There is something magical and magnificent about the ocean, isn't there? Whenever I’m struggling for inspiration, or I feel depleted, I make a point to go the coast for at least a few hours. It doesn’t matter if it’s hot or cold out… so long as I’m dressed appropriately, I feel rejuvenated.
Of course, my favorite place to regenerate is Hawaii, where the seas are warm enough for a long, luxurious bath. I am seldom tired after swimming and cavorting in the ocean. I don’t feel drained and dehydrated the way I do after swimming in a chlorinated pool. Instead, I feel refreshed and somehow pampered by nature.
Doctors have prescribed seawater therapy, or thalassotherapy, for millennia. In the days before antibiotics, ibuprofen, and Xanax, everyone knew that spending time seaside could have a beneficial effect on everything from “consumption” — AKA tuberculosis — to asthma to arthritis to anxiety. Because of these benefits, and because people are becoming more aware of the adverse effects of pharmaceuticals, thalassotherapy is making a comeback, with oceanic resorts popping up worldwide. Several clinical trials are now in the works evaluating their specific benefits.
Why the ocean makes us feel better
The primary reason we feel better “bathing” in the sea is because the water contains nutrients that are directly beneficial to our bodies, such as minerals, salts, and amino acids (the building blocks of protein). Serendipitously, the ocean contains the same minerals and salts that are found in our blood, namely sodium, chloride, sulfur (as sulfate), magnesium, calcium, and potassium, except in much higher concentrations. The ocean also contains iodine, an essential trace mineral that nourishes our glands such as the thyroid and salivary glands.
Because of the ocean’s higher concentration of minerals, when we soak in the sea, our bodies absorb the minerals through a process called “osmosis”. Even better, the ocean minerals are in ionic form, meaning they are positively or negatively charged, and much easier for our bodies to absorb and put to work. And when we absorb these minerals, our bodies are better equipped to get rid of some of the toxins that might cause disease or damage our DNA.
The good news is, we also absorb these minerals through our lungs simply by breathing in the sea air. Likewise, sea air —because of the mist coming off of the water — also has more oxygen in it. And the warmer the water, the more oxygen it contains.
This is part of the reason why swimming in the sea doesn’t tire us out as much as a chlorinated pool, and why even if the water is too cold for more than dunking our toes, we still reap the benefits of the ocean.
Minerals are crucial to our health and well-being and play a major role in our immune system, bone health, mental health, energy levels, ability to sleep, digestion, and so on. I talk more about some of the health benefits of minerals in my online nutrition class, Understanding 5 Easy and Fun Steps to Healthier Eating, as well as in previous blogs.
If Hawaii isn’t in your budget
If a trip to a tropical paradise isn’t in your current budget, or if you live far from the coast, don’t despair. There are natural ways to nourish your body through skin care, whole food supplements, and delicious foods.
- Nourish your body on the outside with skin care that contains beneficial antioxidants to help prevent and reverse DNA damage, such as Pangea skin care. If I had to choose two products to take the bad out and put the good back in, it would be the Japanese Matcha Tea with Acai & Goji Berry Facial Mask and Himalayan Geranium & Pomegranate Balancing Oil.
- Keep your good minerals in, and get the toxins out. There’s a reason I recommend Touchstone Essential's Pure Body zeolite so frequently! Unless you live on the coast or in countryside not yet damaged by fracking, chances are you are taking in damaging chemicals that tax your body and drain your supply of beneficial minerals.
- Eat lots of mineral rich foods such as bone broth and sea vegetables like kelp. You can even put a strip of kombu seaweed into the water when cooking your bone broth.
- Because of soil erosion and unsustainable farming practices, our soils for growing foods do not contain the beneficial minerals they once did, so the plants that grow in the soil have lower mineral contents. This is why I often recommend supplements made from whole foods in addition to healing diets. Some of my go-to’s include Standard Process’ Cataplex F, Min-tran, Organically Bound Minerals and Trace Minerals B12 as well as Coral Legend and Polar Mins from Premier Research Labs. Be sure to work with a holistic health practitioner to determine which formulation is right for you.
- Spend a few extra pennies on Celtic or Himalayan sea salt. Refined table salt contains only sodium and chloride, creating an unnatural mineral imbalance in the foods we eat.
- Reduce your sugar intake. Digesting sugar robs our bodies of minerals that are supposed to be keeping us healthy because we have to use them up to break down the sugar instead.
In part 2 of this blog, we’ll be giving you even more reasons why you deserve a Hawaiian vacation when we look at some of the problems associated with chlorinated water and swimming pools. As always, we’ll give you the simple, natural solutions you need to overcome them.