Is Your Family Nature-Deficient?

Have you ever watched a toddler bang on a door or window, asking to go outside, or cry when carried indoors? Toddler instinct is alive and knows that being among the trees, grass, rocks, and water nourishes people in ways that nothing else will. It is a built-in wisdom that could help us adults improve the quality of our own lives.

Outdoor air is significantly healthier than that inside a building. Trees take in carbon dioxide and release oxygen. The number one toxin in the human body is carbon dioxide, a result of normal respiration. Since the lungs are one of the four main organs of elimination, breathing clean air is of great importance.

In addition, many studies show that spending time in sunlight enables our bodies to synthesize Vitamin D. Having adequate amounts of Vitamin D stimulates our immune system, protects cardiovascular functioning, and builds strong bones. Just 30 minutes of sunlight per day can provide us with all of the Vitamin D we need. Take a walk, and you build a stronger immune system — and get exercise.

Step away from your computer and go outside.
Electronic devices such as cell phones, computers, and TVs disrupt the normal flow of our nervous system. Using them within an hour of bedtime can prevent deep sleep because the brain is stimulated and still processing when it should be resting. It is important to spend some time away from electricity to allow the nervous system to slow down.

A study published in the journal Applied Psychology: Health and Well-Being, found that children who regularly play outdoors in areas with lots of trees and grass have milder symptoms of Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder. This study included more than 400 children with a formal diagnosis of ADHD.

The ideas of “earthing,” “forest bathing,” and “greening” are building awareness of how important it is to spend time in nature. Walking barefoot on the grass or sand, even for 10 minutes, can help calm anxiety. It grows our connection to the world and to ourselves. It is a way of grounding. And it allows our bodies to release some of the electronic energy we absorb from using our electronic devices all day long.

Take a bite out of nature.
The natural world also provides our food. Picking wild blueberries or other wild edibles is a great example of choosing food that is fresh, local, and seasonal. The berries’ deep blue color indicates that they are rich with antioxidants. Nutrients and energy are highest in fruit that is growing; they decrease during the transportation process that most of our food goes through before we actually eat it.

Although our world and society continue to change, our need for immersion in the great outdoors does not diminish. As we seek new treatments, techniques, and practitioners for answers to health care issues, we must remember how much potential healing awaits us in the mountains and woods of our own backyard.

—Dr. Colby

We are here to help.
Contact one of our doctors to learn more about the healing properties of nature and how you and your family can best take advantage of them.