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Learning about Natural Health and Remedies, living close to nature and spending time outside camping, or roughing-it, or doing other nature activities, has significant and wide-ranging health benefits, according to new extensive research, which we will discuss here. We all intrinsically think that nature must be good for our health and happiness. A recent analysis of a large-scale nature challenge scientifically shows how important feeling part of nature is to our physical and mental health.
A large-scale study published in PLOS/ONE journal of 18,500 participants in doing something “wild” in nature for 30 days, resulted in the number of people reporting their health as “excellent” increased by 30 percent after the 30 days and this improvement in health being predicted by the increase in happiness, this relationship is mediated by the change in connection to nature. It adds to a growing body of evidence that shows definitively that we need nature for our health and wellbeing.
To get a better feel for how enjoyable, challenging, and beneficial camping can be, read this previous article “Tips In Camping.” A new report by the National Institutes Of Health (NIH)reveals that exposure to nature and green space reduces the risk of many serious health conditions, including type II diabetes, cardiovascular disease, premature death, preterm birth, stress, high blood pressure, and mental and emotional issues. Another recent 2018 University of East Anglia study found that exposure to green spaces is provided significant and wide-ranging health benefits.
Here is a quote from the Dalai Lama on maintain a calm mind which says it all:
Calm mind brings inner strength and self-confidence, so that’s very important for good health.
Re-Centering, Being Mindful, and Meditating
Our lives are busier than ever with a career, or school, and family life, in our 24-7 technological-driven, fast-paced world. Trying to focus on many activities, or even a single activity, for long periods of time can drain you physically and mentally.
According to another NIH study, spending time in nature, looking at plants, water, nature’s creatures, and other aspects of nature, gives the cognitive portion of our brain a break, allowing us to re-center and focus better, and renew our ability to be patient and appreciative.
In addition to stress relief, which we’ll cover shortly, you can achieve peace of mind when you spend time in the outdoors because it allows you to escape the responsibilities of your daily life. Although you have to be just as responsible in nature, but on a somewhat different and less demanding level. Nature provides you with a mindful and meditative experience that you won’t soon forget.
By being mindful, you can clear your mind and focus on what you’re experiencing in the current time, at the current moment, which has tremendous health benefits. There are no worries about the past or any concern for the future because you are living in the presence moment, and according to the NIH, living in the moment improves health.
It’s important to experience peace of mind as much as possible, because it helps to bring you back to a place of clarity and calmness. You’ll find this will help with your mood, as well as your ability to relax and actually achieve uninterrupted sleep at night.
As human beings, we’re wired for wonder, we feel compelled to stop and soak up the sunset (1), or gaze up at the stars, or look at a majestic Bald Eagle soaring, like we related in “Tips In Camping” article, and there’s no better place to do that than being out in the wilderness, camping or roughing-it. Research, such as the Association For Psychological Association, even suggests that awe-inspiring moments can make us happier, alter perception, enhance well being, and even enhance creativity. A PLOS/ONE study also found that immersions in natural settings improved creativity reasoning.
Reduces Stress and Improves Physical Health
While we breathe in fresh air, we breathe in phytonutrients, or phytoncides, airborne chemicals that plants give off to protect themselves from insects and parasites. Phytoncides have antibacterial and anti-fungal qualities which help plants fight disease. When you breathe in these chemicals, your bodies respond by increasing the number and activity of a type of white blood cell called natural killer cells. These cells kill tumor and virus-infected cells in our bodies, according to an NIH review, stating that phytoncide exposure and decreased stress hormone levels may partially contribute to increased “natural killer-cell activity.
In one Japanese study, increased natural-killer activity from a 3-day, 2-night forest-planned trip lasted for more than 30 days. Japanese researchers are currently exploring whether exposure to forests can help prevent certain kinds of cancer. The NIH reviewed the Japanese study and agreed with the finding and said…
Considering the significance of quality of life in our modern stressful society, the importance of nature therapy will further increase. The therapeutic effects of natural stimulation suggest a simple, accessible, and cost-effective method to improve the quality of life and health of modern people.
The Japanese have also studied that both physical activity in nature, and simply sitting looking at trees, which is called “forest bathing“, reduces the stress-related hormones cortisol and adrenaline. One of the health benefits of trees is a natural de-stressing system that can put you at ease and help lower your blood pressure naturally.
Trees and plants release oxygen (negative ions). The more oxygen you breathe in, the more you release serotonin, which makes you feel happy and content. According to an NIH study negative air ionization was associated with lower depression scores particularly at the highest exposure level. Future research is needed to evaluate the biological plausibility of this association. Healthy negative ions also come from the ground (earth)and particularly healthy for reducing inflammation, according to an NIH study. So, make sure run around “barefooted” sometimes on the ground, called “grounding” to soak-up these ions.
Being in the great outdoors roughing-it, can decrease symptoms of depression, PTSD, and anxiety by up to 71%, which is quite amazing. Vitamin D is also linked to mental illness, particularly depression. According to this NIH study, there is a strong presence of vitamin D deficiency in those who suffer from depression. So the more time you spend outside, the more you could help ease these types of symptoms. The stress relief and open air is vital to your mental health because it helps to make you feel stronger, happier, and more relaxed.
In addition, when you breathe in more oxygen, your body experiences less strain and wear-and-tear. Looking at pictures of trees has a similar, but less dramatic effect. Studies examining the same activities in urban unplanted areas showed no reduction of stress-related effects though. Using the Profile of Mood States test, as described by Wikipedia, researchers found that forest-going trips significantly decreased the score results for anxiety, depression, anger, confusion, and fatigue. And because stress inhibits the immune system, according to the American Psychological Association (APA), the stress-reduction benefits of forests and the great outdoors are further magnified.
Healthier and More Effective Exercise
Physical activity, as already mentioned, by itself tends to improve your mood, and we usually intuitively understand this to be true. With dopamine and endorphins flowing freely when we move our bodies, this positive feedback is often a sought-after reason for chasing down a good workout or hike. Who doesn’t feel good after some good physical activity? And, there’s a tremendous amount of research that supports it, like a NIH study. Quoting the study:
Physical activity outdoors, like when you’re camping, makes you feel better than the same physical activity performed indoors. The experts tend to agree, the title of this NIH study pretty much says it all, “The Great Outdoors: How A Green Exercise Environment Can Benefit All”.
You might think that this requires you to spend a very long time outside or that you have to go on an epic journey through the woods and up over mountain passes to feel the awe and wonder than beautiful Mother Nature has to offer. But actually, this effect can be seen quickly, and even in short amounts of physical activity outdoors, such as the short hike up to the waterfall, related in the previous article, resulting in a wonderful time and more positive feelings.
Physical activity outdoors reduces your rate of perceived exertion. This means, as an example, compared to how you’d feel the over-exertion on a treadmill, but walking the same amount at a brisk pace outdoors may feel less strenuous. A study by the NIH addressed this phenomenon and found that exercise may feel easier when performed in the natural environment. When allowed to self-select walking speed, participants tend actually to walk faster outdoors, compared to indoors. Paradoxically, they report a lower rating of perceived exertion. Your perception of physical activity and exertion indoors is always higher, and you very likely feel that because you’re bored and not having much fun.
However, out in nature you have to consider the “awe” factor. Yes, according to research, like this NIH study, nature brings a sense of awe to humans which is healthy. Isn’t that something? It’s not surprising though, when you think about it, nature always has incredible multiple things going on at the same time all around you that keeps you interested and engaged, and very likely, distracted from the physical act of exercising or physical activity. Occasionally, the sole purpose of physical activity is to enjoy yourself and for fun, and it’s hard to enjoy what you’re doing when it feels like the activity you’re attempting is too hard to continue doing, or too boring!
So, take your fun physical activities outdoors hiking, camping, or roughing-it, and the natural environment is likely to not only transform you and make it feel much less difficult, but improve your well being, as well, according to this Science Daily review.
exercising in natural environments was associated with greater feelings of revitalization, increased energy and positive engagement, together with decreases in tension, confusion, anger and depression.
By taking some of your physical activity outdoors, you will not only improve your physical activity enjoyment, but also the willingness to continue those activities over and over again. It’s more likely to make you participate more often, because it makes you more happy. This is quite a strong and positive and fulfilling feedback! A trail run or hike is different from running or walking on a sidewalk or footpath, just as cycling on the road is obviously different from mountain biking. It’s difficult to just go through the motions only when you’re moving outside on a trail, because it’s about nature and it’s wonders and much more interesting.
If you were zoned out while running on a sidewalk, not having to think about where you place your foot, you’re not going to be able to enjoy what you’re doing because you’re barely even aware of what you’re doing.
Moving on a trail stops you from mindlessly exercising and increases the likelihood that you’ll observe your surroundings in more detail, because you are much more attentive. It also keeps your brain alert, improving cognition, or even fight anxiety or depression, because you have to be mindful and up to the challenge and ready for what nature will throw at you! Walking through the woods is a great idea, whether the scenery is constantly changing or it’s just a change from your urban habitat. The benefits of being outside all day in the sunshine mean that you get more natural vitamin D from the sun’s rays, too. More on that shortly.
Sun, Air Quality and Sleep Benefits
One important principles of Natural Health and Remedies is to be careful about spending too much time in the direct sunlight. The sun is at its hottest from 9am to 3pm, but being exposed to the less intense sunlight outside of those hours will give you the vitamin D your body needs. Studies have shown that sleeping outdoors can also reset your biological clock, because your body becomes in tune with natural light-dark patterns.
Electric light or blue light off of technical devices can delay or alter your natural circadian clock research shows. One Harvard Medical School review found that we may be paying a price for basking in all that artificial light. At night, light throws the body’s biological clock, the circadian rhythm, out of whack. Sleep suffers. Worse, research shows that it may contribute to the causation of cancer, diabetes, heart disease, and obesity. But, when you’re exposed to natural light cycles, your circadian clock
adjusts and synchronizes to the sunrise and sunset, as nature meant it to be. For those of us who aren’t biologists, that means that our body syncs up with the sunrise and the sunset. It helps us to get back to a healthy pattern of going to sleep and waking up at decent times to get the most out of our day and to make it productive. The woods can do wonders for your Zzzzzz’s. According to a 2013 study on sleep patterns by the University of Colorado Boulder, the more you abide by the Sun’s schedule, the more likely you are to get sleepy and go to bed earlier, and wake up at a reasonable and earlier time.
Researchers examined campers for a week and found that sleeping away from artificial light helped reset their circadian rhythems and made them more physically and mentally alert. As depicted in the previous article, when you and your better-half sleep outside under the stars, next to the cozy, warm campfire,(2) in your double down sleeping bag and inflatable pad, and fall asleep early and wake up early the next morning, remember you two are getting the most beneficial, restful, healthy and restorative sleep possible.
Challenges and Problem Solving Benefits
Another one of nature’s natural health cures, and particularly when you’re camping, is it is always challenging you with problem solving situations, which is good for the health of your brain, and increasing your intelligence. Whether it’s maneuvering your canoe around
a rock, or figuring out how to set up your brand new tent, or crossing a stream on a log used as a bridge, or, as related in the “Tips In Camping” article, diving into a beautiful pool of cold, deep blue, crystal-clear water, there are always challenges and unexpected situations you have to handle. It keeps your mind sharp because the challenges or problems or situations are never the same, and according to this Harvard Health, study, really good for our brain health. You never get bored in nature because what occurs in nature is not ever the same! That simply means Nature keeps you and your brain “on your toes”, so to speak.
There is no opportunity for your brain to become accustomed to one situation or another, or get bored, and it’s always has to be alert and working to figure things out in new ways all along the way. When you’re camping or roughing-it, you have to be always ready for those challenges and the unexpected, which will come.
One example of this is out in nature you certainly don’t have time to think about your troubles, or practice ruminations which are repetitive thoughts that focus on negative emotions. According to a Harvard Medical School study, those who did a 90-minute nature walk had lower activity in the prefrontal cortex, a brain region that is active during rumination.
Divorcing From Technology
Seriously, this is probably the most underrated perk of camping, so it’s a point worth driving home. Sometimes you just need to shut off cyberspace and connect to some green space. Research shows that constantly checking your phone could be a sign of mental health problems. According to a NIH study, too much screen time may be burning you out and it’s important to power down sometimes and divorce yourself from all forms of technology.
It’s not easy to turn away from this kind of stimuli because we are all wired to connect and be social. According to a Pew Survey, the vast majority of Americans, or 88 percent between the ages of 18 and 29, use Facebook, and almost 60 percent of that age group have Instagram accounts, too. The numbers aren’t much lower for people between age 30 and 49, 84 percent and 33 percent, respectively.
However, some research is showing that the use of technology and social networking on the internet particularly by adolescents, is linked to later increases in attention, behavior and self-regulation problems in the form of lying and fighting, for example, for adolescents already at risk for mental health issues, according to a Duke University study, published in Child Development. Another 2017 study published in the Journal of Preventive Medicine found that participants who are online most frequently, which is defined as 50 or more visits a week, have three times the odds of perceived anxiety and social isolation as those who went online less than nine times a week. Wouldn’t you think that feeling socially isolated would be unfulfilling?
The connection that often comes from technology is not only unfulfilling, it’s a false version of an actual connection, a siren call, or buzz, or blinking light, that begins to crowd out the time you have for real connection, with real people and more importantly, nature.
Even worse, technology begins to rewire our brains to make us less adept at real connection. Want some examples? We are now hard-wired to assume our phones are ringing, even when they’re not, according to a published in the journal Computers and Human Behavior, researchers found that 89 percent of 290 undergraduates surveyed reported feeling “phantom vibrations,” the physical sensation that their phone was vibrating, even when it wasn’t, once every two weeks.
Studies have shown overuse of technology affects our memory and attention span, as well. A neuroscientist polled 3,000 individuals and found that the younger respondents were less likely to remember standard personal information, such as a relative’s birthday or even their own phone number. Camping or roughing-it, gives you the opportunity to re-establish that real connection away from your iPhone.
You’re able to think away from a screen full of distractions so you can return to reality with a clear mind, and that alone is priceless and irreplaceable. If you remember in our previous article, “Tips In Camping”, you had willingly turned your cell phone off, and weren’t concerned what time it was, because it really didn’t matter.
Appetite and Eating Healthy
Turns out there are also terrific reasons to head outdoors when you prepare and eat a meal. When you are stressed, you are not paying attention to what you’re eating, and you are not going to enjoy it as much, and you are not going to digest your food as well, that’s just a physiological fact. According to much research, like this Harvard Medical School study, due to stress affecting the “gut-brain” axis or connection (NIH), a troubled intestine can send signals to the brain, and a just as a troubled brain can send signals to the gut.
Therefore, a person’s stomach or intestinal distress can be the cause or the product of anxiety, stress, or depression, besides physical symptoms like stomach ache, diarrhea, etc. Simply being in nature relieves the stress associated with poor digestion. Luckily, foods always taste better outdoors, too, especially after you’ve developed an appetite from the day’s physical activities out in nature, and you are starving! Something else to consider according to one study by the NIH, is that the combination of aroma and taste such as what you get when cooking on an open fire or grill, and is common out in nature, induces greater satiation and short-term satiety and is directly related to increased appetite and being hungry.
So being mentally present when you eat, helps you better notice how pleasurable it is to really enjoy food. In other words, a simple act of mindfulness ends up highlighting something enjoyable. Research shows, like an NIH study, that practicing “mindfulness eating” such as the official Mindfulness-Based Eating Awareness Training program (EB-EAT) developed for people with eating disorders, is beneficial and documented studies confirmed substantive improvement in how people relate to their eating, including individuals with both binge eating disorder (BED) and subclinical eating issues.
And, here’s the best part, you don’t need the EB-EAT program, just get out in nature and you’ll experience mindfulness naturally! Yes, that’s right, naturally. A major beneficial physiological response in humans in spending time in nature is a state of mindfulness that is achieved. That mindfulness brings balance to our emotion regulation system as well as the nervous system’s control over bodily functions and organs, including the heart.
This suggests that nature can contribute to fostering two different dimensions of happiness, both joy and “calm”, according to Springer Link study. Calm means no stress and better digestion and a greater enjoyment of eating. In addition, if you are inclined to hunt, or fish a little, while you’re on your camping trip, just enough for your own consumption and you’re successful, you will be cooking and eating the best nature can offer health and nutrition-wise, and being in a mindful state, it’s going to taste better than a “5-star” restaurant meal.
Wild game foods in nature are fresh and lean, high in protein, nutrient-dense, organic, or non-chemically-enhanced, hormone-free fish, such as Rainbow trout, as you caught in the mountain lake, related in the previous article, or animals like deer. Or freshly-cleaned lean meats, such as wild, naturally-nurtured, and nature-fed birds, like quail, or, even rabbit. And take our word for it, it will taste like a “million bucks especially cooked outdoors on an open-fire!” Research such as this Penn State articles confirms that eating wild game is beneficial to your health. Quoting Dr. J Lynne Brown in the study,
“Game meat tends to have the same amount of cholesterol as beef or pork, but considerably less fat than domestic meat.
That is conventionally raised meats are fatter than wild game because they’re fed grains. However, natural-raised grass-fed (beef) or free-range (poultry) meats which we recommend, are lean and healthy just like wild game, per an NIH study. A stove, a tent, a campfire, and a sunset, or sunrise, is the healthy formula for appreciating simple food in an uncomplicated environment. Mediocre wine is excellent if you have a beautiful view. Coffee or espresso is exponentially more delicious when brewed early, after a night in a tent, and a good healthy trail mix can compete with the fanciest hors d’oeuvre when you’re in the middle of a hike. It’s really simple, food always tastes better outdoors. There is a certain formula to food when you’re camping, too. Keep it simple, but not to simple.
If you prefer not to hunt or fish that’s fine. There’s still a great option. You don’t leave good food when you leave the house to get out in nature, such as the fresh, organic grass-fed brown eggs, you scrambled for breakfast, or the fresh veggies out of your garden you brought to make a salad, as related in the previous article, you carry it with you in your ice-down Yeti cooler, and it should be a routine and ritual dedicated to appreciating good food always, wherever you are.
There is an undeniable connection between good food and being outside that not only gives you time to appreciate nature, but makes food taste so much better in the process. So, don’t forget to pack enough lean grass-fed New York Strips and Alaskan Sockeye Salmon filets in the cooler, for grilling on an open-fire. Or dig out a healthy apple and peanut butter from your backpack on a hike and it will most certainly taste better than it does when you’re in front of your computer in need of an afternoon snack.
Don’t Leave Your Peruvian Maca At Home Either
Another principle in Natural Health and Remedies is supplementing with the whole-food, nutrient-dense, Super Food Peruvian Maca. P Maca has become popular due to the many wide-ranging benefits, which include increased energy levels, vitality and endurance, healthy sexual function and libido, reduced anxiety and stress, healthy brain function, and balancing healthy hormone levels to help relieve, as an example, symptoms of menopause such as hot flashes. Not only do you experience increased energy levels with P Maca, but also enhanced stamina, which comes in handy on camping and roughing-it adventures.
It also alleviates fatigue and exhaustion that you may be experiencing, and the reason you decided to go on the camping trip in the first place, because you had to get out in the woods to mellow-out. Don’t leave home on your camping trip without your jug of blueberry smoothies with P Maca either, by making sure it’s packed in the Yetti cooler, so, you can have sustained energy for the entire time you are camping.
Balancing hormones with Peruvian Maca eliminates irregularities associated with a weakened immune system, poor circulation, which leads to anemia and poor wound healing, and poor memory and learning. P Maca also improves skin health and reduces signs of aging, and improves bone and teeth health. P Maca is a whole-food and a rich source of calcium and potassium, in addition to trace elements of iron, iodine, copper, manganese, zinc, selenium, magnesium as well as 19 essential amino acids.
P Maca is also rich in phytonutrients, or phytocides, chemicals for the control of inflammation and harmful invasion of viruses, infections, and even cancers, as we discussed earlier, that add to its long list of confirmed health benefits. So actually, by ordering Mighty Maca Plus here now, and spending time in Mother Nature, you are getting double protection from these harmful invasions!
Best Nutrient-Dense Foods Nature Can Offer
So let’s us regain control and start once again actually using our common sense, like our forefathers did. It seems of late that there have been a lot of discoveries of new “super foods” such as cruciferous vegetables like broccoli, or P Maca. Or, may be we should say, rediscovered.
In actuality these foods have always been “super”, and always been there and been available, like Peruvian Maca, the only thing that is different is now we have research to prove that nature is packed full of nutritious and healing foods, besides all the other health benefits we’ve outlined here.
Cultures around the world for thousands of years have known that their locally grown natural foods offer up much more than just a tasty dinner. The best example of this is the natural nutrient-dense foods eaten by all the various cultures surrounding the Mediterranean Sea for hundreds and hundreds of years, or what’s commonly referred to as the “Mediterranean Diet”, and it is now considered as one healthiest nutrient-dense food diets in the entire world. In fact, the Mediterranean diet was chosen by the U.S. News and World Report as the number 1 diet this year 2019.
But, it wasn’t until recent globalization that we could all be so lucky as to have access to such a wonderful array of healthy foods such as the Mediterranean Diet from every corner of the planet. And, guess what foods we recommend? Here are the Best fresh organic non-GMO Nutrient-Dense Foods Nature Can Offer or the Mediterranean diet:
Lean grass-fed finished meats such as beef and bison, free-range pork, lamb, and free-range poultry including chicken, turkey and duck, cold-water, or wild-caught fish and seafood, fresh organic fruits, fresh organic vegetables, grass-fed diary butter and cheese, and organic whole-grains and complex carbs, organic raw nuts and seeds, grass-fed (cage-free) organic eggs, natural fermented foods , yogurt , kimchi; natural herbs and spices in a wide variety, healthy antioxidant drinks such as varieties of coffee , and green teas , Espresso (moderately); and for fun and dessert dark chocolate (not milk chocolate).
So, now that you learned about Natural Health and Remedies and all of the tremendous health benefits that can be derived, by visiting nature often, either by camping, or other activities, absolutely as much as you can, are you going to do it? We are very interested in your comments, and any questions you may have.
We leave you with quote by Joseph Campbell:
The goal of life is to make your heartbeat match the beat of the universe, to match your nature with Nature.
(1) Redin Videography
(2) Virtual Fireplace Video
Here are 2 related articles on the benefits of camping in nature you might enjoy reading:
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