Do You Suffer From Nature Deficiency?

By Stephen T. Sinatra, M.D., F.A.C.C., F.A.C.N., C.N.S., C.B.T.

As a doctor, one of the things I always keep my eyes open for are what I call “unintended consequences”—unexpected problems that arise from adopting new things. I used to see it a lot with prescription drugs. Sure, they fixed one problem…but in the process, they created two or three more!

Sadly, this dynamic is something I’m seeing more and more in our technology-driven world. Despite all of our scientific and medical advances, we’re sicker than ever.

I believe this is happening because our reliance on technology—be it electricity, industrial food production, or wifi—is progressively disconnecting us from nature. However, I also believe that we can correct many common health problems simply by adopting the kind of high-vibrational lifestyle that gets us back in touch with the innate rhythms and energies of the body.

Not convinced?

Let’s take a little test. I’d even be willing to bet that you already have at least one sign of a “nature deficiency”…

Sign #1: You Have Trouble Sleeping

If you toss and turn all night, a circadian rhythm disorder may be to blame.

The circadian rhythm is your body’s “internal clock,” and it’s tied to light and darkness. When the brain senses darkness, it tells the body to produce the sleep hormone melatonin. When it senses light, it tells the body to produce the hormone cortisol, to wake us up. But when the rhythm becomes disordered, neither hormone is produced the way it’s supposed to be.

How does that “disordering” happen? One reason is too much light too late in the evening, which can slow or prevent the release of melatonin. But the real problem, in my opinion, is too much stress. Chronic worry often leads to high cortisol levels, which keep us from being able to relax at all.

How to fix it: First, cut back on the amount of artificial light in your environment a couple hours before bed. That means turning off overhead lighting and—most of all—putting away your phone, tablet, and other electronic devices. This will help reinforce, or re-establish, your body’s natural production of melatonin.

Second, make Earthing (also known as “grounding”) a regular part of your health regimen. Earthing is the simple act of reconnecting with the natural electromagnetic energy in the Earth’s surface. As we’ve adopted more and more “creature comforts” in our lives, we’ve gotten away from being in regular contact with the ground, and we’ve lost the health benefits that come with that. One of those benefits is helping to balance the autonomic nervous system by turning off your stress (“fight-or-flight”) response. This lowers cortisol, making it easier to fall asleep at night.

What is Earthing or Grounding?

The easiest and cheapest way to practice Earthing is by going for a barefoot walk on a natural surface—grass, sand, dirt, or stone—for at least 30 minutes a day. If getting outside isn’t an option, Earthing products are also available. (Learn additional ways to lower cortisol levels.) I also strongly suggest sleeping grounded using an Earthing pad or sheet, to maximize your connection time and enhance sleep quality.

Third, try meditation for 5-10 minutes before going to bed. It’s as simple as taking deep breaths in and out, paying attention to nothing but your breath. When other thoughts enter your mind, let them go and redirect your focus back to your breath.

For more on stress management, check out my Heart-Happy Life ebook here.

Sign #2: Your Heart Is Skipping Beats

One of the most common concerns I used to see during my years in active practice was heart palpitations. Most of the time, these “skipped” beats, flutters, or racing heartbeats turn out to be nonthreatening in terms of risk. But they can be powerful messengers that you’ve fallen out of touch with your intuition, or are denying important emotions. The unusual rhythm is often just the heart’s way of getting your attention!

Another issue that could be disrupting your heart is the electromagnetic radiation/frequencies (EMF) emitted by wifi, phones, computers, and other electronics. Anecdotally, most of us know how stressful it is to spend days in front of a screen, but there is also some science that links EMF with increases in autonomic nervous system activity and heartbeat irregularities. And since the recent rollout of 5G across the US, we are now bathed in even more electromagnetic radiation (since 5G now adds to 3G and 4G radiation, instead of replacing it). 

How to fix it: Take an honest self-inventory. Are you holding back on expressing some strong feelings? Are there situations in your life that worry you more than you think they do? Are you trying to be someone you’re not? Address the issues that are weighing you down, and your heart is sure to lighten up.

Of course, there are more serious reasons for heart palpitations that are cause for concern, so I always advise getting checked out to rule them out.

As far as electronics go, it’s hard to turn them off altogether, but most of us can afford a 1–2 hour break from them every day. (Start with less, if you need to—any amount helps.) Use that time to go for a walk, to meditate or take up a yoga practice, or to just sit quietly and reconnect with yourself. You can also use that time to incorporate Earthing into your day. Since Earthing helps rebalance the autonomic nervous system, it can offset some of the negative effects of EMF, along with strengthening your body’s ability to handle stress in general. Avoiding foods and beverages known to cause heart palpitations can also help.

Sign #3: Your Digestion Is Off

Excess gas, bloating, constipation, and diarrhea are uncomfortable at best—miserable and embarrassing at worst. They’re also are signs that your diet needs a “nature makeover.”

The extra sugar, trans fats, and artificial colorings, flavorings, and preservatives in packaged, processed, and fast food can upset the natural balance of healthy and unhealthy bacteria in your gut. This can lead to a variety of tummy troubles, not to mention allergies, poor immune function, and a range of other issues.

How to fix it: Ditch the junk food and focus on eating whole, organic high vibrational foods, especially ones that are rich in fiber. Think fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, and low-glycemic whole grains. Good bacteria in the gut feed on fiber, so eating more of it means those bugs are likely to multiply, and to eventually crowd out the bacteria that cause you discomfort. For the best all-around eating plan, check out my Pan-Asian Modified Mediterranean (PAMM) diet. To support a healthy microbiome (the society of bacteria in your gut), be sure to also take a quality probiotic supplement, and/or eat fermented foods like yogurt, kefir, Kim chi or sauerkraut, which offer probiotics as well as prebiotics (which the good bacteria eat). For added support, you might also want to take a prebiotic supplement.

How to Make Your Own Fermented (Probiotic) Foods

Sign #4: You’ve Got the Blues

If you’re feeling down and can’t pinpoint why, one reason may be a lack of vitamin D—the sunshine vitamin. This can especially be a problem if you live in areas farther north, where winters are long and dark.

Unfortunately, we don’t spend as much time outside as we once did, and that prevents our bodies from naturally converting sunlight into this vital nutrient. We work long hours indoors; we entertain ourselves indoors with apps, games, and videos; and we prefer to drive instead of walk. When we do get out, we slather on sunscreen to protect ourselves.

How to fix it: Get outside—without sunscreen—for 20 minutes every day, if you can. Go for a walk, or just sit on your patio or in your yard and feel the energizing warmth of the sun on your face and skin. (This is one of the reasons I love living in Florida!) Your body will do the rest. If you plan to be out longer than 20 minutes, though, you’ll need some protection. Throw on a hat or a light long-sleeved shirt, or apply some zinc oxide to exposed skin.

While you’re out, put your bare feet on the ground, too. A recent study showed that an hour of Earthing also can improve mood.

So, how did you do? Could you benefit from an extra dose or two of nature every day? Most of us can. Fortunately, it’s easy to get started with practices like Earthing and the PAMM diet. Add them to your days, and you can look forward to a lifetime of better health!

References:

© Stephen Sinatra, MD. All rights reserved.

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6 Comments

  1. Jim Halloran

    on September 25, 2017 at 2:03 pm

    It is easy for you to go on and on about earthing when you live in Florida. What about the people that live in the frozen north? Do you think it would be just as good if we had a cat box full of warm soil in the house for grounding? Or maybe grounding in a box if kitty litter, minus the turds of course)? Would that be the same as being barefoot outside in Florida?

  2. HeartMD Editor

    on September 28, 2017 at 9:55 am

    Hi Jim,

    Indeed, it is not possible to ground outdoors all year round for those who don’t live in warm climates. Unfortunately, just bringing in dirt from outside and placing it a box will not do the trick. The dirt won’t ground you because it is no longer in contact with the Earth. If you have a (unpainted) cement basement, you can place your feet on that (though it may get pretty cold). You can also use grounding products. They utilize either the ground wire in your electrical outlets or you can use a separate ground rod to ground the products. Then you can ground day or night, hot or cold, indoors all year round.

  3. GW

    on July 13, 2020 at 12:09 pm

    While spending time connecting barefoot with the earth is important, purchasing Earthing products can be downright dangerous and I really wish you’d stop promoting that practice. I engaged a qualified, skilled EMF consultant to check my home and recommend solutions to minimize the impact of electronic pollution on me. This was one solution I sought to minimize episodes of AFib. I had purchased an Earthing mat, on your recommendation, and it was an absolute nightmare; it triggered my AFib like mad. The consultant explained that depending on the quality of the electrical system in your home, these mats can effectively turn you into a conductor of everything you’re trying to shield and not be impacted by, which is what I experienced. I was basically downloading loads of electricity through the mat. Sleeping with one was also a dreadful nightmare. Bottom line is that in the world of EMF consults and products, it is truly the Wild West at this time. It pays to engage someone who really knows what they’re doing and can slice through the complexities of the sources of EMFs and the nonsense that is promoted by people who want to sell products. In addition, I found the company that sells the mats to be disreputable and unpleasant to deal with when I chose to return the product. Please stop promoting these mats. For other commenters, word to the wise; this product is not the wonderful solution that Dr. Sinatra is promoting. I noted a comment on an AFib forum after purchasing a mat about this very issue. There is much, much more than meets the eye when dealing with EMFs.

  4. John P Feeney

    on July 15, 2020 at 9:54 am

    What about people with AFib or atrial flutter. The treatment is Elequist a blood thinner. What do you suggest? Dr. John

  5. John

    on July 16, 2020 at 2:32 pm

    @GW – The earthing problem in homes with power wiring and a multitude of electrically active devices is low level EMF radiation. These low level radiations induce in conductive mats and grounding wires what engineers call standing waves. If you get lucky or move things around the wave amplitudes may self cancel. But they can also become additive making things worse like you experienced.

  6. Eva Williams

    on August 4, 2020 at 10:15 am

    Jim Halloran, Nature is good! Regardless of Region) What about Alaska and its wonderful landscapes! This is incredible! This helped me overcome ketamine addiction. We were sent on an expedition to Alaska, this was part of the therapy program. Therefore, nature is healing !!!!

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