We all have a sense of what would be considered “junk food.” Things that might come to mind initially: empty calories, fast food, snacks, sweets, processed food, sugar, salt… I’m sure you could think of a few more.
By my definition, junk food could be all of those things, but to narrow the focus slightly, for the purpose of this article I want to define “junk food” as having had the unsaturated fats removed and replaced either by sugar or sodium chloride (table salt).
This is mostly a response to the false nutritional paradigm we’ve been dealing with for the past few decades–the one that claims “fat makes you fat.” Simply put, the more accurate statement would be “sugar makes you fat.” But since the words are the same, it’s an easy leap and food companies have latched onto this idea and won’t let go.
Consequently, fat is removed from foods during processing, but since that makes everything taste like cardboard, food companies add sugar and table salt. Cue diabetes, widespread inflammation, heart disease, cancer, obesity, etc., etc., etc.
So, what does that have to do with light? Great question!
If you think back to high school science class, you’ll probably remember that light exists on a spectrum. On the left side of the spectrum, wavelengths are very small. On the right side, wavelengths are incredibly large. A tiny little sliver of that spectrum–slightly left of the middle–is what your eye can use to turn into images in your brain. Check out the graphic below.
It’s just a rainbow and all the colors that are in a rainbow. (Fun fact, rainbows are much larger than they appear to us in terms of what light is in play. We just don’t see the entire rainbow because of the limitations of our eyes.)
We are children of the Earth, which has always revolved around our sun. That may seem obvious, but it has significance. As the sun rises, it follows this spectrum. The light just before dawn and after dusk is purple. As the sun peaks in the sky, the light we receive into our eyes is in the blue range of the spectrum. As the sun rises just after dawn and sets just before dusk, the light is orange, then red.
Our body responds to this. Just as an example, blue light signals the production of the neurotransmitter Serotonin. That happens in the middle of the day. It makes us feel energetic, pumped, ready to get things done. As the sun sets and the light we receive is in the orange-red side of the spectrum, it signals the release of melatonin, the neurotransmitter that makes us feel sleepy, relaxed, content. It is, after all, bedtime.
This is a rather long train of thought to make my “junk light” metaphor. But finally, here it is.
The modern world is throwing blue light at us from every angle. Your computer screen, your smartphone screen, the LED lights in your office. They are all JUST blue light. The rest of the spectrum has been removed.
Why? It takes up a lot of energy to project the entire visible spectrum from a screen or light bulb. And our society is understandably concerned about conserving energy. So when you get those “energy saver” bulbs from Duke Energy, it’s all blue light. If you work in an office all day, then go home and watch TV until bedtime, it’s all blue light.
Just like the good fats have been removed from “junk food,” the good light has been removed from “junk light.”
And we wonder why we’re tired, sleepless and depressed.
What should I do?
Great question! Here are some ideas:
- If you are someone who uses a computer all day or close to it, download and use this free app called Iris. It removes the blue light from your computer screen. You can get it for your phone too.
- If you are surrounded by LED light at home or in the office, consider getting one of these bulbs for the evening hours (it’s an infrared light). For added effectiveness, use it in a lamp that you can point directly at your body. This helps to to stimulate the production of melatonin.
- Spend more time outside. Use the solar cycle to your advantage. For example, in the morning, go outside as the sun is coming up to take advantage of that early morning light. During your lunch break, go outside and soak up some of that mid-day blue light. As the sun is going down, go for another walk and enjoy the sunset. Just get into the groove of the natural cycle of day and night.
Light is a largely misunderstood aspect of overall health. This is merely an introduction and there are many doctors and health advocates who have taken this cause up full-force.
If you feel strong nutritionally, neurologically and in terms of your toxicity, I recommend the influence of light be your next step. And of course, I’m always available for questions.