Gut Problems? Get That Belly in the Sun!

by Sarah TheHealthyHomeEconomist November 22, 2011

When I was pregnant with each of my three children, I experienced extremely strong urges to sit in the sun with my belly uncovered.   I did this as often as I could, typically 2-4 times a week depending on weather conditions.

This urge to sunbathe my belly was pretty much a constant thing from the very early part of the pregnancy right through to when labor started.

I didn’t understand at the time why I was wanting to sunbathe my belly all the time, but sometimes you don’t need to understand all the ins and outs about something to do it. You just figure that you instinctively know what you need and that the answers will come later.

My husband used to tease me a lot about my belly sunning habit.

“There she goes flashing the neighborhood again!”  he would joke.

We would both laugh and scratch out heads and wonder about this strange obsession.

Once I learned about the importance of the fat soluble vitamins and Vitamin D in particular through the teachings of Dr. Weston A. Price, I figured the belly sunning thing might be simply a primitive urge to increase my Vitamin D levels for the benefit of the fetus.

However, I never fully bought into that notion as sitting in the sun with plenty of skin exposed but my belly covered did not feel the same.

It just felt so good to get that belly in the sun.   It just wasn’t the same as my legs in the sun though that was certainly nice too.

What I was getting from the sun was much more than just Vitamin D as it turns out ….

Dr. Natasha Campbell-McBride MD Unlocks the Mystery

At the Wise Traditions Conference recently, I think I have finally gotten an answer to this long held question.  The answer came unexpectedly while chatting with Dr. Natasha Campbell-McBride MD, author of the groundbreaking book Gut and Psychology Syndrome.

Dr. Natasha was telling me about some very new research that indicates that certain wavelengths of the sun that have not been studied before actually pass right through the human body and have an energetically balancing and overall beneficial effect on the human physiology.

And, in the case of a pregnant woman, these rays could energetically benefit the fetus as well when the belly is exposed to full spectrum sunlight.

What’s more, Dr. Natasha suggested that these deeply penetrating sunwaves have the potential to kill candida and other gut pathogens to the benefit of the gut environment as a whole!

This gut balancing effect would have especially positive implications during pregnancy, when the immune system is depressed due to pregnancy hormones giving any gut pathogens an easy opportunity to potentially take over dominance from beneficial flora.

Dr. Mercola touched on this exciting new area of research as well during his keynote address at the Wise Traditions 2011 banquet when he said that the sun has an antiseptic effect on the human body.   He said that if a person has toenail fungus, for example, simply getting the affected foot out in the direct sun for a few minutes each day for a period of time would clear the infection!

He even went on to say that sunbathing the armpits would go a very long way toward eliminating body odor from that part of the body!

The implications of using the sun as a simple and inexpensive way to rebalance the gut flora and improve overall health is nothing short of astounding and very encouraging to those who have long struggled with gut imbalance issues.

Even those with persistent body odor that requires the use of deodorants or anti-perspirants, frequently a sign of gut imbalance, may find that frequent jaunts in the sun tremendously help the problem.

So get outside and let the power of the sun go to work for you today!   Don’t forget to skip the sunscreen and flash that belly while you’re at it!

 

Sarah, The Healthy Home Economist

Picture Credit

 

Comments (91)

  1. This makes sense to me, but I have recently had a large portion of my back skin removed due to melanoma, and the doctor cautioned me to basically avoid all sun. According to your understanding, is melanoma caused by sun, genetics, or something else?

    Reply
    • Sarah, The Healthy Home Economist
      Sarah, The Healthy Home Economist November 22, 2011 at 11:22 am

      Melanoma is most definitely not caused by the sun. Melanoma rates go higher the farther north you go! Melanoma rates in my state of Florida are lower than Michigan!

      I’m sure your doctor is well meaning, but he is unfortunately like many doctors, sadly misguided and not at all up on current research.

      Melanoma is auto immune … auto immune issues all originate in the gut (per GAPS book), so getting your stomach in the sun would be one of the best things you could possibly do in my opinion besides a wholesale diet change to rebalance your gut. The GAPS book would be an invaluable resource on your journey.

      Reply
        • Thank you for your reply. I am nursing, and have a 10 week baby. Is it healthy for him if I do the GAPS diet? I do feel like my stomach is messed up since surgery, probably from the IV antibiotics. I have been drinking broth, eating yogurt, and taking a probiotic along with prenatal vitamins. But, other than those additions, I have been eating a pretty standard american diet.

          Reply
          • Sarah, TheHealthyHomeEconomist

            There is much detoxification that happens on GAPS. Doing it while pregnant or nursing is a dicey choice. I personally would wait until you wean. You can certainly get on a Traditional Diet though! Add in PLENTY of good fats with emphasis on the sacred foods such as deep yellow grassfed butter, liver and other organ meats, pastured eggs, fish eggs. I have a video on this on my Contact – Sarah page. Lots of broth is excellent!!! Try to reduce that processed food or even eliminate if you can. I know it’s a difficult thing to do. Take it a step at a time and be persistent.
            Sarah, TheHealthyHomeEconomist\’s last post: Gut Problems? Get That Belly in the Sun!

          • Many people recommend you do the full GAPS diet, but not the intro, during pregnancy and nursing. You may find it difficult to get enough calories on GAPS though (I do — I need something like 3,000 calories a day!). You should probably just do the best real-food diet you can, with plenty of fat, liver, eggs, raw milk if you can get it, and veggies.

            I’ll second what Sarah said about melanoma. This is what I was told when I had suspected skin cancer (which luckily turned out to be just a funky mole) — the other times of skin cancer may be caused by sun damage (from excessive sunburns, not normal exposure) but melanoma often appears in parts of the body that aren’t exposed to the sun — scalp, soles of feet, inside of nose, etc. Even mainstream doctors usually agree it isn’t caused by sun.
            Sheila\’s last post: An exercise in futility

      • Why do you think melanoma is autoimmune? All diseases involve the failture of the immune system in some sense, but that doesn’t make them autoimmune – i.e. the body attacking itself. You could argue that cancer is a kind of opposite to autoimmunity – the body not removing self cells that need to be eliminated because they are damaged.

        Reply
    • Hi Joy,
      My dermatologist told me that that Melanoma is not caused by the sun. (Just like Sarah said.) He did tell me to avoid it though, due to other types of cancer. I just can’t bring myself to avoid the sun and I rarely put on sunscreen, unless I’m going to be out a long time and want to avoid sunburn.

      You may want to get some advice on the scar tissue and sun. We had to avoid exposing the scar tissue to sunburn due to “permanent” skin color change. We didn’t take chances and just kept the scars covered, both with sunscreen and cloth. We didn’t want the scars to be any more noticeable than necessary.

      Reply
    • I have also research soaps, lotions, oil, etc. that they say are safe for you. However most soap etc on the market is FULL of chemicals that cause cancer. One of those being skin cancer. Sunscreen is a big to on that. They just want to make money off people so they spread fear about what is healthy. As said tan, just a little pink should be tan in morning and shouldn’t hurt. Mercola.com does a great job explaining how. I find it very interesting that the one patch of skin cancer my dad got was along his ear. not on nose or area that really stands out to sun. He always came out of bathroom after shaving with shave cream there. Chemical cream. I spent my child/teen years telling him to go wash it off. he rubbed it in instead. HUUUM???????

      Reply
  2. So my question is this, what do you do when you live in a northern state and this time of year it’s so cold outside that you don’t even leave the house without multiple layers?

    Reply
  3. Anna Griffin Kirkland via Facebook November 22, 2011 at 11:38 am

    Seems like I remember having the urge to bare my belly in the sunshine during my last pregnancy. It just felt so good to stretch out in a chair in the sun and get as much clothing off my pregnant belly as I could.

    Reply
  4. I had to spend a long time in the dermatologist’s waiting room last Friday, and was soooooo frustrated with all the bad info they kept posting on their information screen. “Stay out of the sun. Always wear sunblock. Use mineral oil all over your skin.” ACK! I had to wonder if it was a misinformation campaign to boost business. They kept touting broccoli for skin health, never mentioning bone broth or healthy fats. Really, really frustrating.
    Laurie\’s last post: Creamy Scalloped Potatoes

    Reply
  5. This means I’m not crazy! I always loved the feeling of the sun on my belly, pregnant or not. After many, many years of covering up with clothing and sunscreen I can now go back to being “normal.” LOL!

    Reply
  6. When I saw this post title, that’s exactly what I thought of — I sat in the sun and exposed my belly all the time when I was pregnant this past summer. I would go sit outside wearing as little clothing as I felt I could (in my own yard) and sun my legs, arms, and belly. I had to do it. Crazy compulsion. I also had no idea why I needed or wanted to do this, but I just did. Apparently that’s a good thing, lol.

    Reply
    • I been sunning as much skin as I can depending on where I live (house after house as growing up , in swimsuit. now in woods and hiddin, bare to almost bare. watch for low fling planes and have blanket read.lol) sense I was little. Mom always said, get a tan it’s good for you. Don’t believe the hogwash you here. So now when my kid is born, that kid will start tanning as soon as i see sun out and we can go out and sit in it for 10 to 15 min. for first few days and more as tan develops. I’m sure people will see my baby has a GOOD tan and start in on me. I have many web pages and books to hand them to enlighten them to the truth. as well as, God made the sun, man made sunscreen. Who do you think knows best, man or God.

      Reply
      • i like especially like that last sentance of yours. Although truth, the other end of that truth is that mankind has messed up the ozone layer that God created as well. Therefore the balance of what is good for us and now what is harmful is messed up too. :(

        Reply
  7. I frequently sunbathe in my backyard, for about an hour at a time, and I always uncover as much of my body as I can, including my belly. Of course now it’s cold and cloudy here in ID. But you can bet that this summer I was out as much as possible to try to build up some stores for winter time. Even now in the cold weather I go hiking with my dog everyday in the foothills near my house, and when the sun peeks out, I take off my coat, roll up my sleeves, and if it’s warm enough like it was on Sunday, sometimes I take off my shirt and just wear my tank top that’s always on underneath. Great post Sarah! :)

    Reply
  8. Funny, I did the exact same thing with my pregnancies!! I remember worrying about the heat of the sun affecting my unborn children but just could not help myself from basking in the sun!!! Maybe that is another reason neither of my teens have ever had cavities, lol!

    Reply
  9. Cool! I too have many lovely memories of belly-baring pregnancies. I also discovered on 2 occasions when I was sick with a flu-type thing, achy joints, etc. in the late summer, early fall when it was still warm and sunny out, I laid out on my grass, exposing as much skin as possible, and unbelievably it worked as a pain reliever! The effect lasted for awhile even after I came inside. Unfortunately, this isn’t an option in the dead of winter, but I just thought that was very interesting how the sun worked on my body.

    Reply
  10. Oh my goodness! I had no idea that melanoma was an auto immune issuse! I have always loved being in the sun. I am like a wilting flower without the sunshine. Even on cloudy days like this, even though the temperature isn’t cold, I just want to hibernate. I have never really bought into the “sun is bad for you” thinking, but I always felt a little guilty if I spent too many hours in the pool. I only wear sunscreen on my face an no where else. Now I know that my desire for sun on my skin is natural and healthy!!

    I do wonder about the sun prematurely aging our skin though…what do you think, Sarah?

    Reply
  11. This is so fascinating. Thanks for sharing, Sarah!

    It really bothers me that many (read: most) allopathic physicians – and especially dermatologists – urge patients to avoid sun at all costs and dump all sorts of nasty chemicals on their bodies to “protect them from the sun’s harmful rays”. What ridiculousness! How can a sane person fall for this huge scam – man-made chemicals will save you from the natural sun that has been supplying the earth with energy for millennia?!

    Anyway, thanks Sarah for pointing out how important the sun is for health. I would add that they’re finding all sorts of other benefits to sun exposure including cancer prevention: http://health.usnews.com/health-news/family-health/heart/articles/2008/06/23/time-in-the-sun-how-much-is-needed-for-vitamin-d_print.html And it turns out Vitamin D supplementation doesn’t even come close to obtaining it from the sun: http://www.nature.com/news/2011/110706/full/475023a.html. 3/4 of American adults and teens are Vitamin D deficient (which is linked to a ton of diseases), so people need MORE sun. The only caveat is that there IS such a thing as overexposure, and that’s dangerous (burning is an obvious indication of overexposure). But most people are deficient … so advising them to spend more time in the sun is a wise idea!
    Heba @ My Life in a Pyramid\’s last post: Letter to Chipotle: Rock on but without the burnt pieces, please!

    Reply
  12. I had the EXACY SAME urge when I was pregnant, Sarah!
    Also, I just wanted to mention regarding melanoma, that I have been on a leaky gut/GAPS type diet for about a month now. There had been a funny, rough, dark patch of skin on my face (for about 1.5 years) that I was getting worried about because it seemed to fit the criteria for a skin cancer-ish type growth. Well, guess what? It’s gone now. About 1 week (seriously, 1 WEEK) into this diet (not to mention the ‘spontaneous remission’ of the chronic idiopathic urticaria (giant hives with ‘no cause’ ;). Of course I never had it diagnosed but now I don’t have to worry about it. So break out the ferments and the broth and get to work healing your gut. And be sure to get some sunshine while you are at it :)
    Adrienne\’s last post: Italian Baked Beans

    Reply
  13. Sarah! Good for you getting this down. I remember them both speaking of this at the conference and wanting to get more information. Thanks!
    To go along with this, I’ve recently been researching the sun’s amazing affects on our eyes. Supposedly, staring into the sun when it is low in the sky (at sunrise or sunset) can have a healing effect on eyes and improve eyesight. During the day when the sun is high, we can’t look directly into it, but the rays bounce off of everything and into our eyes, keeping them well. With all of our sunglasses wearing, we don’t get a chance to absorb those rays very often into our eyes. Maybe a new blog post for you to research about? ;) All I know is that I”m getting rid of my sunglasses and letting those rays into my eyes.
    Jami @ Eat Nourishing\’s last post: Creamy Chicken Pot Pie

    Reply
  14. I couldn’t help but laugh when I read this because it describes my first pregnancy perfectly! Currently in my third trimester with number two and I don’t have those overwhelming urges this time around. I can only think to attribute this to the fact that I now take daily doses of high quality probiotic {Pharmax HLC} and make & enjoy my own kefir. With #1 I literally wanted to walk around all day with my shirt pulled-it was the craziest thing {especially because I’m extremely private with that particular part of my body}. I haven’t gotten off scot-free this time though because I did sun my bottom once……or twice ;-)

    Reply
  15. Just to jump into the whole sun exposure debate, I’m extremely fair skinned and have burned frequently. I worked at a Naturopathic clinic where one of the doctors was working on an ‘internal’ sunscreen. If I remember correctly it was Vitamins E & C, selenium, and zinc. I essentially was getting all of these through my multivitamin {again Pharmax-it’s what we sold-Four pillars}, Virmunity, and diet. Once I went out to lay by the pool, intending to swim, and took the antioxidant pill and drank a bottle of Emergen C water….well, I woke up three hours later. No burn! I went into work on Monday in utter disbelief and this was when she explained how certain vitamins can act as an internal sunscreen. It was really amazing! I would slam a pack of the Virmunity before any long term sun exposure and I’d be A-okay.
    Morgan\’s last post: Why that preggo belly deserves some sun!

    Reply
    • It’s true: the very best internal sunscreen is an extremely potent antioxidant, such as astixanthin. One of my little sisters is extremely fair, and although she would take a while to burn considering her skin (usually about 30 mintutes or so) due to our wonderfully nourishing diet at home. But if we just give her an astixanthin about 10 minutes before goin into the sun, she seems to become un-burnable! We litterally went out into the beach, in the summer, in Florida, no shade, for 4 hours, and no one was the least bit burnt!

      Reply
  16. Yeah, not going to happen in Virginia in the winter! But interesting information and it makes sense. Doesn’t help me that both of my pregnancies have been the majority of the time in cold weather.

    Reply
  17. I have to say though, my nana did this a lot when she was pregnant and my uncle (who she was pregnant with at the time) was born with a HUGE birthmark all over his back which never faded and he still has and it has been the bain of his life. He has very fair skin and nothing has been proven, of course, but it is interesting to note. I would just be careful, that’s all!

    Reply
  18. I had major urges to get out in the sun this Summer so I went ahead and followed my instincts by getting out in the sun and wearing a light sunscreen cover in the most sensitive areas (chest, face, and upper back). After a few weeks I did notice a real improvement in my mood and sweat didn’t smell as bad. I think it worked even better for my odor issues then avoding grains.

    Reply
  19. Sarah ,
    This is slightly off topic, but what is your opinion of taking colostrum for gut imbalance? Are you familiar with “New Life” products? I have recently started taking them after having severe cystic acne breakouts and flareups with eczema that I have had as far back as I can remember (I’m 27). I know your a fan of GAPS so I was wondering if maybe you know that colostrum doesn’t work because if it did it would certainly be easier than GAPS. I’ve been taking it for a little over a week and am about to step up to larger doses because I’ve not seen any improvement yet (as they said I would) and it’s a little pricey. Do you have any insight on this?

    Reply
  20. Whenever I go out in the sun I cover my exposed skin in the highest quality coconut oil (organic, virgin, cold pressed etc) as I remember reading it contains a natural SPF, and although I love being out in the sun and don’t want to wear sunscreen, I also don’t want to burn and I think this had helped! Just want to make sure this won’t hinder all that great vitamin D though.. thoughts?

    Reply
  21. Hi!
    Thanks for that article. I wonder if put the belly in the sun would also help with menstrual problems… I’ll try it next time it’s not freezing outside… :)

    Reply
  22. Like a bunch of people here, I’ve only ever been pregnant in the winter. But once the baby was born, I made sure the two of us both got 15 minutes of sun a day. It’s funny — everyone tells you to keep your baby out of the sun, not let a single ray of that harmful sunshine touch his skin, but he loved it and was healthy all summer long! They say breastfed babies tend to be vitamin D deficient, but “still keep them out of the sun, just give them drops.” No way — he got his sun, never enough to burn, but enough to warm up his little naked self and give him some vitamin D. I’ll do the same with the baby coming next spring!
    Sheila\’s last post: An exercise in futility

    Reply
  23. About sunburns: something many people do not know is that if the body is deficient in vitamin F and calcium, the skin can use less of the suns goodness and will burn instead. The reason for this is because vit F is vit D’s antagonist. They are both fighting over the calcium, so if there is one more present then the other you will have problems. If you supply your body with plenty of vit F, and plenty of bio-availiable calcium, you can enjoy plenty of sun with no ill effects. This works even when you are already burnt. Here is a website that talks more about it.

    Reply
  24. When I was pregnant with my son, my eczema came back with a vengeance, especially on my belly. I was so desperate to deal with it that I sunbathed very frequently with my belly exposed. I had no idea of the benefits of sunning my belly until I read this post. Little did I know my baby boy would benefit! And it felt so healing and nourishing just feeling the sun’s rays.

    Now that it’s too cold for me to sunbathe, do you have any recommendations as to what I can do to maximize sun exposure to the eczema-covered parts of my body? Is there something nutritionally I could do to have a similar effect? I wish I could move to a place where it’s sunny and warm all the time!

    Reply
  25. Hey Sarah! I have a question that relates to this… I am considering a light box to help with sad and maybe improve my Vit D levels. Do you have an opinion on this? I heard Dr. Mercola mention that he uses one. I live in West Texas and we can have 3-4 months of no sun and it is a bit discouraging. Anyway, if you or any of your savvy bloggers can give me some tips on this, like brands, or features, wattage? etc; I would greatly appreciate it! Thanks!

    Reply
  26. Isabell Norman via Facebook August 19, 2012 at 6:02 pm

    It always felt good with having the belly out in the sun for me, not just when pregnant, now we know there is a reason for it. Haven’t done it in years, maybe I need to start that old habit again

    Reply
  27. I too was obsessive about being in the sun 27 years ago when pregnant. Recently I have tried to get 15-20 minutes of belly sun a couple times a week. For 3 years I’ve gone sunscreen free after decades of use for skin cancer prevention. I have also noted since changing my diet much reduced body odor and I no longer burn with managed sun exposure. Between all the changes got rid of that costly purple pill too!

    Reply
  28. “Put off your shoes and your clothing and suffer the angel of sunlight to embrace all your body. Then breathe long and deeply, that the angel of sunlight may be brought within you. And the angel of sunlight shall cast out of your body all evil-smelling and unclean things which defiled it without and within. And all unclean and evil-smelling things shall rise from you, even as the darkness of night fades before the brightness of the rising sun. For I tell you truly, holy is the angel of sunlight who cleans out all uncleannesses and makes all evil-smelling things of a sweet odor.” http://tinyurl.com/gsplpc

    Reply
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  32. I’m 30 weeks pregnant and all I want to do is sunbathe. I used to tan outside in the summer and use a tanning bed (minimally) in winter before I was pregnant. I live in CO and the sun just doesn’t want to make an early appearance this year. I’m literally dying to get in the sun. But Im worried about a tanning salon. Do you think it’s safe to go for 5 minutes every other day in the lowest setting tanning bed? I know I need sun.

    Reply
  33. I grew up in S. FL and my belly got a lot of sun as I was growing up. Never had any GI illnesses and pretty healthy kid. Fast forward several decades and I developed reflux/GERD and spent a couple years on the purple pill. Still had bad reflux, changed my eating, improved but not gone. Stopped the pills and upped my Vit D, cleaned up the eating even more and started sun bathing again! I read a little blurb in an article about sun on the belly. I try for 15-20 minutes several times a week. It really has helped.

    Reply

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