Tips for a Healthy Summer: Part 2 | Chris Kresser

Tips for a Healthy Summer: Part 2

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In Part One of my Tips for a Healthy Summer, I discussed a few ways to improve your health using strategies naturally available during the summer season. Increasing your safe sun exposure, sipping on water kefir, and increasing your consumption of fresh, seasonal produce are all easy ways to boost your health and wellness over the summer while still appreciating everything that this great season has to offer.

In this second part, I’ll give you three more tips on how to maximize your ability to not only enjoy your summer to the fullest, but to help alleviate certain health problems that may have cropped up during the earlier part of the year. Whether you’re looking to reduce pain, sleep better, or enjoy your time outdoors more, these three tips will help you get the most health and wellbeing out of your summer season.

Try Grounding

Grounding, also known as earthing, is the practice of making direct physical contact with the surface of the earth in order to connect with the free electrons that are constantly generated. (1) This can be done by walking barefoot outside or sitting, working, or sleeping indoors connected to conductive systems that transfer the energy from the ground into the body. The negative potential derived from our contact with the earth’s surface is believed to stabilize our internal bioelectrical environment and promote optimal function, and also help regulate diurnal rhythms. (2)

This may seem a bit like science-fiction to some, but evidence has been mounting that our modern lifestyle has led us to be separated from this contact, leading to physical dysfunction and unwellness.

The benefits of grounding are mainly attributed to the reduction of chronic inflammation by neutralizing reactive oxygen species. Researchers have observed improved sleep, decreased inflammation, pain alleviation, stress reduction, and even the normalization of the cortisol day-night profile after subjects were exposed to grounding treatment. (3)

While there are special conductive systems designed to transfer energy from the ground into the body, the easiest and most inexpensive way to reap the benefits of earthing is to walk barefoot outside, lay out on the grass or the sand, or even sleep outside on the ground. The great part about summer is that doing any of these activities is easier than ever when the weather is warm and the environment is more inviting. Try ditching the shoes next time you’re out in your backyard, lay out at the beach, or plan a camping trip; there are many ways you can increase your contact with the earth’s surface this summer. Who knows, maybe you’ll find yourself sleeping better, feeling less pain, or experiencing an overall improved sense of wellness due to your stabilized internal bioelectrical current!

Get Into a Rhythm

Diurnal or circadian rhythms are physical, mental and behavioral changes that follow an approximately 24-hour cycle, responding to light and darkness in an organism’s environment. (4) All types of organisms are affected by these rhythms, including plants, animals, and even microbes. Humans are no exception, and it has been discovered circadian rhythms regulate many important physiological functions such as hormone release, sleep-wake cycles, immune function, mood regulation, and body temperature. (5)

Unfortunately, for much of the year, these natural diurnal rhythms are overridden by our constant exposure to artificial light. Instead of going to bed when the sun goes down, we force ourselves to stay awake well past the point of darkness, thanks to electricity and indoor lighting.

This can have many consequences on our health. Disruption of these rhythms in shift workers has been shown to increase the risk for cancer, obesity and type 2 diabetes. (6) Since immune function is affected by these cycles as well, there is an increased risk of autoimmune and infectious diseases when circadian rhythms are disturbed.

The good news is that light therapy has been shown to be effective in treating disruptions in circadian rhythms, and summer may be the best season to try it, considering the extended daylight hours. Paul Jaminet has written some great tips on how to improve your circadian rhythms, such as getting daytime sun exposure, sleeping in a totally darkened room, and eating during daylight hours so that food rhythms and light rhythms are in synch. With a few extra hours of sunlight during the summer months, you may find that living in synch with nature’s light and dark cycle is easier than ever.

Naturally Repel Bugs

One issue that many people may have with getting outside more to try grounding or circadian therapies is that they are prone to being “eaten alive” by insects. Mosquitos, ticks, and other creepy crawlies are far more active during the summer, and the thought of being covered in itchy bug bites may be enough to keep some people indoors for the summer.

Besides just the discomfort of being bitten, many insects carry dangerous diseases such as Lyme Disease, West Nile Virus, and Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever, among others. So it’s wise to avoid getting bitten as much as possible.

But how do you avoid bugs without dousing yourself in DEET? There are several natural insect repellents that work very well without the use of harmful neurotoxic chemicals. Mark Sisson has provided some great information in a blog post on natural bug repellents. He recommends those made from essential oils such as lemon eucalyptus, peppermint, and geraniol; these essential oils may even work more effectively than DEET, making them ideal choices for natural repellents. (7)

There are a few other essential oils that Mark recommends, but he also points out the common sense technique of wearing adequate clothing to act as a barrier against bugs. Wellness Mama has a few great recipes for homemade bug repellent using these effective essential oils; you can decide the level of protection you need and choose a recipe accordingly. By combining natural bug repellents with adequate clothing, you may be able to escape the summer free of bug bites without having to resort to harmful chemical use.

I hope you have found these tips useful, and that you will try to incorporate some of these ideas into your summer schedule. As I mentioned, summer is a great time to work on maximizing your health and wellness, and there are many natural, effective ways to do so.

Now I’d like to hear from you. Are there any tips that you plan to try out? If you’ve done any already, have you had success?

  1. How long do you have to be in contact with the ground/grass. Is there a certain amount of time required?

  2. “Beneath your feet is not just a mere patch of grass, dirt and sand or concrete. It is an ominpresent source of natural healing energy.” That is why you were feeling great after spending time outdoors, barefoot.
    I recently learned that the surface of the earth is constantly pulsating with negative-charged free electrons and that free radicals are positive-charged molecules at the core of inflammation. Go to http://www.Earthing.com or get the book Earthing by Clinton Ober and Stephen T. Sinatra, M.D.

    You will be amazed that healing is right under our feet.

  3. During the spring, I spent tons of time outside with my bare feet in the grass and the sun on my skin. I was feeling amazing. I had less pain, slept better at night, and had more energy than I have in a long time. My allergies are awful, but I was managing them well. This summer has been so incredibly hot, and the air is painfully dry, so I haven’t spent more than a few minutes outside each day for weeks. I’m feeling sluggish, the pain is creeping back in and I’m not sleeping well at all. Oh how I wish it would cool off so I can regain that feeling again!!!

  4. With regard to grounding, will you benefit by just standing barefoot for a couple minutes? I have read about this numerous times, but I have not seen information regarding how long it takes to receive benefits.

  5. Another great article. Thanks, Chris.

    Could you write about drinking water sometime? Tap vs purified, purification methods for those on a budget, etc. Thank you!

    • I would love to know Dr. Kresser’s opinion on drinking water too. I have been using a Berkefeld filter system for years and love it. (I don’t sell them so this is not a sales pitch!) And I have the additional filters that remove the flouride. The filtered water retains all the minerals, unlike reverse osmosis. There is a big debate between water with minerals and distilled.

      Many of my kids’ friends who visit “think” they don’t like water (because of the nasty stuff that comes out of the tap). It’s tragic. They are filling their bodies with soda, sports drinks and sugary juices instead. And when they do drink water, it’s out of a BPA-lined plastic bottle.

  6. To repel mosquitoes I’ve had great success with taking basil leaves and rubbing them on my legs (or wherever I’m trying to keep them from).

  7. without a study of people being “grounded” in a double blind experiment where they are not aware if they are being grounded, there is no possibility of separating the placebo effect and the fact that they don’t really mention this and just go on about “free electrons” is misleading and not at all based on any meaningful science.

    All the advantages they state “stabilize our internal bioelectrical environment and promote optimal function, and also help regulate diurnal rhythms” and “improved sleep, decreased inflammation, pain alleviation, stress reduction, and even the normalization of the cortisol day-night profile” are all things you can achieve from pretty much any pleasant placebo or stress relief exercise .

    correlation is not causation

    the title should really be:

    relaxation is good, one way to relax is lay in the grass on a nice day

    • Those bothered to actually read the text may notice that at least four cited studies are double-blind and randomized.

    • A fairly simple home experiment would be to wear an electronics static wrist band connected say to an Arduino microcontroller which simply switches the band to ground (or not) randomly before each nights sleep and silently stores that state. Upon waking, the person logs (via computer program) how things went. After thirty or sixty days, the data is displayed relating grounding to perceived effect. Such things as humidity might be included which may effect static charge. This is effectively double blind.

      People are frequently exposed to grounds. Metal cased appliances (like say your refrigerator), plumbing (when you touch a faucet or shower). It’s not like you go long periods of time slowly building large charges.

  8. Who knows whether Earthing works, but it certainly will not be due to “The negative potential derived from our contact with the earth’s surface is believed to stabilize our internal bioelectrical environment …”

    Electrical charges gather at the surface of a conductor. Remember touching a charged ball in science class and your hair starting to point in all directions? That is because the excess electrons repel each other and try to keep the distance between them as large as possible. They do so by gathering at the surface of a conduction body. Thus nothing will happen to our internal bioelectical environment. Already for this reason, those articles on Earthing should never have passed the review.

    • That argument is only valid when there is no shortage of electrons inside the body.

        • Of course saying that the electrons move to the inside is the same as saying that the electron holes (= missing electrons) move to the outside. It is one and the same process, just as an electrical current moving one way means the electrons are moving the other way.

          The outcome of earthing or grounding is not to give the body a negative charge, the outcome is to make the body electrically neutral because it is connected to the earth.

  9. I use a homemade salve for sunburn relief that has olive oil, bees wax, plantain, chickweed, comfrey, St. John’s Wort, etc. for pain and sensitivity. Don’t wear St. John’s Wort while out in the sun because it will give you a sunburn!

    I also love to use honey on sunburns. It really helps with the pain.

    Summer is also a great time to go wild crafting and to eat wild plants! Plantain (which can be normally found in your yard) is good for bug bites, but is also edible. Right now I’m finding dandelion, Queen Anne’s Lace, raspberries, nettles, and wild oregano.