Being barefooted and outside has many health benefits. My entire life, I have always gone barefooted as much as possible. It makes me feel good, and now that there is a growing body of research on grounding or earthing, I can justify my desired shoeless existence.
And yes, I find it comical that we have to have research to tell us to be barefooted.
Research on Grounding or Earthing
When we are barefooted on the beach, grass, or cement, our bodies absorb millions of free electrons (or negative ions) from the earth in the way nature intended. These negative ions then travel throughout the body, essentially neutralizing the free radicals in our tissues. This creates many positive physiologic changes, which I will outline below. But first let’s go to the beach!
Why We Feel Happier After a Week at the Beach
Think about the last beach vacation you took. Did it seem like the kids behaved better, they slept better, your spouse looked more attractive, and everything just seemed to flow more easily?
Well, consider what is happening while you are at the beach. Yes, it’s sunny, you can smell the warm sea air, hear the seagulls singing and the waves lulling you into a relaxes state…AND nobody wears their shoes.
The good news is, we can get all the health benefits we feel at the beach just by getting outside without our shoes.
The Top Five Health Benefits of Going Barefoot
1. To Detoxify Our System
Our bodies are filled with free radicals from the daily metabolism of our food, our environment, and many of the chemicals we come into contact with. These free radicals cause aging and do damage to our DNA, our cells and the various tissues of the body. The absorption of negative ions helps to counteract these free radicals and essentially detoxify the body.
2. Relaxes Our Nervous System
The influx of negative ions into our system also helps to shift our autonomic nervous system out of “fight or flight” mode and back into the more “relaxed” state. This ultimately creates a shift in blood flow back to the frontal part of our brain where we perform our executive functioning, thinking, doing schoolwork, and making decisions.
It also shifts the blood flow to our stomach, small intestine and colon. This increase in blood flow to our gastrointestinal system allows us to digest our food better, have regular bowel movements, and properly absorb nutrients from the healthy foods we are eating. This is also the reason it is important to relax while eating.
3. Improves Heart Health
It improves what we call our heart rate variability. This is the ability of the electrical system of our heart to react to things around us. It is a measurement of the time interval between heartbeats. The greater our heart rate variability, the better is our heart health. People who worry regularly and often have lower heart rate variability.
4. Improves Blood Flow
Absorbing negative ions also helps to keep the blood thin. This allows the blood to flow easily through our vessels and helps prevent things like strokes, heart disease, diabetes, cancers, and many neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s disease.
5. Reduces Anxiety Sleep Troubles
I have many patients who I see that experience anxiety regularly and have trouble sleeping. One of my first prescriptions for them is to get outside and walk around barefooted daily for 15-30 minutes. I have taken patients outside and run around barefooted with them if they are really having trouble calming down.
It Only Takes Two Seconds to Feel Better
The best news is that it only takes two seconds with your bare feet on the earth to see measurable changes in the body. So that’s why getting our children (and ourselves) outside and walking around barefooted solves many more issues than just a break from having the kids underfoot (pun intended).
Can you be outside & barefooted more often? Some days I drive straight from my office to a place where I can walk around safely barefooted. I am sure everyone I pass thinks I’m nuts, but it’s better than a glass of wine in the way it calms me down and helps me to re-group after a busy day!
I often recommend my patients take a few barefooted laps around their yard where they can walk easily without stepping on anything suspect so they can absorb their daily dose of negative ions!
Tell me about your experiences of barefootedness & well being!
Please share with me any stories or anecdotes you can think of when you or your family members experienced this transfer of millions of negative ions from the earth to your feet and felt that sense of wellbeing and vitality I’ve described.
For more information on grounding/earthing go to: http://earthinginstitute.net
Read the book! Earthing: The most important health discovery ever? by Clinton Ober, Stephen T Sinatra, MD, and Martin Zucker