‘Let the sunshine in’: Natural light eliminates germs that cause the common cold

October 22, 2018

Baby, it’s getting cold outside—and, predictably enough, people around you are starting to catch colds and spread them. However, there’s one easy way to avoid getting sick—and many people don’t know about it: Open the blinds and let the sunshine in.

In a study published October 18 in the journal, Microbiome, lead author Ashkaan Fahimpour of the Biology and the Built Environment Center at the University of Oregon-Eugene and his fellow researchers found that dust particles carrying bacteria thrive in dark spaces.

If you can open the blinds or shades and illuminate your living space or workspace with some natural light, your odds of catching cold will be much lower, because bacteria lurk in the shadows. And your mood also may improve.

The researchers found that the health benefits of sunshine aren’t enjoyed by plants, alone. In fact, after 90 days of letting experimentally planted dust settle in 11 climate-controlled rooms (designed by the scientists to mimic real-life living and workspaces) 12% of the bacteria in  the dimly lit rooms still were alive and able to reproduce. By comparison, only 6.8% of the germs survived in broad daylight. Coincidence? The study authors think not.

Indeed, in an interview this week with Elite Daily, physician consultant and Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan providerDr. Gina Lynem-Walker, commented that the study’s findings were spot-on. She explained that the ultraviolet (UV) rays in sunlight are just as harmful to single-cell bacteria as they are to human skin—and in this case, that’s a good thing.

“Studies have suggested that exposure to UV light can disrupt the molecular bonds of the genetic material and proteins in microbes,” Dr. Lynem-Walker told Elite Daily, adding, “By staying out of direct sunlight, bacteria reduce their exposure to this radiation, thereby increasing their chances of survival and allowing for higher reproduction rates.”

So bring outside lighting into your interior life for a healthier and stronger season.

Research contact: ashkaan.fahimipour@gmail.com

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