Hi there. Thanks for taking a few minute to read some thoughts I’ve put together on light. It’s a hot-button topic in health these days with people on both sides of the aisle screaming at each other. I’m in the camp of “light really matters”, but I hope to provide a non-combative, scientifically-driven approach to this question: does light matter, and is blue light disrupting our biology? Thoughts, questions and comments are encouraged, but please keep an open mind while you read 🙂
(Inspired by Dr. Jack Kruse’s Nourish Vermont 2017 Speech)
Einstein’s theory of relativity: E=mc2. This statement means that energy is equal to mass. The only difference is the light environment. This same idea can also be restated as the Mass-Energy Equivalence. Wiki here.
“Energy equals mass times the speed of light squared.” On the most basic level, the equation says that energy and mass (matter) are interchangeable; they are different forms of the same thing. Under the right conditions, energy can become mass, and vice versa.” – pbs.org
Let’s consider the environment on Earth, this green and blue ball that we all hang out and make babies on. Here, light is bent and slowed down in a uniquely Earthy way that allows organic compounds to harvest the light energy. Light is bent and slowed down by the atmospheric gases and gravity, bent and slowed down by natural features – everything from mountains to water to sand – and bent and slowed down by the organic features of the planet such as plants and animals.
- Plants and animals absorbing energy = “bent and slowed down”
- Water absorbing sunlight energy, becoming warmer = “bent and slowed down”
Plants and animals both absorb light energy; we see examples of this in photosynthesis in plants and vitamin D production from cholesterol in humans (and some other mammals). That light energy slows down as it enters the organism and performs work; like a boat catching wind in it’s sales to propel the vessel.
Speaking specifically for humans, and to restate the idea, our biological system is evolved to perform biological processes, like producing energy from fat tissue, distilling glucose into storable energy like glycogen, and like growing muscle, bone, organ, hair, other tissue, and braincells. These processes are driven by an orchestra of functions like eating, breathing, walking, running, etc. The maestro of all these processes is the Sun. We wake up when the sun comes up, we eat while the sun is up, we go to sleep when the sun goes down, we repair tissue while sleeping and while the sun is down.
From an evolutionary perspective, humans have always operated with the sun. We’ve never had a need to “unconsider” any light source, because here has always only been the sun, moon and stars. But now there are computers, laptops, cellphones, LEDS and more. Now there are many small suns projecting a blue-light spectrum all while our Master Clock, Maestro, and Energy King, the Sun, filled with a rainbow of light spectrums, continues it’s path – sometimes completely ignored by our night shift jobs and indoor living – across the sky day-in and day-out.
Consider the human eye. Eyes see light. We can only see when there is light. No light, no sight. Light is absorbed through the eyes, where the light is bent and refracted and distilled into a signal to pass to the brain via the optic nerve. The optic nerve is directly connected to the Suprachaismatic Nucleus (SCN), “a tiny region of the brain in the hypothalamus, situated directly above the optic chiasm. It is responsible for controlling circadian rhythms.” – wiki.
DISTILLATION: Eyes absorb light to create images that we “see” and signals to the hypothalamus the time of day so that the circadian rhythm can control biological processes like waking, growing, eating and sleeping.
So why all the fuss about blue light? Living and relying on a modern-day light environment is like going out into the ocean to surf a single wave, and then finding that there are small swells coming from shore, and from the left, and from the right, and from above and below, all while you are trying to surf the main swell coming perpendicularly towards the beach. It’s choppy water out there and it’s almost impossible to ride a decent wave.
But in our day-to-day we aren’t surfing, we are performing the biological processes of our life: the growth of muscle and bone, the production of energy from food, the transformation of fats into hormones, the creation of the very neurotransmitters that make us feel happy, sad or indifferent… these things are driven primarily, above all, by the Sun as the light is passed through the eye, to the Suprachiasmatic Nucleaus that controls circadian rhythm.
CIRCADIAN RHYTHM: “Circadian rhythms allow organisms to anticipate and prepare for precise and regular environmental changes. They thus enable organisms to best capitalize on environmental resources (e.g. light and food) compared to those that cannot predict such availability. It has therefore been suggested that circadian rhythms put organisms at a selective advantage in evolutionary terms. However, rhythmicity appears to be as important in regulating and coordinating internal metabolic processes, as in coordinating with the environment” – wiki
Yes, food matters, exercise matters, breathing matters, posture matters… but all of these things are members of a biological orchestra controlled by the Sun
Einstein’s Theory of Relativity states that E=mc2. Energy and mass are the exact same thing, but for the light environment. Human’s are bundles of energy, but our energy takes shape as mass determined by the light environment we live in.
Has this changed your perspective of light in your daily life? I’d love to hear from you in the comments!