A Root Cause of Chronic Disease Decreasing Your Lifespan - Fix This Today! | Dr. Cowan

Added: May 27, 2024

In this podcast episode, Dr. Alexis Cowan discusses the significant impact of "junk light" on chronic disease in America, emphasizing that artificial light, rather than junk food, is a major contributor to health issues. Dr. Cowan's insights into light biology and its effects on the body have profoundly transformed her approach to health and wellness. She delves into the evolutionary trajectory of humans and how modern artificial light sources, such as fluorescent and LED lights, differ from the natural spectrum of sunlight.

Key takeaways


Doctor Alexis Cowan highlights that artificial light, particularly blue light from sources like fluorescent and LED lights, is a significant contributor to chronic diseases in America, more so than junk food.


The overabundance of blue light in artificial sources disrupts circadian rhythms and mitochondrial function, leading to metabolic issues and affecting various bodily functions.


The absence of red and infrared light, combined with excessive blue light, negatively impacts metabolism, hormone synthesis, cognition, mood, and memory. Natural sunlight, especially during sunrise and sunset, is crucial for maintaining circadian rhythms and mitochondrial health.


UVB light is essential for vitamin D production and endorphin synthesis, which are vital for mood, cognition, and overall well-being. Optimizing vitamin D levels through sun exposure is recommended.


Doctor Cowan challenges the belief that sun exposure is the primary cause of skin cancer, pointing out that vitamin D deficiency is linked to melanomas and that indoor workers are more prone to skin cancers than outdoor workers.

The Impact of Blue Light on Circadian Rhythms

Dr. Cowan explains that the human body evolved to respond to specific wavelengths of light, particularly blue light, which signals the brain about the time of day. However, artificial light sources often lack the red and infrared light present in sunlight, leading to metabolic disruptions. The overabundance of blue light in artificial sources can inhibit mitochondrial function and disrupt circadian rhythms. Exposure to excessive blue light at night can confuse the body's internal clock, affecting various bodily functions.

She recommends minimizing blue light exposure indoors by using amber or red light bulbs, installing filters on electronic devices, and utilizing apps like Iris to reduce blue light emission. Additionally, she suggests incorporating red and infrared light panels in indoor spaces to counterbalance the lack of natural light.

The Importance of Balancing Light Exposure

The absence of red and infrared light, combined with the overabundance of blue light, can have detrimental effects on metabolism, hormone synthesis, wakefulness, cognition, mood, and memory. Dr. Cowan stresses the importance of balancing light exposure and incorporating natural sunlight into daily routines. She recommends leveraging sunrise and sunset, which are rich in red and infrared light, to support mitochondrial function and circadian rhythms.

The Importance of UV Light in Health

Dr. Cowan also discusses the significance of UV light in health. UVB light stimulates vitamin D production and the synthesis of endorphins, which play a role in mood, cognition, and overall well-being. She encourages individuals to optimize their vitamin D levels, aiming for 60-80 nanograms per milliliter, through sun exposure. She suggests using apps like Dminder to track sunlight exposure and tailor it to individual needs based on location, skin tone, and cloud cover.

Reevaluating Sun Exposure and Skin Cancer

Addressing concerns about sun exposure and skin cancer, Dr. Cowan challenges the notion that the sun is solely responsible for skin cancers. She points out that vitamin D deficiency is linked to melanomas and skin cancers, highlighting the paradox of indoor workers being more prone to melanomas than outdoor workers. She questions the causal relationship between the sun and skin cancer, emphasizing the importance of balancing sun exposure with other environmental factors.

The Role of Alpha and Beta MSH

Furthermore, Dr. Cowan discusses the role of Alpha and beta Melanocyte-stimulating hormone and cleavage products of proopiomelanocortin, in regulating appetite, energy expenditure, and melanin production. She explains how sunlight exposure stimulates the production of Alpha and beta Melanocyte-stimulating hormone, which can aid in weight management, metabolic health, and skin protection.

Practical Tips for Circadian Health

In terms of practical tips for improving circadian health, Dr. Cowan suggests implementing a good, better, best framework. This includes reducing blue light exposure indoors, getting adequate sunlight exposure throughout the day, and incorporating red and infrared light therapy for additional benefits. She recommends using red light devices for therapeutic purposes, such as supporting muscle recovery, injury healing, and overall mitochondrial function.

Optimizing Gut Health Through Light Exposure

Dr. Cowan shares her personal journey of discovering the connection between light exposure, microbiome health, and overall wellness. She highlights the importance of bifidobacteria and acromania in supporting a healthy microbiome and reducing inflammation in the body. By focusing on these key bacterial groups and leveraging sunlight exposure, we can improve our gut health, metabolic function, and overall well-being.

Embracing nature for optimal health

Dr. Cowan emphasizes the importance of connecting with nature and following our body's natural cues to optimize our health. She encourages listeners to be honest with themselves about the impact of modern technology and lifestyle on their well-being and to make conscious choices to prioritize natural light exposure.


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