Nicola Hodges Nutrition
What is it? How can something so simple and free support health
and well-being- especially for those with chronic health conditions and autoimmune diseases?
As a nutritional therapy practitioner that specialises in autoimmunity, I am always looking for natural ways to lower inflammation in my clients and myself!
Have you ever seen someone walking barefoot in the park and wondered what on earth they were doing? Maybe you were concerned they would walk on a piece of broken glass or dog poo? Those were my first thoughts when I first witnessed this!
These barefoot walkers were likely to be participating in something called 'grounding' or 'earthing'- they are the same thing.
When we hit the beach our first instinct is to take our shoes off and feel the sand in between our toes! You could argue that this is to prevent sand from getting in our shoes but we still do anyway and it's more than that I think, we want to get connected!
There are health benefits to allowing our bare feet (or hands) to touch the earth and this summer I thought I'd give it a try up on Dartmoor. I can honestly say I really feel it made a difference, even my Husband thinks so and he can often be found fondly chuckling at my novel wellness practices- usually shortly before he partakes himself and doesn't look back.
The feelings it gave me are what I would associate with a really good energising stretchy yoga session, it is like an unblocking of energy and improved circulation coupled with a deeper sense of well-being.
So what's the scientific reasoning and is there any science behind it all? There certainly is! In the book 'Earthing' by Clinton Ober, Stephen T. Sinatra, M.D. and Martin Zucker ( this book is fully referenced and is a well-researched piece of work) they go on to say;
'The planet is a six sextillion (that's six followed by twenty-one zeros) metric ton battery that is continually being replenished by solar radiation, lightning, and heat from its deep-down molten core'.
Allowing our body to physically connect to this power source has been shown in several studies (in peer-reviewed journals) to reduce inflammation and shows promise for more studies to come.
'The Earth itself is the original anti-inflammatory'
Infrared imaging backs up these findings, when we think of chronic inflammatory, often painful diseases such as autoimmune diseases, arthritis with heat and swelling, chronic fatigue, fibromyalgia, back pain, allergies, and even PMS and menstrual issues it seems that grounding may be of help!
Grounding is also said to provide stress relief, improve sleep, improve cortisol rhythms, speed up wound healing, improve athletic recovery, improve mitochondrial health, and improve the viscosity of blood!
The hypothesis behind how this all works goes like this- inflammation is a deficiency of free electrons- we've all heard about free radicals causing oxidative stress within the body and that eating antioxidants can be a way of counterbalancing this. The theory is that the earth itself is one big huge electron donor that can also help to mop up these free radicals. The researchers say that 24/7 modern living in buildings and wearing shoes has disconnected us from the earth's natural healing properties that we have evolved to be in contact with.
It seems that earthing needs to be a consistent practice, when we stop doing it, we stop getting the benefits. The longer we ground the better, but about half an hour daily is a good start. It's even possible to buy grounding mats and mattresses to sleep on!
Bottom line: Find a nice piece of grass, check it's safe to go barefoot, and give it a try. It's simple, free, and may hold many benefits, especially for autoimmune disease sufferers. Me, I notice the difference after just a few minutes and can feel an immediate difference in my calf muscles, also my wristwatch monitors my heart rate and it says my heart slows down too! Maybe Dartmoor has particularly strong energy? I will be sticking with it.