(NaturalNews) Do you suffer from a "nature deficiency?" If you'd like most people in modern society, you spend most of your 24 hours of the day indoors. You work under artificial fluorescent lights, you eat and sleep inside a house or apartment, you commute in the artificial environment of a car, bus or train. You rarely get outside and even when you do, it's not real nature -- it's some artificial "planned" park with concrete sidewalks and maintained lawns.
I suspect you may have a nature deficiency. I know because I've been there. Probably much like you, I spent a lot of time outdoors as a child, but in my adult years, I found myself spending more and more hours indoors. It didn't take long to realize that breathing re-circulated indoor air and having little or no time in nature wasn't a good recipe for lifelong health.
Today, I'm a nature advocate. Time in nature is healing all by itself, and children are especially vulnerable to the negative effects of a nature deficiency. But few people in the field of conventional medicine embrace the idea that nature itself a healer, so the message of spending time in nature to improve your health doesn't get much attention.
However, I believe that not spending enough time in nature promotes depression, obesity and even cancer. In fact, I believe that nature is so important to lasting health that I took up permanent residency in a country where I have spring-like weather year-round, just so that I can be outside in nature every single day of the year!
That's not possible to do in most places, but wherever you are, more time in nature can help you heal. Here's how:
How spending time in nature helps you heal
Sunlight supports all life on our planet. Without sunlight, we would simply have no life on Earth. Your body is designed to be exposed to sensible levels of sunlight, and that's why experiencing a reasonable amount of sunlight directly on your skin makes good sense for your health.
As you well know, sunlight also causes your skin to generate vitamin D -- perhaps the most miraculous nutrient yet discovered in the modern world. Vitamin D prevents cancer, heart disease and diabetes. It boosts bone density and immune function, and it prevents infectious disease far better than vaccines could ever hope to.
To get more vitamin D, simply spend more time in nature!
• Natural sounds
The natural sounds of nature are, in and of themselves, healing therapy. Simply surrounding yourself with the sounds of real nature causes a scientifically-provable reduction in stress levels and blood pressure.
The most powerful healing sounds in nature seem to be those from water: Waterfalls, water running down a creek or stream, rain and thunderstorms, etc. You can mimic these sounds with "sound conditioning" devices that broadcast sound loops of natural sounds. They're very effective machines, but still nothing equals the healing potential of real sounds experienced directly in the real world.
The colors of nature are, scientifically speaking, different wavelengths of light striking your retina and being interpreted as colors by your brain.
These different wavelengths are, in essence, a form of energy medicine. Light is energy, and what your body needs to be healthy is exposure to a diverse assortment of those energy wavelengths. That's why looking at all the various colors of flowers, plants and animals is, by itself, a healing experience. It also stimulates the brain to become more active and more intelligent.
Spending more time in nature allows your brain to explore a more diverse natural reality, causing it to function at a higher cognitive level. Dull people, in contrast, tend to spend a lot of time indoors where the scenery never changes.
Being in nature makes physical movement almost mandatory. When you're in nature, you're often walking, running, biking or swimming. And yet because the scenery is so beautiful, it doesn't feel like exercise! It simply feels like fun!
The health benefits of all this movement are tremendous: A boost in circulation, increased bone density and muscle strength, increased flexibility, lymph fluid circulation and much more. And yet being in nature allows you to experience all these benefits without it feeling like hard work.
There's something qualitatively different about fresh air versus indoor air. Indoor air is contaminated with chemicals that have been off-gassed from all the synthetic materials used in the construction of homes and buildings: Carpets, furniture, paints, glues, dyes and so on. Plus, you often get mold spores from indoor air ducts.
The air in a living pine tree forest (or any forest) is refreshingly different! Some people attribute it to the "negative ions" in the air, but there's much more to it than that. There's something almost magical about fresh air in a natural environment -- it's "sweet" and energizing! The more time you can spend in nature, the more fresh air you can take into your lungs and enjoy as a healing experience.
It's an innate thing to desire "fresh air." Every person on the planet intuitively knows that fresh air is better than indoor air. Ever wonder why this knowledge is so deeply imbedded in the human brain?
Western medicine believes that sterility is safety. They want people to live in a sterile environment, where all the microbes in your environment (or on your food) are killed by antimicrobial soaps and pharmaceutical drugs.
But certain microbes are very important for your health! Exposure to microbes in the real world is hugely important for the healthy balance and functioning of your immune system, and the best place to have exposure to these microbes is out in nature!
When I was a kid growing up, I played in the dirt. I swam in the pond. I camped out on the grass. Today, many parents would be horrified to allow their children to even touch dirt or swim in the "non-sanitized" water of a natural stream. This obsession with sterility is deeply misguided. Seek out nature and don't be afraid to experience the real world even if it means getting your hands dirty.
• Bio energy
Beyond the light, the sounds, the air and all the other healing elements of nature, there's also something less tangible: The bio energy of living systems. In some way that scientists still don't understand, lush living ecosystems "recharge" the human body and mind. Spending time in nature rejuvenates your system, and when city life leaves you feeling depleted, nature can bring your energy back.
Part of the magic of the bio-energy in nature depends on coming into physical contact with nature. Walk barefoot. Hug a tree. Touch a flower. Lie down on the grass. Touch nature as your body intended and you'll create a closed circuit with the planet itself. Some people say that being electrically "grounded" with the earth (through barefoot walking) makes an important difference in reducing the electric "noise" that interferes with your health. There's merit to this thinking. Your ancient ancestors didn't walk around in Nike shoes. They walked barefoot, and they were healthier for it!
Kids suffer from nature deficiency, too!
Most modern children live their lives indoors, banging away on gaming consoles and social networking websites. Few children are offered opportunities to spend any real time outdoors, in nature. The idea of "going to camp" during the summer seems to have been lost on the current generation of children, most of whom spend their summers in air-conditioned environments that are highly detrimental to their health.
One of the greatest gifts you can offer any child is time in nature. And the earlier you start teaching children about the joys of nature, the more success you'll have in sharing outdoor experiences with them. Plus, introducing your children (or grandchildren) to more time in nature means that you get more time in nature, too.
One way to encourage time in nature, by the way, is to get rid of the TV. Television is the enemy of the natural world, and the more time children (or adults) spend in front of the TV, the less time they tend to spend in nature. Once children spend enough time in front of the TV, they won't even want to venture into nature at all. Their whole "world" becomes the virtual world broadcast into their brains from the television set.
For teenage boys, time in nature has largely been replaced with time spent playing computer games and console games. While there's nothing wrong with a little time spent gaming, when this act becomes the dominant focus of a child's life, it is hugely destructive. What these children need is more time in the real world and a lot less time in virtual worlds.
Seriously: I've often thought that somebody should launch a "nature camp" business that would offer rehab services for teenage boys who are addicted to gaming. It would be a hugely successful business given how widespread modern gaming addiction has become.
In any case, whether you have kids or not, spending more time in nature will vastly improve your health! So make it a point to get outside, soak up some sunshine, breathe in the fresh air and get all the nature you can! You'll be healthier, happier, more fit and even more intelligent for doing so!
Previous articles in this 15-day "Heal Yourself" series
In addition to his lab work, Adams is also the (non-paid) executive director of the non-profit Consumer Wellness Center (CWC), an organization that redirects 100% of its donations receipts to grant programs that teach children and women how to grow their own food or vastly improve their nutrition. Click here to see some of the CWC success stories.
With a background in science and software technology, Adams is the original founder of the email newsletter technology company known as Arial Software. Using his technical experience combined with his love for natural health, Adams developed and deployed the content management system currently driving NaturalNews.com. He also engineered the high-level statistical algorithms that power SCIENCE.naturalnews.com, a massive research resource now featuring over 10 million scientific studies.