If I know anything about how all life works, it’s that we exist in a state of constant ebb and flow. Fast and feast; rest and exercise; the rise and fall of hormones—all vital to keep the body in balance. When a hormone stays on constantly, we feast too much, or even exercise too much; any factor remaining elevated—even if it’s healthy—can eventually create a serious problem.
To break up your work day, giving you the ebb to your flow and yin to your yang, here’s 10 ways that eating lunch outdoors benefits your body.
NATURE NATURALLY SOOTHES
Whether it’s introducing an aquarium to your surroundings, walking through wooded areas or watching the ducks nearby, we’ve all felt the soothing effects of nature. It’s shown to lower your heart rate and blood pressure, decrease stresshormones and ease muscle tension. Prioritizing this may also be a main reason that centenarians in the blue zones live for so long.
BIOLOGICALLY YOUR BODY RUNS BETTER
On a chemical level, everything works better when you’re able to de-stress: you secrete HCl into the stomach which properly breaks down food, killing dangerous bacteria and pathogens and prepares your body to absorb all nutrients rather than just passing them along half-digested. This prevents gut overgrowth further down the line like SIBO (Small Intestinal Bacterial Overgrowth).
INCREASE MINDFULNESS & MEDITATE
Just mindfully thinking about your food secretes more salivary enzymes which means better digestibility and absorption from the very start. Your food tastes better, you enjoy it more and you gain meditation benefits without doing anything fancy outside of loving your food.
VITAMIN D AS A HORMONE
It’s no new information that vitamin D helps absorb calcium to build and maintain strong bones, helping prevent osteoporosis. But it also acts as a hormone, interacting with others like adrenaline, dopamine and serotonin. Low vitamin D levels increases risk of depression significantly so get out there and enjoy the rays!
SUNSHINE IMPROVES MOOD, REGULATES HORMONES
Outside of the benefits that come with vitamin D, sunshine in general is important for proper creation of melatonin, serotonin and stem cells. It also aids in the proper functioning of the immune system and metabolism. Replacing sunlight with fluorescent light all day is linked to increased risk for obesity, diabetes, substance abuse, depression and other diseases.
GIVE YOUR EYES A BREAK
When most people take a break from the computer, they pick up their… smaller computer, i.e. their phone. Try the 20-20-20 rule: every 20 minutes, focus on something 20 feet away or farther for at least 20 seconds. Also taking more five minute screen breaks during the day has been proven to decrease pain and eye strain while increasing productivity.
The area of the brain where Directed Attention Fatigue occurs is the same area that kids with ADHD have trouble with. According to researchers, exposure to nature increases creativity, problem solving and is a potential treatment for ADHD symptoms.
FRESH AIR BOOSTS IMMUNITY
In one study, those who had spent time in the woods for three days had an increase of natural killer cells (which stop viruses and tumor formation). This increase lasted for more than 30 days. This increase is thanks to the phytoncides given off by trees and plants.
When is the last time your bare feet touched the earth? Coming out of winter, it could be months! By putting your feet in the grass while you eat, you may be able to lower free radical damage, stress, inflammation and pain by letting positive ions like EMFs out of your body that build up.
GUT BACTERIA LOVE THE SUN
Level up the most by exposing your gut to the sunshine as well. Just like how red light therapy increases diversity and health of the gut microbiome, the sun contains this same light and has shined on our guts for millennia!