Health,  Living the Life

Caring for the Caregiver, Bringing the Beach Home

Summer’s warm gentle hands are starting to fold as autumn creeps in around the edges. A few brown leaves crunch underfoot. Dandelions turn fluffy and smoke from a wood-burning stove (or is that a BBQ?) fills the air.

The warmest season of the year is coming to an end, and so are treasured trips to the beach.

After just one day there, I feel energized, happier, healthier. There are many reasons to love ocean beaches.  Here are just a few of them:

It’s the water…

Whether I only put my feet in or take a running flop, the cold numbing seawater also feels healing and fresh.

It turns out that ocean water is much like some of the fluid that surrounds our cells, called interstitial fluid (source). Both are rich in sodium and chloride, which makes it non-irritating and soothing to our respiratory system. In this way, seawater helps relieve allergies.

Sodium has antiseptic attributes, so wounds heal faster in the ocean! Chloride helps with nerve function. Also, the magnesium in the water reduces eczema and helps our skin hold onto moisture longer.

It’s the air…

Because water and air mix together so easily at the beach, we actually breathe in all those super-charged, nutrient-rich water-droplets. 

There’s also a high concentration of negative ions found in beach air. Negative ions happen when air molecules break apart. Sunlight and waves naturally slice them. So do rainstorms and waterfalls!

Studies say that airborne negative ions remove pollution including fine particles like soot that harm our health. They also remove certain bacteria, viruses, and mold. Breathing ocean air gives us a break from highly polluted areas.

Also, having an abundance of negative ions around you has a positive effect on brain function and mood by regulating serotonin. Serotonin is a popular neurotransmitter responsible for feelings of well-being and happiness.  It also has been shown to decrease symptoms of depression and of Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD).

It’s the light…

The generous bath of sunlight the beach offers on a clear day naturally sparks the brain into making serotonin. While the sun helps you make this feel-good chemical, negative ions in the air help you regulate it!

Also, the ultraviolet sun rays cause our bodies to produce vitamin D. Depending on skin color and location, it could take anywhere from 15 minutes to more than an hour in full sunlight to get your daily dose of vitamin D.

Having enough Vitamin D is needed to fight viruses, bacterial infections, and maintain respiratory health. Evidence suggests there’s a link between vitamin D and cancer risk in mice. They found that increased levels of vitamin D slows or completely prevents cancer cell and tumor growth. It also helps the body kill off malignant cells (source)

News to me: UV rays from the sun help regulate our white blood cells. It helps prevent our immune system from attacking itself in the form of lupus, multiple sclerosis, asthma, IBS, and type 1 diabetes. 
Plus the sand…

My senses love the crunch-crunch of it. It’s not everyone’s favorite, but that feeling of sand under my feet has a comforting way of reminding me of where I am in the moment. 

BOOM–Instant Beach Resort in the midst of winter, the pandemic, and chilly Boston.*

I’m 50 minutes away from a beautiful ocean beach on a straight run, without traffic, speeding. It takes extra effort, determination, and polar bear genes to make the trip in the freezing cold. So I pulled some things together for a possible home beach situation:

*All of these items can currently be found on the web. A list of where to find them will be added shortly.

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Additional References:
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2873555/

https://www.wellness.com/blog/13295843/the-benefits-of-ocean-air/wellness-editor

https://gracefullyagingtips.com/sunshine-good-for-health/

https://www.cancer.gov/about-cancer/causes-prevention/risk/diet/vitamin-d-fact-sheet#what-is-the-evidence-that-vitamin-d-can-help-reduce-the-risk-of-cancer-in-people

https://www.lifehacker.com.au/2015/02/why-sunshine-is-good-for-you-its-more-than-vitamin-d/

https://study.com/academy/lesson/interstitial-fluid-definition-pressure-composition.html

Photo Credits: Sergio Sousa for Unsplash, Marcus Spiske for Unsplash

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