi coast. Research by the Osteoporosis foundation found that the population of Italy had very low levels of vitamin D

Italy at the Amalfi coast looking through a window from a house pertched on the cliff and looking down towards the sea

 

Further south located is Greece, another beautiful country in Southeast Europe that has a rich history and culture and it is claimed where domocracy was born. It is situated on the crossroads of Europe, Asia as well as Africa and wide coastlines with many islands in the Aegean, Ionian and Mediterraen Seas. 

With 170 inhabited islands surrounded by gorgeous turquoise waters of the Mediteranea seas, Greece is another beautiful country.  

The people of Greece also enjoy a Mediterranean climate with hot summers and mild winters. They are known for their hospitality, their cuisine, and their love of music and dance. Mamma Mia, a jukebox musical romantic comedy film featuring songs from ABBA was set in one of the beautiful islands with traditional white houses with lovely blue roofs. Such houses feature in the film but the rest, I am guessing, is probably just a fairytale accompanied by the best pop music the world has ever heard. 

At a beach in Greece. A study by the Osteoporosis foundation found the people living in Greece have very low levels of Vitamin D

A beach in Greece

You are probably wondering what on earth have these countries to do with this selfing article. These two countries with amazing summer months have a population that have very low levels of Vitamin D, according to the Osteoporosis foundation. (1. D.A. Wahl et al 2012). Things are not looking good for the populations of these two countries in Europe together with Germany, Poland, Estonia, Finland and Ireland having low levels of vitamin D amongst its population. Austria has an even worse rating with England, France, Spain, Netherland and Belgium having only adequate levels. Only people in Sweden have levels that are considered optimal from this study. 

North Americans do not fare much better with approximately 35% of adults in the United States have vitamin D deficiency. Yeah, you read that right, a whopping 41.6 percent of adult Americans are deficient in Vitamin D (2. Vitamin D status in the United States, 2011-2014. Herrick KA, Storandt RJ, Afful J, Pfeiffer CM, Schleicher RL, Gahche JJ, Potischman N).

Even more worryingly, new research according to findings in the Archives of Internal Medicine found that 75 percent of all teens are deficient in Vitamin D and in particular, POC, African Americans have much more prevalence of lack of Vitamin D. Why? Simple, dark skinned people have more melanin in their skins, which actually affects the body´s ability to synthesie vitamin D. ScientificAmerican.com reported the study which was published in 2009 that the slide was particularly striking among African Americans: just 3 percent of 3,149 blacks sampled in 2004 were found to have the recommended levels compared with 12 percent of 5,362 sampled two decades earlier. If you have dark-colored skin it is harder to make vitamin D from sunlight than light-colored skin, so people with darker skin are at a higher risk for vitamin D deficiency. (3. Demographic differences and trends. Adit A. Ginde, MD, MPH; Mark C. Liu, MD; Carlos A. Camargo Jr, MD, DrPH 2009).

So its important as a self care strategy to take advantage of summer and raise your game to improve your wellbeing with some simple self-care wellbeing (selfing) ideas around Vitamin D. 

Now that we know that there are real problems with vitamin D deficiency in both North American and in many European countries, what potential improvements could we experience when we work on raising our levels. First though, how do we identify whether there is potentially a problem with us individually? Ask your medical practitioner for a test to check your levels.

Testing for vitamin D deficiency, the doctor uses a scale which ranges from low vitamin D that is, anything below 30 nmol/L, adequate is 50 nmol/L and high is 125 nmol/L. In fact, many scientists working in the field of vitamin D are raising concerns that the lower acceptable range is in fact, way too low. Do you know where you are at on this scale? Having experience in this I spoke to my doctor who has stated that although 60 nmol/L is quite high, he told me that I can and should increase my levels up to 90 nmol/L. I have been testing things here and found that using supplement can take a while to increase the levels in the body. Naturally, supplementation plays a part but is not the whole story. Doctors are at pains to point out that the supplements need to be ‘activated’ by the sunrays, therefore, the summer months are perfect to right this tragic wrong. 

But hold up it is worth emphasising, it is always best to approach your doctor, arrange for a vitamin D test once a year, so you may find out your current status before you start to glug down tablets or drops in large quantities. 

As days are getting longer and barmier, you probably know what that means right? It’s is definitely time to spend more time outdoors, so why not reach for the sunglasses, give them a clean and get ready to look the part! Hold up, before you put on the shades, first hear us out. 

A pair of sunglasses  and how sunglasses can block out the signals we receive from sunrays

Sunglasses

We know what you are thinking, Sunglasses help against crows feet, those little wrinkles that can form around the sides of your eyes because the day is bright, and therefore, spend your time squinting trying to cope with your surroundings. But what if we told you that the single best thing you can do for boasting your wellbeing in the Spring/Summer months is to allow your eyes to interact with the environment. We are a living, breathing organism with emotions and feelings. You may often hear when you meditate with one of our videos that we mention that we are living in a sense-based reality. We love smells, seeing beautiful designs, paintings, touching, hearing and tasting things. That is because we are fully interacting with our surroundings. In meditation, we aim to withdraw from the senses but stay present with our focus on our breathing. The body is interacting with the day’s sunlight. That is why we tend to feel happier in the summer months as compared to a long, cold winter.  Putting shades on stops your eyes from assessing the light factor that is around on any given day and preparing your skin for the sunrays being put out there by the sun. Your eyes signal to the body what sort of day it is and how the body needs to prepare itself. Leave the sunglasses off at the beginning of the day. 

 Why does any of this actually matter? 

Sunlight that reaches your eyes stimulates the hypothalamus in your brain, The gland is connected to the pineal gland and will be responsible for the sleep and wake cycle because it provides a signal to your body to produce the sleepy hormone, melatonin. There is a major problem for many people who are screwing up this process within their bodies and then head for the supplements and worse, sleeping medication.  Get your vitamin D levels right and you may not need sleeping tablets or even over the counter melatonin supplements. 

Your eyes need to be trained, there are many yoga or Qigong methods that give your eyes a workout and making the muscles that control eye movement stronger. The natural contrast of light during the day and night that your body (and eyes) are exposed to helps assure healthy hormonal secretions and healthy sleep. Sunglasses can inhibit this process.  

Your eyes operate like any of the other organs in your body: If you don’t use them, you will lose them. If your eyes are not consistently exposed to the various array of UV light, then your ability to adapt to light will decline as well as your vision. 

Try to spend a little time in the morning in the Sunlight ( No you don’t have to directly look into the Sun and it is not recommended) before wearing your sunglasses and avoid them if you can. Most of us are working indoors in any case, so when out and about, try to leave the glasses off for a while. It is self explanatory of course, if it becomes too bright and your eyes are overstrained, then by all means put them on. If you want to look really cool and show off your designer shades, Ray bans, Cartier or Tom Ford, then by all means, wear them indoors. 

Reference

1 D.A. Wahl et al.D.A. Wahl et al. 2012 on behalf of International Osteoporosis Foundation (IOF) “A global representation of Vitamin D status in healthy populations”.

2. Vitamin D status in the United States, 2011-2014. Herrick KA, Storandt RJ, Afful J, Pfeiffer CM, Schleicher RL, Gahche JJ, Potischman N.

3. Achives internal medicine 2009 Adit A. Ginde, MD, MPH; Mark C. Liu, MD; Carlos A. Camargo Jr, MD, DrPH

Part 2

Sleep tight! Neurotransmitters and Hormones

Hormones play a crucial role in mood, how we deal with stress and inflammation as well as how we sleep at night. Hormones are the biggest factor that we can influence for our overall wellbeing. 

A moon in the night sky to signify music to help you sleep

Cover of our successful sleep music video on Youtube

Research is developing in this area but it is becoming widely acknowledged that vitamin D plays an important role in sleep. Adult with vitamin d deficiently are more likely to have delayed bedtime, less time asleep at night, low quality sleep and nighttime waking. Many of our YouTube subscribers note that they wake through the night and have difficulties falling back to sleep and are in need to listen to one of our beautiful calming music videos. 

Scientists continue to investigate the relationship between vitamin D and sleep and why a deficiency coincides with a risk of developing sleep problems.  

Areas that scientists continue to explore are that vitamin D is a vital part of brain function, hello neurotransmitters! because there are many vitamin D receptors in the parts of the brain that are involved in sleep. 

Secondly, sunlight helps the body to manufacture vitamin D and regulate circadian rhythms, limited exposure to sunlight could have a negative impact on both vitamin D production and a person’s natural sleep wake cycle. Circardian rythums are biological patterns that shift across each 24 hour cycle and can become out of sync which is easy to do in our modern living. One of the most noticeable is our sleep-wake cycle which determines a person`s sleepiness or wakefulness throughout this timeframe. 

As we have mentioned, melatonin hormone is a hormone produced when it begins to get dark and induces the feeling of tiredness. Vitamin D helps the body produce melatonin and it is possible that low levels of vitamin D results in low levels of melatonin. 

A total of 10 132 individuals were included in a survey. The prevalence of sleeping problems was a whopping 56% in the USA, 31% in Western Europe and 23% in Japan ( 1. D Leger et al, 2008). Most individuals with sleeping problems considered these to have an impact on their daily functioning. The results do not necessarily show that sleep problems were due to this out of sync wake and sleep caycle, but imagine for a second that it was down to a deficiency in vitamin D and how easy and cheaply it is to remedy it. 

Sun and Sleep are intrinsically linked and can be partially remedied by increasing the levels of Vitamin D, improving and increasing your quality night sleep. Some of our most successful videos are music videos that help people to fall and stay asleep. 

Summer is the time to spend more time outdoors

A couple enjoying an outdoor picnic during the summer months

Regulating your Vitamin D is the best kick ass tip that I can give you and regulating vitamin D is relatively easy…Spend time ouside in the spring and summer months.

According to eastwesthealing.com The best time to do so would be during UVB rise, and during UVB time during the day. The time and length of UVB will all depend on where you live, and the season. Here is why…

UVB rise (when UVB starts during the morning time) will help build up your solar callus. UVB exposure causes melanin synthesis, which results in delayed tanning. This UVB-induced melanin pigmentation acts as nature’s sunscreen essentially absorbing over 50% of UV light. When you spend a large amount of time avoiding sunlight and spending time inside, fear the sun and wear long sleeves, glasses and so forth, you reduce your capacity to deal with the sun and compromise your protective and repair pathways leaving your more vulnerable to burning.

UVA and UVB causes skin aging, can increase the risk of melanoma skin cancer however, what is important is to be safe in the sun and try to work with the sunrays.,not to completely avoid sunlight altogether, or use so much sunscreens, that you end up not synthesing vitamin d, because that would bring with it a whole host of potential health problems.

Secondly, UVB stimulates all precursors to Vitamin D in your body. The sun’s ultraviolet B (UVB) rays interact with a protein called 7-DHC in the skin, converting it into vitamin D3, the active form of vitamin D.

“During exposure to sunlight, 7-dehydrocholesterol in the skin absorbs UV B radiation and is converted to pre-vitamin D3 which in turn isomerizes into vitamin D3. Previtamin D3 and vitamin D3 also absorb UV B radiation and are converted into a variety of photoproducts some of which have unique biologic properties. Sun-induced vitamin D synthesis is greatly influenced by season, time of day, latitude, altitude, air pollution, skin pigmentation, sunscreen use, passing through glass and plastic, and aging. Vitamin D is metabolized sequentially in the liver and kidneys into 25-hydroxyvitamin D which is a major circulating form and 1,25-dihydroxyvitamin D which is the biologically active form respectively.”

Wacker and Holick 2013.

According to learnskin.com although not foolproof you can use the following method to ensure that you are not in the sun when UVB are at the highest. The shadow rule is a very practical tool you can use on sunny days as a reminder of UVB intensity. The shadow rule is as follows: UVB rays are least intense when an individual’s shadow is longer than their height and most intense during the hours when an individual’s shadow is shorter than their height. Thus, when a person’s height exceeds their shadow length, it is time to consider retreating indoors for a few hours!

A kick ass selfing tip is to be conscious and to spend time outdoors in the summer months. You would be surprised how many people, living in apartments and in big cities spend indoors with the TV on or in front of their computer either creating or being entertained.

The sun shines longer in the Summer and the days are warmer with the effect on our bodily processes can be life changing, particularly in how we feel and what vibes we can give off to those around us. We all want to feel in the best shape possible, take advantage and interact with your environment positively and it will be a sure-fire way to improve your health and could prevent health conditions from developing. 

During the summer months take your workout outdoors

2 men playing their game of basketball outside

Take your workouts outside

Many of us enjoy a workout and let off some steam but in the summer months, does it really make sense to be in some fitness studios or a yoga studio under florescence lights, when outside, all that lovely light is shining that could have a much better effect on your metabolism and hormones?

Check out your local area and check out if activities are taking place outdoors and join in. After all, the summer months are soon gone as you then prepare your body and mind for the hibernating seasons of autumn and winter. 

1. An international survey of insomnia: under-recognition and under-treatment of a polysymptomatic conditionD Leger  1 B Poursain