From as early as the 4th century B.C. Hippocrates, the father of modern medicine recommended the sea as an important natural source of healing. The sea’s many naturally healthy properties were used in thalassotherapy and hydrotherapy to actively treat diseases of the body and mind as well as maintain good health and longevity.
Centuries later, as anyone who has the chance to spend a day or two, or even an hour by the sea, can tell you – Hippocrates was right. Here are my reasons why I think a daily dose of the ocean is the key to a wonderful life. (I recently took a mini-break and got away to the beach in Mozambique – it was perfect.)
The Sea Is A Naturally Great Stress Reliever.
Did you know that seawater contains the same eighty four vital elements found also in the human body? I have often thought that this remarkable fact might explain why we always feel so connected and so calm when we are by the sea. A few of these elements that we share with ocean, such as magnesium, lithium and bromine are exceptional calming elements. They stabilize and maintain proper serotonin, melatonin and tryptamine levels in the brain.
Magnesium in the sea water which can efficiently help reduce stress, relax muscles and nerves, and induce a state of calmness. Lithium is, of course, used to treat many psychological problems.
When you add a good dose of sunshine into the mix, you’ll get a shot of serotonin almost immediately. Serotonin released into your body is a key hormone for relaxation and happiness. Combined with the sound, smell and visual beauty of the sea you will have no choice, but to relax.
I don’t know about you, but I won’t say no to all of that!
The Sea Can Boost Your Immune System.
As the sea contains many vitamins, mineral salts, trace elements and amino acids that help activate the body’s healing mechanism, you will get a natural boost to your immune system.
Sea air and mist are full of negatively charged hydrogen ions, which are powerful antioxidants . And then there’s iodine. Our bodies really do need iodine to function optimally. The iodine in sea water supports the immune system and boosts your thyroid activity.
For many centuries the sea has been used to improve blood circulation.
And as a natural antiseptic, it also enables our body’s to fight infections and kill parasites, bacteria and fungus.
And even if you’re sick, sea water can provide relief from the symptoms of cold and flu. I’m not suggesting you leave your sick bed to go swimming in a cold sea, but if you feel a cold coming on, rinsing your sinuses out with salt water will help. Today there are natural decongestant products on the shelves that use salt from sea water, to help loosen mucus and treat pulmonary problems.
You Always Sleep Better By The Sea.
I’m sure you will agree with me, that somehow it seems easier to sleep at the sea. Perhaps it has to do with the gentle rhythms of the waves, or the fact our bodies are made up of mostly of water. The sea helps relieve high stress and anxiety levels, lack of physical fatigue, and hormonal imbalances, all of which inhibit sleep.
Don’t underestimate the influence of the sun on lowering stress levels and helping to regulate hormones. All of which make it far easier to get a peaceful and deep sleep.
You’ll Get More Vitamin D.
Which is really important. Vitamin D is one of the most essential vitamins in our diets; however very little of it is actually absorbed through the consumption of foods. And as we age, it’s increasingly more difficult to absorb enough on a daily basis.
Spending time in the sun, as little as just ten minutes a day helps you to absorb your daily dose of vitamin D directly through your skin.
According to the Harvard Medical School, the most natural and substantial source of the vitamin depends on how much UVB light gets through to you. That light reacts with a cholesterol-related compound and metabolizes into vitamin D, which is essential for bone health, creates healthy skin and may even help improve mental health.
I know the sun’s role in both health-promoting vitamin D and the risk of sun damage that can lead to skin cancer may seem conflicting. However, since sunscreens block the vital UVB rays needed for vitamin D production within the body, most dermatologists will advocate “responsible sun exposure.”
That means we should have about 10 to 15 minutes of unprotected sun exposure, after which protection in the form of a sunblock with 30 SPF or higher (along with additional preemptive measures) is essential for the skin’s long term health.
You’ll Find It Easier to Exercise … And Lose Weight.
Simply being on a beach involves some form of activity. You’ll be naturally compelled to get moving. You’ll have to go for a swim at some point, even to just cool off. And a leisurely swim can burn as much as 200 calories. Surfing? Just over 100. Playing an active beach game is about the same. Or you can just walk the beach.
And to that point, walking on a beach is actually more difficult and utilizes more muscles than moving on a pavement. In fact some studies have shown that walking on the beach, barefoot is already a better workout than walking on concrete, “walking on sand requires 1.6-2.5 times more mechanical work than does walking on a hard surface at the same speed.”
Speaking of which. Have you ever wondered why it feels so good to walk on sand? That’s because there are somewhere between 3,000 and 7,000 nerve endings in each foot that are stimulated when you walk on beach sand. Your feet love it! Wet sand also acts as a natural exfoliant and peels off dead skin cells from your feet leaving them renewed and much softer.
It’s Good For Your Skin
Spas all over the world use sea salt in their beauty and massage treatments. The salt contained in the sea water helps remove toxins from the skin and acts as a natural exfoliator. It removes dead cells and encourages the production of the new ones.
The magnesium found in sea water improves its hydration, as well as an overall improved appearance.
One of the most important sea water health benefits lies in its ability to heal damaged and irritated skin. Sea water is known to reduce inflammation and help cure many skin disorders such as atopic dermatitis, rosacea, psoriasis and eczema.
It’s antiseptic properties are useful in healing minor wounds, cuts, rashes and abrasions – salt and potassium chloride seem to be mostly responsible for these beneficial, mending effects
As we grow older, our skin, as well as a whole lot of other body parts, unfortunately loses its tightness and suppleness. The ocean is full of anti-aging minerals that can help improve the elasticity in your skin. So treating your body to a little bit of saltwater every now and then may not produce miracles, but it will certainly help keep your skin a little bit tighter and healthier.
Helps Reduce Inflammation And Pain
Being active in water, along with the mineral values in the water has been known to help people suffering from joint pain. Especially those suffering from arthritis, or have recently had surgery. This is because the water offers a great deal of resistance without any impact at all and actually reduces the weight of a person submerged in water by around ninety percent.
The minerals in the ocean are also known to help reduce symptoms for those with rheumatoid arthritis. According to a study, patients who used bath salts made from Dead Sea minerals also experienced fewer symptoms, like morning stiffness and trouble with hand gripping.
Re-Connect With Your Spirit
Reconnecting with your spirit is about finding an inner peace within yourself. By getting in touch with your feelings, your spirit and consciousness you will be happier. When you’re by the sea, it’s a wonderful time for self-reflection.
This can be helped along by practicing a bit of meditation or yoga on the beach.
There are few other places in nature once can truly feel at one with the earth and ourselves. A short walk (on the beach, or anywhere else) is known to decrease stress and help you reset.
And when it comes to feeling truly at peace, it means we’re happier and healthier.
Happiness is that often elusive feeling we all seek. I mean who doesn’t want to be happier? The sea is certainly my happy place.
It’s no surprise that people are more likely to be happier in the warmer months and less so in the grey and colder months. It’s been scientifically proven that sunshine can make us happier. A study conducted by the Baker Heart Research Institute in Melbourne, Australia found that the amount of sunlight participants’ received directly affected their mood. The team also noticed that with increased sunlight exposure, their levels of serotonin increased, having a positive effect on factors such as stress, sleep and appetite.
And Perhaps Most Importantly, The Beach Will Help You To Disconnect.
Neurologist Dr Tara Swart says we have to find ways to disconnect to ensure better brain health. We need to let go of the tablets and smartphones and allow ourselves to be a technology-free if we’re going to be able to think better, more creatively and operate more effectively at work and home.
She’s not alone. According to a study from the University of Gothenburg in Sweden, staying constantly plugged in has been associated with stress, loss of sleep and depression. A study conducted by the University of Exeter took it a step further and found that simply living near the beach can also be beneficial to your health and well-being.
The ocean is a great place to disconnect. There are no phone or laptop chargers in sight and the sand and water will damage your devices… so you actually have no choice but to leave them behind.
Need more convincing? Simply follow the doctor’s orders and “Go to the sea to heal.” – Hippocrates