I may receive a commission if you purchase through links in this post. I am not a doctor; please consult your practitioner before changing your supplement or healthcare regimen.
8 Benefits of Sea and Sun for Autoimmune Conditions shares the surprising health improvements that can happen when you live or vacation in a sunny, coastal location! I start by sharing how three separate trips affected my wellness process, and then look at 8 specific benefits.
I also hone in on 7 possible benefits from swimming in the ocean.
The sun and climate benefits of Disneyland
I’ll tell you a 2-part story … The first part happened several years ago when our family traveled to California to visit Disneyland.
At that time, I had some rather extreme food sensitivities. I got a terribly itchy set of blisters and inflammation on my fingers if I ate any raw vegetables, chicken, beef or lamb. My diet was limited to cooked vegetables, pork, eggs and seafood.
After a few days in CA, I needed to eat chicken. We were in our hotel room with a cooler-full of GAPS-friendly foods that we’d brought along. The rest of my family was eating chicken soup. There weren’t a bunch of alternatives. So I tried it, very reluctantly, expecting a flare and regret. Yet I didn’t have a breakout.
In general on that trip, I felt well in an unusual and vibrant way. I sensed that the California climate was benefiting my health.
Over the course of the week, this proved true. I dared to eat the foods that just one week before had caused a flare. But I remained symptom-free.
When I returned home to Oregon, the food sensitivities remained in my past.
BENEFITS OF SEA AND SUN FOR AUTOIMMUNE CONDITIONS
The trip apparently propelled my healing to a new level.
While the low stress environment of having a vacation was certainly beneficial, I believe the warmer climate was key, allowing me to synthesize more vitamin D.
Despite all my (yes, helpful) efforts with supplements and methods of detoxification, it was the change in climate that my body needed.
My husband and I actually (briefly) discussed moving to a sunny climate after that trip, because the sun’s effect on my body was so profound. One source states vitamin D, “… improves autoimmune protection.” (source)
The benefits of sun and sea in the Bahamas
Part 2 of the story began in 2017, when we departed for a 3-week trip to the sunny Bahamian islands. Honestly, I had forgotten Part 1 until we got back! But as I meditated on Part 2, Part 1 rushed back into my memory.
Grocery options were limited on the islands: very little organic or grass-fed, lots of available grains and processed foods (sadly) and an abundance of starches.
I made white rice and sweet potatoes regularly (which we usually limit) so we’d have enough to eat. We hoped our grain-free, low-starch bodies would digest the foods well — which, surprisingly they did!
During the trip, my energy levels soared. I never got stomach aches (which I occasionally get here in the States), even when I missed adding in digestive aids like bitters or Betaine HCl.
My youngest son, who for as long as we can remember has had little bumps all over his legs, had this symptom disappear entirely. My daughter’s stubborn eczema on a small spot of her shoulder went away. (Dermatologists have often affirmed the phenomenon of sea water healing skin ailments. [source])
We attribute some of our improvements to the sunshine and some to the sand and ocean.
As I’ve discussed before in my articles about grounding (also called earthing), connectivity to the earth (like going to the beach provides) indeed re-balances the body.
Organs get more energy for effective function and healing from the earth’s negative ions.
FOODBORNE ILLNESS and the sea
Toward the end of our trip, I ingested a toxin from a local fish. I had an upset stomach for a few days and decreased energy intermittently. I got into the ocean water one day when my energy was particularly low (no good sitting in our rental cottage!) and felt a surge of happiness, wellness and a spike in energy. Amazing!
(By the way, if you ever have food poisoning that affects your bowels, I recommend this. I didn’t have activated charcoal with me. Instead I increased my zinc and took the above linked-to prebiotic, excellent for colon health, the immune system and gut healing. I didn’t figure out the cause of my tummy trouble right away. Once I did and treated it, my bowels improved dramatically from that point on, and I was fully well quickly.)
What does the ocean provide that vitamin D from the sun does not?
I have counted at least 7 possible benefits from swimming in the ocean:
Ocean water is mineral rich. It contains calcium, magnesium, sodium, chloride, sulfate and potassium. (The practice of
intentionally swimming in mineral-rich water is called balneotherapy.)
2. CIRCULATION FOR IMMUNITY AND DETOX
The sea heightens circulation and the immune system.
Our pores open, too, allowing our bodies to absorb trace elements and usher out toxins.
3. MORE OXYGEN ABSORPTION
Even inhaling the sea mist is beneficial, as it contains negative ions. (source) Negative ions help our bodies to absorb more oxygen, and they help regulate seratonin levels. Yes, I slept beautifully during our travels!
4. THYROID SUPPORT
The sea is also rich in iodine, a supplement my body responds well to, and one that can help to regulate the thyroid. I had Hashimoto’s; so for me especially, ocean water may be powerfully balancing and energizing. (source)
While not everyone benefits from iodine supplements, iodine directly from the ocean is gentle and stimulating.
5. and 6. CLEANS NASAL PASSAGES AND CLEANSES TOXINS
What about swallowing small amounts of ocean water? Yes, it’s beneficial! Swimming will quickly get you coughing up phlegm. And any ingested water is great at cleaning toxins from the colon. (source and source)
7. REST AND HEAL STATE
The ocean and swimming also stimulate the parasympathetic nervous system, resulting in a calm state, efficient organ function and a healthy brain-gut connection!
As aforementioned, traveling to a tropical, sunny location invites low stress and an active lifestyle. These factors add to the benefits that are already being provided from the sun and ocean. They contribute to proper detoxification and overall wellness.
And physical activity increases for those who live by the coast! (source)
In conclusion, what health issues and autoimmune symptoms were affected by our exposure to sun and sea?
I have counted at least 8 areas of direct benefit from our vacations to sunny coastal climates:
- food sensitivities
- stomach aches/poor digestion
- food borne illness
- low energy
- thyroid regulation
Leading health websites tell us, “Autoimmune diseases are chronic conditions with no cure. Treatment involves attempts to control the process of the disease and to decrease the symptoms, especially during flare-ups.”
Ironically, limiting sun exposure is one of several medical recommendations for controlling the disease. (source)
While the sun and surf did not cure me, my exposure to nature improved my symptoms and overall feeling of well-being.