Let There Be Light: Are There Varying Qualities of Light Sources?
Think back to the last time you saw a rainbow. The arch of colors in the sky depicts red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo, and violet. Are you aware that the rainbow colors that you see are the result of the light of the sun being split into discrete color frequencies? When the light passes through water vapors (that are found in clouds) at just the right angle, the water molecules act like a prism, separating the light into various color bands.
Rainbows are an incredible and beautiful phenomenon in which your eyes can feast on the spectrum of colors ranging from red to orange to yellow to green to blue to indigo to violet. These familiar colors are known as the visible spectrum; in other words, these colors are visible because they are within a specific range of electromagnetic frequencies (EMFs) that your eye can see. Are there other EMFs that are invisible? Yes, there are countless non-visible frequencies of EMFs, and in fact, the visible spectrum is quite tiny compared to non-visible frequencies.
Each color of the rainbow and the non-visible EMFs has a unique frequency (and corresponding unique wavelength). Red has a relatively long wavelength (700 nanometers) but a slower frequency than violet (400 nanometers). Wavelengths longer than red are not visible and are known as infrared (which literally means a frequency below/slower than red) while those invisible wavelengths shorter than violet are know as ultraviolet (which literally means a frequency above/faster than violet). While infrared and ultraviolet are terms I am sure you have heard of, I bet most of you do not recognize the important effect that infrared EMFs and ultraviolet EMFs have on your body.
Historical Use of Light as Medicine
If you look back to our previous blog, Here Comes the Sun: Is Sunlight The Most Essential Nutrient For Your Body?, you may remember reading about how sunlight is not only essential to all living life on planet Earth, but how the electromagnetic frequencies of sunlight have been used for centuries to cure illness and improve overall health. This is because many of the EMFs contained in sunlight have specific health enhancing effects on your body.
How Red Light (and Infrared Light) has Healing Properties
Chromophores are regions in molecules that are able to absorb EMFs within the visible spectrum. Visible light that makes contact with the chromophore can actually transform the energy of the absorbed light into biochemical energy. There are Chromophores within the mitochondria of your skin cells that are able to absorb light, especially the red and infrared light. Mitochondria are parts of the cells in your body that are responsible for energy production. Consequently, insufficient red and infrared light exposure can slow down the energy production in your body. Fortunately, sufficient red and infrared light exposure can actually boost energy production, especially in your cells where energy low energy may be a problem. This light-derived energy can help to optimize your bodily functions, help repair damaged cells from disease or aging, and increase your overall health and wellness.
Ultraviolet Light – Friend or Foe?
Ultraviolet light is a high-energy form of EMFs. These high-energy frequencies are necessary for your life and health but they can also cause damage to your physiology as well. Fortunately, nature has provided natural protections against the more damaging frequencies while permitting the absorption and utilization of the beneficial frequencies.
The ozone layer of the Earth’s atmosphere absorbs a vast majority of the most harmful ultraviolet frequencies known as UVC (200-280 nanometers) and UVB (290-320 nanometers). Less than 0.1% of these (mostly) harmful, high frequency (short wavelength) EMFs will reach the surface of the Earth in the summer at the equator at high noon.
Conversely, approximately 5% of UVA (321-400 nanometers) does reach the Earth’s surface. Contrast these numbers to those for visible light (39%) and infrared light (56%) passing through the ozone layer and reaching the surface of the planet.
Your body does need a small quantity of UVA and UVB to promote specific important physiologic processes as these frequencies affect a part of your hypothalamus known as your pro-opio-melano-cortin receptor (POMC). Your POMC is responsible for the production of vital substances such as beta-endorphins, adrenocorticotropic hormone (ACTH), nitric oxide (NO), melatonin and substance P. This area of your brain is also responsible for setting your biological clock, known as your circadian rhythm. UVA and UVB are mostly absorbed by specialized cells in the epidermis of your skin known as melanocytes. These melanocytes produce a pigment known as melanin, which causes your skin to tan when exposed to these specific frequencies in sunlight. The melanin, in turn is able to absorb harmful ultraviolet wavelengths and protect your skin (and internal organs) from damaging UV light.
How (Energy Efficient) Blue Lights/LED Lights are destroying your Health
As we have discussed, natural sunlight contains a wide spectrum of electromagnetic frequencies (EMFs), ranging from infrared (and below) through the visible spectrum and into the ultraviolet (and above). The old fashioned light bulbs (known as incandescent light bulbs) did a pretty good job simulating natural sunlight in that these light bulbs provided the entire visible spectrum of light, plus they gave off infrared frequencies as well (which is why the incandescent light bulbs get very hot). The heat coming out of the incandescent light bulbs could be considered a “waste of energy” because some of the electricity used to light the bulb is turned into thermal energy (heat).
Modern, energy efficient light bulbs, no longer emit infrared and red light. These cool blue LED (Light-emitting Diode) lights have overtaken the market largely due to their energy efficiency and government mandates. However, LEDs can be extremely damaging to your body and can be detrimental to your health. Blue light emits the highest energy in the visible spectrum and consequently causes the most oxidative stress (and damage) in your cells. In fact, this kind of oxidative stress impairs energy production and cellular repair mechanisms in your body by damaging your mitochondria. Moreover, recent studies have shown that recurrent exposures to these artificial LED lights can contribute to macular degeneration and blindness.
If you think back to ancient times, our ancestors got light from the sun or fire, both of which emit red and infrared light; not a cool, blue light. Moreover, this is where the detrimental effects of using LED lights come in, especially after sunset at night. Overnight when your body needs to repair and restore bodily functions and help maintain circadian rhythm, use of LED lights in light bulbs, TV, laptops, smartphones, etc can disturb your body’s natural processes. Did you happen to notice that Apple added a nighttime light feature on an update, which emits a yellow light, rather than the bright white light? Apple must understand the adverse impact that blue light sources (that are deficient in red light) have on your body!
What Can You Do?
When astronauts go into space for a mission, it is imperative that they get exposure to the full spectrum of light like those from the sun. In fact, if the astronauts do not receive sunlight (or equivalent frequencies) into their bodies, they would eventually suffer many ill effects. These ill effects include mood disorders, sleep disturbances, immune system problems, fatigue, cognitive impairment and more. But how do astronauts get sunlight when they are flying in a space ship? NASA has utilized companies to develop special light bulbs for their space program that emit light wavelengths that can imitate the entire spectrum of light. NASA uses special bulbs to emulate daylight conditions (stressing the shorter, more bluish wavelengths) and special bulbs to copy evening conditions (stressing the longer, more reddish wavelengths).
These specially developed light bulbs offer health benefits that the harsh, commercially available cool blue LED lights do not. During the daytime, you should also absorb as much natural light as you can, with the blinds wide open or spending much time outdoors. The old fashioned incandescent light bulbs (or a good old fashioned fire) are also a healthy alternative as these time-tested light sources emit beneficial wavelengths. Now that you have been enlightened about the importance of EMFs, couple this knowledge with these 7 simple healthy habits, and you are sure to be on your way to improvements in your overall wellness.
Come in for a consultation with Dr. Rothman by calling (732) 268-7663 and begin living a life of metabolically directed wellness today!