Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Why Warmer Climates Are Better For Heart Health

Richard Weller: Could the sun be good for your heart?

Published on Jan 17, 2013

"Our bodies get Vitamin D from the sun, but as dermatologist Richard Weller suggests, sunlight may confer another surprising benefit too. New research by his team shows that nitric oxide, a chemical transmitter stored in huge reserves in the skin, can be released by UV light, to great benefit for blood pressure and the cardiovascular system. What does it mean? Well, it might begin to explain why Scots get sick more than Australians ..."


This is a very interesting, in-depth research-discussion on why your heart health is correlated to your latitudinal location. Your latitudinal position determines the amount of sunlight you receive, which is very low especially in winter, in higher latitudes such as Edinburgh.

And as the amount of sunlight received directly affects cardio health (still in research but growing evidence to support this) it explains why people in higher latitudes has poorer cardio health than those living in lower latitudes or sunnier climates, like Australia and the tropics.  Even within a country like Britain there is a noticeable difference between cardio health in cities like London and those further north, like Edinburgh (cf. the north-south health divide).

Nitric oxide, NO, has many benefits but particularly for the cardiovascular system; it dilates blood vessels so it lowers blood pressure, and the coronary artery so it stops angina. It is stored in huge quantities in the skin in more stable forms such as nitrites and nitrates and released by the action of sunlight on the skin.

Weller thinks the sources of NO in the skin comes from diet, from green leaf vegetables, beet root, lettuce, etc. So don't forget to eat your greens even as you sunbathe, in order to get the most of the sun's healthy action!

As Weller suggests it is getting the mix right - the ratio of how much sunlight for beneficial exposure versus getting too much (melanoma risk) but thinks that it is more important to consider getting enough sunlight as heart disease kills many more patients than skin cancer in any one year!  In other words it is wiser to get more rather than less sunshine, especially if you live in higher latitudes (colder climates).

[ Note the inevitable link between good health and green vegetables - there is overwhelming evidence to support that these are fundamental to good health in so many ways.

This is not surprising seeing that it is only plants through cholorophyll (the green pigment in plants) that can capture the photons of energy from the sun and convert them into a form that is usable and available to the rest of the food chain upwards. Indeed if there was no vegetation of any kind, there would be no life.]

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