How getting sunlight may improve gut health

The amount of sunlight you get may impact gut health, according to a new study published in Frontiers in Microbiology.

Researchers in Canada recruited 21 healthy women to see how their gut microbiome would react when exposed to ultraviolet (UV) light. The study was held between February and April, when participants would naturally get very little sun.

Of the study’s 21 participants, nine were taking vitamin D supplements in varying doses while the remaining 12 had average vitamin D levels which researchers considered insufficient. After repeated exposure to narrow-band ultraviolet B light, participants not taking supplements not only increased their vitamin D levels, but also significantly boosted bacterial diversity in their gut microbiomes.

Did it improve gut function?

This is the first study to demonstrate an overt link between the intestine’s microbiome composition and the skin’s exposure to UV light, indicating the possible existence of what researchers call a “skin-gut axis,” leading to potential new therapy options. Further research would be necessary but the study is an important first step in determining how sunlight may play a role in gastrointestinal balance.