Table of Contents – Sun, Exercise, Reduced Sugar Intake Lowers All Cause Mortality


Is it possible for a diet low in carbohydrates and sugar, coupled with ample sunlight exposure and regular exercise, to effectively reduce susceptibility to, curb the spread of, and influence the course of diseases? The affirmative answer to this question is supported by an extensive body of research. I will provide a fundamental overview to facilitate a deeper understanding of this topic, inviting those interested to explore the intricate interplay between lifestyle choices and their impact on immune function and overall health while reducing the risk of all cause mortality.

Overconsumption of Carbs and Sugars

The overconsumption of refined carbohydrates and dietary sugars can contribute to immune suppression, increased nutrient demand, and infection virulence.

The increased demand and compromised physiologic utilization of vitamin D and C during highly refined carbohydrate and sugar and disease states compromise a person’s chances and ability to respond to viral and microbial infections. The elderly, overweight people and people with comorbidities are the most vulnerable and need increased sunlight, exercise, and a severe decrease in refined carbohydrates and sugars. Interestingly, nutritional supplementation does not make up for a lack of the above-mentioned lifestyle interventions.

It has long been known that an increased refined carbohydrate and sugar intake increases the risk of infectious diseases, cardiovascular disease, all-cause, cardiovascular and cancer mortality: A systematic review and meta-analysis. It is also known that an increased refined carbohydrate and sugar intake increases the vitamin and mineral needs of the body, especially vitamin D, magnesium, vitamin C, and B complex vitamins… 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, and 7.

With vitamin C, there is a glucose-ascorbate antagonism due to the structural similarities between the vitamin C and glucose molecules. Even in the presence of adequate blood levels of vitamin C, it is not utilized correctly by high blood sugar levels (hyperglycemia) because it’s a competitive antagonist. The higher the blood glucose, the lower the vitamin C available to the cells. Our immune system depends on our immune cells accumulating high levels of vitamin C. High blood glucose will inhibit this and, consequently, suppress our ability to fight infection and viral replication.

Vitamin D exists in both biologically inactive and active forms, with the conversion catalyzed by the enzyme 1-alpha-hydroxylase, primarily in the kidneys. Even a minor increase in fructose levels in the kidneys blocks this enzyme, preventing the conversion of inactive to active vitamin D. This fundamentally affects the physiological function of vitamin D. Fruit consumption, especially those high in fructose, significantly hinders or halts the conversion of vitamin D to its active form, necessitating a reevaluation of the physiological effects of fruit consumption.

It is also known that the excessive consumption of refined carbohydrates and sugars significantly contributes to susceptibility to viral infections, decreased response to treatment, latent viral reactivation, and increased viral replication 8, 9, 10, 11.

Hyperglycemia and Viral Replication

Low Vitamin D Status

Low vitamin D status, a surrogate for lack of sunlight exposure, has been linked to an increased risk for all-cause mortality.

Optimization of vitamin D levels in children and adults around the world has potential benefits to improve skeletal health and to reduce the risk of chronic diseases, including some types of cancer, autoimmune diseases, infectious diseases, type 2 diabetes mellitus, and severe cardiovascular disorders such as atherothrombosis, neurocognitive disorders, and mortality.12, 13

Sunlight Exposure and Microbiome

Exposure to sunlight (UVB) can boost the diversity and abundance of the microbiome as well as vitamin D levels.

The recent worldwide rise in idiopathic immune and inflammatory diseases such as multiple sclerosis (MS) and inflammatory bowel diseases (IBD) has been linked to Western society-based changes in lifestyle and environment. These include decreased exposure to sunlight/UVB light and subsequent impairment in the production of vitamin D, as well as dysbiotic changes in the makeup of the gut microbiome. 14

Vitamin D Deficiency and Disease

All Cause Mortality Goes Down with Exercise

People who work out at a moderate to vigorous level between 5-10 hours per week  (moderate physical activity is defined as walking at a 3 MPH pace and weightlifting. While vigorous exercise is categorized as running a mile in 10 minutes (6.0 mph), bicycling, or swimming). 15

Those who worked out two to four times above the moderate physical activity recommendations—about 5 to 10 hours each week—saw the most benefit.

Participants who performed two to four times above the recommended amount of moderate physical activity had a 26% to 31% lower risk of all-cause mortality and a 28% to 38% lower risk of cardiovascular disease mortality. In addition, there was an observed 25% to 27% lower risk of non-cardiovascular disease mortality (cancer, neurodegenerative disease, etc.).

Adults who worked out two to four times more than the recommended amount of vigorous physical activity—about 2.5 hours to 5 hours minutes per week—were found to have a 21% to 23% lower risk of all-cause mortality. They were also reported to have a 27% to 33% lower risk of cardiovascular disease mortality and a 19% lower risk of non-cardiovascular disease mortality.

The sweet spot is “any combination of medium to high levels” of vigorous (cardio, HIIT) 1.25 hours to 5 hours per week and moderate physical activity (weight lifting/strength training) 2.5 hours to 10 hours per week “can provide nearly the maximum mortality reduction,” which is about 35% to 42%.

Key Exercise Guidelines

Adults should move more and sit less throughout the day. Some physical activity is better than none. Adults who sit less and do any amount of moderate-to-vigorous physical activity gain some health benefits.

For substantial health benefits, adults should do at least 150 minutes (2 hours and 30 minutes) to 300 minutes (5 hours) a week of moderate-intensity or 75 minutes (1 hour and 15 minutes) to 150 minutes (2 hours and 30 minutes) a week of vigorous-intensity aerobic physical activity, or an equivalent combination of moderate- and vigorous-intensity aerobic activity. Preferably, aerobic activity should be spread throughout the week.

Additional health benefits are gained by engaging in physical activity beyond the equivalent of 300 minutes (5 hours) of moderate-intensity physical activity a week.

Adults should also do muscle-strengthening activities of moderate or greater intensity that involve all major muscle groups on two or more days a week, as these activities provide additional health benefits. 16

Mechanisms of Protection

Exercise plays a pivotal role in regulating this circadian rhythm. Recent studies indicate the circulating leukocyte count in mouse models peaks during the inactive phase. In contrast, white blood cell counts in other tissues (such as skeletal muscle and heart) peak during the active phase. At the same time, atherosclerotic lesions are associated with various immune cells and factors, such as the proliferation of macrophages, which are crucial for CVD progression. On the other hand, exercise can also decelerate the aging process. Exercise impacts various aging-related phenotypes, such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s. Recent studies have shown that physical activity ameliorates suppression of SIRT3 by deacetylating and exerting a positive influence on SIRT3 expression to maintain metabolic homeostasis and redox balance, which prevent physiological dysfunctions and offer a myriad of anti-aging benefits. This study further proved that the protection of physical activity trajectory patterns against mortality and incident cardiovascular diseases was mediated by aging deceleration and inflammation regulation. 17


In conclusion, the amalgamation of a low-carbohydrate and sugar diet, ample sunlight exposure, and regular exercise has been shown to play a pivotal role in mitigating the susceptibility, spread, and progression of infectious diseases and, more importantly, reduce the risk of all cause mortality, as supported by extensive research. This holistic approach not only underscores the significance of lifestyle choices in bolstering immune function but also serves as a foundation for further exploration into the intricate connections between nutrition, sunlight, physical activity, and overall health. Delving deeper into this topic can unveil a wealth of insights, empowering individuals to make informed decisions that contribute to a resilient and proactive approach in the face of infectious threats.