An Introduction to The Light Diet
by Matt Maruca
Founder and CEO at Ra
All life is matter animated by energy.
The energy that makes life “alive”, flows from the environment.
The primary source of this energy for life on earth is sunlight.
Because certain functions are only possible under the power of sunlight, all living organisms have evolved internal clocks to account for the presence and absence of the sun.
These clocks are known as “circadian rhythms”. Circadian comes from the Latin words circa meaning “approximately” and dies meaning “a day”, because in every organism studied, scientists found that these cycles follow the rhythm of almost exactly 24 hours.
It makes sense that an organism whose existence is dependent upon certain predictable factors in its external environment would develop internal mechanisms to account for the presence or absence of these factors, and that those organisms who could reliably predict the conditions of the outer environment would be far more suited for survival than those who could not.
Therefore, these internal cycles that run almost exactly the length of one day, twenty-four hours, are called “circadian rhythms”.
Virtually every single process in biology follows a circadian rhythm, or is directly affected by one. For example, our sleep and wake cycle is defined by a circadian rhythm. Most people sleep for several hours at night, and wake up when sunlight is present. This is one of the most important processes controlled by circadian rhythms, because it is the very basis of our existence as human beings. Unlike certain bacteria or plants, who can thrive in one location for their entire lives, our existence, along with most animals, is predicated on actually getting up, becoming conscious, and obtaining the resources needed for our survival from the external environment.
Sunlight actually powers the function of our cells. In order for our cellular engines, called mitochondria, to transfer energy from food into useful biological energy, they need to be active and awake. This activity is powered by sunlight. This is why the digestion of a healthy person is most active around late-morning/mid-day. This is known with modern science, and has also been known in ancient traditions like Traditional Chinese Medicine and Ayurveda. If we eat a massive meal in the middle of the night, close to bed, or first thing upon waking, our body is not nearly as well-equipped to process it as in the middle of the day.
The vast majority of studied hormones and neurotransmitters, which are the chemical messengers that direct the function of the brain and the body, follow circadian rhythms. Their production and secretion rises and falls generally once per day. For example: secretion of the stress hormone cortisol is typically highest in the morning, naturally, as part of waking our body up. The secretion of melatonin, which is responsible for putting us to sleep and then repairing all of our cells and cellular engines, begins rising after sunset, and reaches a peak between 1 and 4 am.
Every single function in the body is affected by our sleep/wake cycle, energy availability in the system, and/or another facet of circadian biology.
Now, it’s important to understand what begins to occur when we disrupt our circadian rhythm.
As you can see, circadian rhythms are essential for life, including human beings, to function properly.
There are three ways in which circadian rhythms are most often disrupted in our modern world. These are:
If you experience any of the above factors at the “wrong” time of day, it will cause a real disruption in your circadian rhythm, which you can feel immediately, if you are conscious of it.
If you are exposed to man-made light after the sun sets, especially modern sources such as screen devices and LED lights, it will cause the brain to think that the sun is still present, so the brain will begin to produce more of the hormones and neurotransmitters responsible for wakefulness, and it will disrupt the production of melatonin.
Similarly, if you eat a big meal late in the evening, your body will have to direct a significant amount of energy to the digestive processes, taking away from vital biological and cellular repair.
If you become very stressed late in the day, whether from a physical trauma, a chemical toxin, or, most commonly, a psycho-emotional thought or reaction to something, your brain and body will increase its activity (which can be measured as brain waves by EEG) and produce more of the stress hormone cortisol. When the body produces more cortisol, it produces less melatonin, as it is not biologically favorable to go to sleep when under threat.
So, any of these factors will disrupt one’s ability to relax naturally in the evening, which is a large part of why so many people today require prescription sleeping pills, drugs, and alcohol to relax and “take the edge off” in the evening. Darkness, by itself (or, more specifically, the absence of high-energy blue light that stimulates the brain) actually takes the edge off, naturally.
With this disruption, you will have a harder time falling asleep. If you make it to sleep, you will have a harder time staying asleep. You will likely be restless and wake up throughout the night. Depending on the person, instead of waking up early feeling energized, you will likely wake up later, still feeling fatigued, and have less energy, a lowered mood, and decreased mental function and clarity throughout the day.
This is the real result of circadian rhythm disruption. The toll of not feeling well and not thinking well is more costly than one can easily calculate. It means precious life is squandered by a lowered experience of the world, due to disrupting the body’s effective function.
Over time, in addition to not feeling well nor thinking optimally, this circadian rhythm disruption, and resultant sleep disruption can cause the development of degenerative diseases related to poor mitochondrial function. These include poor eyesight, headaches, allergies and autoimmune conditions, chronic fatigue, diabetes, obesity, heart disease, and cancer.
This is because sleep, driven by melatonin, within the context of a healthy circadian rhythm, is when we repair our cells for optimal health. More specifically, during sleep we repair our mitochondria (recall: cellular engines).
It has been shown that the majority of modern chronic illnesses are not caused by defects in the genes we inherit from our parents, but by defects in energy production in our mitochondria. Because chronic circadian rhythm disruption prevents the natural repair of these mitochondria, it directly leads to these health conditions.
Circadian disruption is the single most overlooked factor responsible for the epidemic of modern chronic illnesses we are experiencing in the developed world today.
At Ra Optics, we have created a very simple protocol called The Light Diet™ for people to be able to improve their circadian rhythms, naturally. The core pieces of The Light Diet are as follows:
Watch the sun rise
Go out and watch the sun rising for at least 10 to 15 minutes, every day, as close to sunrise as possible. More is great. Remove sunglasses, eyeglasses, and contact lenses.
Aim to go barefoot on the earth to experience the heavily studied benefits of grounding/earthing whenever you are taking in sunlight.
- For added benefit, on a clear day you can look directly into the sun-disc, but only for the first 10 to 15 minutes of the sun rising from a clean horizon. If the sun rises over mountains, trees, or other taller objects, as opposed to a clear horizon, the angle will be too high and unsafe to observe directly.
- This number (10 to 15 minutes) varies depending on your location and time of year as the sun can either rise directly up from the horizon, so UV will appear sooner, making sungazing unsafe, or it can rise at varying angles, meaning UV will appear later.
Eat with the sun
Eat a medium-sized breakfast, lunch as your heaviest meal between 11am and 1pm, and a lighter dinner, ideally before 5pm in winter, and before 7pm in summer.
Get mid-day sunlight and sunbathe amply
Aim to go outdoors at least once every hours for 5 to 10 minutes, or ever 2 hours for 15 to 20 minutes. Aim for at least 2 hours per day of unfiltered daylight exposure on your eyes, without sunglasses, glasses, or contact lenses.
Practice safe sunbathing around mid-day (between 10am and 2pm) at least once daily for 5 to 15 minutes on each side of the body. If pale or prone to burning, start exposure slowly starting with 1 to 2 minutes per day and increasing by 1 to 2 minutes per day. Do not burn; if you do, take a few days off to heal, and start back up with less exposure.
Watch the sun set
As with sunrise, aim to watch the sunset or late afternoon sun for at least 10 to 15 minutes every day. More is great.
- As with sunrise, you can look directly into the sun-disc for the last 10-15 before sunset. Do not do this practice unless you have a clear horizon.
Sleep with the sun
Aim to begin winding down with sunset and go to sleep within 2 to 3 hours of sunset, and/or before 10pm at least 5 nights per week.
Block harmful man-made light, day and night
Wear Ra Optics Daylight Lenses whenever you must be indoors under fluorescent or LED lights (in an office, a hospital, a store, and/or at school), especially if for extended periods of time (more than 20 to 30 minutes).
Wear Ra Optics Sunset Lenses any time you are exposed to man-made light sources after sunset, until sleep (excluding fire light and purely red and/or orange light sources).
Cultivate your inner light
Practice meditation daily in order to become familiar with subconscious thoughts and emotions that throw your body and mind out of balance into stress. (We recommend starting with Dr. Joe Dispenza due to his intense focus on scientific research and data—drjoedispenza.com)
The best time to practice meditation is first thing in the morning, ideally before watching the sunrise. After sunrise is second-best. If you follow The Light Diet correctly, especially getting sunlight at the right times, avoiding/filtering man-made light, and not eating a lot of food late in the day, you should begin to wake up naturally before sunrise.
By following The Light Diet, you will be able to avoid the negative effects of chronic circadian disruption. Most people will literally feel like they are living in a new life because their body will be in balance in a way that it hasn’t been for decades.
Some things you will likely notice:
Relaxing naturally in the evening, without alcohol or other substances
Falling asleep more easily
Sleeping more deeply and through the night
Waking up earlier in the morning, with more energy
Having more energy and a better mood throughout your day
Noticing a naturally positive disposition in your thoughts and in your life
Increased ability to handle previously stressful situations and overcome challenges
Feeling amazing with energy (especially after sunbathing!)
Reduction or elimination of physical pain
Improvement or elimination of chronic health conditions
Heightened “intuition” and sense of your environment
Natural flow of great ideas
Increased focus and productivity at work and in business
One of the best qualities of The Light Diet is that it costs very little to improve health by improving your circadian rhythms. It only requires a genuine desire for you to have better health and to make the change that is necessary to experience a change in your life.
Ra Optics Blue Light Protection Eyewear are the simplest and easiest tool that you can use to make The Light Diet easy in your life. As you begin to see results, and you want to consider changing the lighting in your home, you can do that. At Ra, we are currently developing the most advanced, circadian-friendly lighting solutions in the world.
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Thank you for reading! We are truly grateful to be a part of your health journey.
Founder and CEO
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