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Thursday, 5 March 2015

The Health Benefits of Fresh Air and Sunlight

As a very small boy growing up, going to school and playing around with friends and siblings, a lot of things actually went on without anybody paying close attention. I recall now as I look back when my mom or dad would ask me to take out the towel or the mattress into the sun, or for it to receive fresh air. I also recall many years back in the village, when my grandmother would harvest fresh vegetables and keep the extra on the thatched roof top of huts and barns for the fresh air and night dew to keep them company till the following day. The result was always that the open air kept the vegetables and fruits fresh.

Fresh air and Sunshine can mean the world to you

Take out the mattresses

But try wrapping up your fresh vegetables in a nylon bag for a few hours and see what happens to them. Something interesting seems to be going on here; obviously your vegetables or fruits will quickly start to go bad because bacteria will easily find their way and also actively do their duty of speeding up the decay process. 

Even today as people still do, but seldom recognise the need to carry out these practices, I begin to realise even more as I observe, the benefits of taking out the mattress to have fresh air and sunlight beat on it. The point is that scientists have discovered that most of the microbes that cause infectious sicknesses and diseases are not able to survive sunshine and even fresh air most of the time. Thus sunlight acts sometimes as natural disinfectant - working against pathogens and germs that hang around in the air. 

Natural disinfectants

To ascertain these points, British researchers carried out an experiment to find out how long airborne pathogens would last in the air when exposed to fresh air: At the end of the day, E-coli microorganisms that were exposed to the open air at night (because it was already established that they would die off when exposed to sunshine) died off after about two hours. Yet when the same was placed in a closed box under the same temperature and humidity, in similar location, were able to survive even beyond the two hours period.

There is therefore a clear evidence of the fact that sunshine and fresh air play a lot of role in both the elimination and prevention of germ growth. Little wonder victims of deadly infectious diseases such as Tuberculosis are usually people who are predominantly caught in crowded and congested environments.

Sunshine comes with an natural Vitamin D

It is for these same reasons that more than two centuries ago, Dr. John Lettsom (1744-1815) prescribed sea air and sunshine for child victims of tuberculosis (TB). And no wonder it is also proven by medical research that field and open air workers like farmers, animal ranchers, etc, are the least likely to contract tuberculosis as compared to their counterparts who work indoors or spend most of their times in enclosed environments. The latter are undoubtedly more prone to these types of infections.

What more lessons are there for us?
Simply let in the fresh air and sunshine into the house. The fan is not enough; it will only circulate used air most of the time especially if the room is not well equipped with enough windows for ventilation. Also, cross ventilation is very important in our living environments whereby if the air is not moving in one direction, you may be lucky to have another window catching it from the other direction, etc. There ought to be allowance also to enable used air escape from the room so that you do not go on inhaling stale air.

Sunshine Vitamin and Oxygen

Moreover, you as a person stand to gain so much from these two elements of nature by exposing yourself more to them. Vitamin D is called the sunshine vitamin because it enables your system to build up this important nutrient. Vitamin D will enable your body absorb calcium and adequately make use of it to build and maintain strong bones and teeth. 

On the other hand natural or fresh air is equipped with a full package of oxygen which keeps your respiratory tract and heart in tip top condition. Your body is able to produce haemoglobin in the presence of quality oxygen hence – oxygenated blood. Inhaling quality air (oxygen) elevates your spirit and makes you happier therefore, by affecting the amount of serotonin in your brain; it makes you lighter and calms your nerves while improving your heart rate, and lowering your blood pressure. Conversely too, it is confirmed that not having the adequate amount of fresh air or oxygen will easily lead to lack of staying power, nausea, dizziness, and even depression.

Fresh air & Sunshine your natural antibiotics

Open your windows and doors, go out

It is also important to know that your air-conditioner is not even enough, be it in the car office or home. A lot of used air still gets in the way even when you are using your air-conditioner. Fresh air and sunlight remain the best forms of refreshing yourself. Have you not noticed at times that in the midst of your air-conditioned room, you see mould growing; this you will not find if the room was to be properly ventilated with rarefied or natural fresh air, and some sunlight seeping in?

So go ahead, open up the windows and leave your doors open more often. Better still, take a walk – just go out and enjoy the free gifts of nature in fresh air, aroma of the flora, bird songs, and sunshine; it will do you a world of good. It is best though to expose your skin to sunshine without the use of sunscreen, but do this in moderation and more frequently as Vitamin D can only last for about 60 days in your body.

It would be great if you let me know what you think about all of this right here. What are your own interesting experiences?

By Morgan Nwanguma

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