Helps you sleep better, benefits mental health, increases brown fat and 5 other things the sea does for you

Helps you sleep better, benefits mental health, increases brown fat and 5 other things the sea does for you

The sea, this miracle

It is for many the largest natural spa in the world for the feeling of relaxation and well-being it offers, but the benefits of sea water are much wider than you can imagine. It is a case of asking: what does the sea water have?

“We know well the physical-chemical composition of seawater, as well as the biological components associated with it, namely algae, corals and plankton”, Pedro Cantista, president of the Portuguese Society of Medical Hydrology, tells CNN Portugal. “Interestingly, seawater has a chemical composition very similar to human plasma, including its osmolarity.”

Pedro Cantista underlines that seawater contains “a little more than 80 dissolved elements, in ionic form, very useful for the metabolism of our cells, which makes it a privileged source of mineral supplements and trace elements”, with “six of the ions present in seawater constitute more than 90% of that saline solution, specifically chlorine, sodium, magnesium, calcium, potassium and sulfate”. Furthermore, it is necessary to consider sodium chloride, “the most expressive compound” in sea water and which gives it density, which makes bodies immersed in it exert a “greater impulsion”, which constitutes “an enormous ‘ added value’ when this water is used for physical medicine and rehabilitation purposes, in a modality we call ‘hydrokinesiotherapy’”, the so-called hydrogymnastics, he explains.

The benefits of sea water are so vast that they give rise to a set of varied treatments that are part of thalassotherapy, which also makes use of marine resources other than the sea. There are studies that focus on its consumption – which is not advised -, its inhalation and simple contact or proximity. In all cases, health wins and, as Pedro Cantista advises, talking to your doctor is the best option. “In addition to chemical therapeutic factors, we must also consider physical (thermal, hydrostatic and hydrodynamic), biological and psychological factors.”

1. Less stress and anxiety

The simple exposure to natural environments is a way to relax, but the sea is for many a refuge in moments of more anguish and science knows why: being by the sea helps to lower stress levels and anxiety states. And those who live by the sea benefit even more, according to a study by the University of Exeter, in the United Kingdom, which reveals that living by the coast is associated with better mental health, especially on the part of people with lower incomes. Another research, also carried out in the UK, says that the closer you live to the beach, the better the person’s perception of good mental health.

2. Better sleep quality

In 2015, The Guardian reported on a study carried out by the National Trust that found that the simple habit of walking by the sea helps you sleep better – and that doing so could provide 47 more minutes of quality sleep per night. .

3. More physical activity

“Swimming is a very interesting physical activity for all our musculoskeletal, metabolic and cardiorespiratory health”, says Pedro Cantista. And swimming in the sea can be even better for your health just by contacting all the minerals it offers. But not only. In addition to allowing the practice of various sports, such as surfing, bodyboarding, kitesurfing, windsurfing, sailing or stand up paddle – which promote a more active lifestyle -, the sea encourages physical exercise even for those who don’t want to get wet. . In 2014, a study by the University of Exeter School of Medicine revealed that being close to the coast increases the likelihood of people being physically active, with running and walking being common in these cases.

4. Lower risk of obesity

A South Korean study on laboratory rats linked seawater with a greater likelihood of losing weight and a lower tendency to accumulate fat, with seawater having the ability to interfere with the expression of molecules linked to obesity. But swimming, by itself, is already an excellent way to move the body and burn fat, and doing it in cold water, such as the sea, can be even more effective. A study published in 2019 indicates that swimming in cold water (in water below seven degrees) may be a strategy to increase brown fat, and therefore reduce the risk of obesity.

But the doctor Pedro Cantista warns about the temperature of the sea water, which he considers to be “a very important factor that should be carefully taken care of”. “Very sudden heat shocks can trigger neurovascular reflexes that in extreme cases are likely to trigger cardiac arrest.”

5. Respiratory improvements

The American Family Physician, an independent medical journal, reveals that nasal irrigation with water from the worm “is an adjunctive therapy for upper respiratory conditions” such as acute and chronic rhinosinusitis, viral upper respiratory infection and allergic rhinitis. In 2005, the Royal Prince Alfred Hospital in Sydney started a new treatment for cystic fibrosis inspired by surfers, specifically their contact with the ocean through inhalation.

6. Enhanced heart health

Deep sea water, which is more than 200 meters deep and is therefore richer in minerals and less polluted, alters blood pressure and exhibits hypolipidemic effects, that is, it reduces the accumulation of fat in the arteries, completed a study by China Medical University Yingcai Campus School of Pharmacy.

7. Skin improvements

Sergio Diez Alvarez, director of Medicine at the University of Newcastle, listed on The Conversation website a series of benefits of seawater, especially at the skin level – and this has been discussed for many years, with a study in 1995 concluding that bathing in the Dead Sea water, rich in magnesium, improves the skin’s barrier function, increases skin hydration and reduces inflammation in atopic dry skin. Sergio Diez Alvarez says that the minerals in seawater are good for people with psoriasis, as people with eczema should get tested first, as some people may experience improvement but others may not.

“Immersion in sea water is essential for the absorption of trace elements that, although in very small amounts, manage to overcome the skin barrier”, explains Pedro Cantista.

8. Good health in general

Pedro Cantista says that the benefits “are so many and so varied”, but that health, in general, benefits from seawater, whether in a context of proximity or even immersion. “We can cite as general indications allergies, skin diseases, osteoarticular diseases, vascular problems, respiratory diseases, obesity, stress and fatigue.”

And simply being by the sea, concludes the president of the Portuguese Society of Medical Hydrology, “allows you to enjoy the maritime climate, particularly the characteristics of its air, temperature, humidity, ultraviolet radiation, which is essential for the synthesis of vitamin D”.

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