As I thoroughly enjoyed the long 4th of July weekend, my mind traveled to why I always feel so good after a day at the beach… all because of wonderful molecules called negative ions.
According to Wikipedia, “An ion is an atom or molecule in which the total number of electrons is not equal to the total number of protons, giving it a net positive or negative electrical charge. An anion, from the Greek word ἄνω (ánō), meaning "up", is an ion with more electrons than protons, giving it a net negative charge (since electrons are negatively charged and protons are positively charged). Conversely, a cation, from the Greek word κατά (katá), meaning "down", is an ion with fewer electrons than protons, giving it a positive charge.
I have to keep things simple in my mind so by my definition, there are both negative and positive ions which are molecules that have gained or lost an electrical charge. From a health perspective, negative ions are the good guys and positive ions are the bad guys (just the opposite of the meaning of the words, negative and positive). Ions are invisible, tasteless and odorless so we don’t realize how much our health and daily lives are affected by them.
Negative ions are in abundance outdoors (especially at the beach due to the pounding waves and salt water). They are created by nature as air molecules break apart due to sunlight and moving air and water. Circulating air contains thousands of negative ions, unlike the home or office building which may contain none. Negative ions produce biochemical reactions in our bodies that increase the level of the mood chemical serotonin, helping to alleviate depression, relieve stress, and boost energy. Negative ions also increase the flow of oxygen to the brain, resulting in greater alertness, decreased drowsiness and more mental energy!
According to Michael Terman, PhD, of Columbia University in New York:
"The action of the pounding surf creates negative air ions and we also see it immediately after spring thunderstorms when people report lightened moods. In fact, Columbia University studies of people with winter and chronic depression show that negative ion generators relieve depression as much as antidepressants. The best part is that there are relatively no side effects."
Now let’s discuss positive ions (the bad guys)! I’m sure anyone reading this who sits behind a computer all day can relate to the feeling of being “drained”. You just want to go home and lay down. Well there is a reason for this…positive ions. Our daily lives are filled with positive ions that suck the life out of us. Just think about all the electronic devices such as TV, florescent lighting, computers, air conditioning, cell phones and the list goes on that we use everyday. Positive ions drain us of our precious energy and cause tiredness, irritation, depression and other health issues.
I hear folks blaming their job for how bad they feel…they think that just because they feel better when not at the office, that it’s the job. Well it may be the job, but more than likely it’s the positive ions draining them and lack of negative ions. Think about it…you leave the office totally drained, go for a quick walk and you’re ready to party! Sometimes just going outside during the day revives the energy level.
So as I enjoyed my weekend and thought of ions and the effect on wellness, I thought I’d pass on a little information and a few tips I’ve learned to feel good daily. In this case, we want to keep it “negative”, ions that is!
- Spend more time outdoors, than indoors.
- Open the windows and allow fresh air in the house, office or car.
- Limit daily use of electronics and air conditioning or just be aware of what these devices are doing to you…counteract with a walk or taking a break and going outside.
- Leave the florescent lighting off at the office (or use less). Use a desk lamp.
- If you live by the beach, mountains, waterfalls, lakes…get out and enjoy it.
- Walk, run, bike, swim, and sit….outdoors.
- Decorate with live plants and water fountains.
- Take baths with salt (preferably Plantlife’s Bath Salt (over 84 trace minerals, pesticide and herbicide free)).
- Add a decorative salt lamp to your desk.
- Use an air ionizer.
My goal in writing this is to make you aware of ions as they play a vital role in your health and the way you feel. I do hope you will conduct your own research on ions. Nature provides us with everything our bodies need to be well!