NEWSTART Element #6: Air

A detailed, scientific explanation of Nutrition by Neil Nedley, M.D., taken from his book Proof Positive

Throughout most of recorded history, it seems that people have taken fresh air for granted. However, with the advent of the industrial revolution, followed by current concerns for indoor and outdoor air pollution, fresh air has become a more valued commodity. An excellent article on fresh air was penned some years ago by Dr. Bernell Baldwin. Entitled “Why is Fresh Air Fresh?”92 Baldwin pointed out that fresh air is chemically different than the recirculated indoor air that most Americans breathe. High quality fresh air is actually electrified. The life-giving oxygen molecule is negatively charged or “negatively ionized.” This negatively charged oxygen gives rise to a number of benefits as listed in Figure 17: Effects of Negetively Charged Fresh Air.93, 94, 95, 96, 97, 98, 99

An environment of negatively charged ions truly has remarkable effects. Some of the most impressive have to do with behavior. Some of the research has centered on animals that were raised in such a way as to develop the equivalent of human anxiety disorders. When these animals were allowed to breathe air with an abundance of negative ions they were protected against some of the physical changes linked to anxiety. Animals exposed to negative ions showed a normalization of pertinent brain chemistry measurements and did not show any tendency to high blood pressure or ulcers.100 (In fact, even in animals with no behavioral disorders predisposing them to ulcers, negative air ions helped to promote less significant ulcer disease including smaller ulcers, less bleeding and less acid secretion.101)

In studies of children, negative ions have also demonstrated salutary effects. In one study, normal children and those with learning disabilities showed measurable improvements in brain function.102 The authors concluded: “Negative air ions are seen to be a tool with potential theoretical and remedial applications.”103

Other research further underscores the fact that fresh—negatively ionized—air helps to keep our mood buoyant and positive. Baldwin and others cite the Middle Eastern “sharaw” (also transliterated “sharav”) windstorms that bring an abundance of unwanted positive ions with them.104, 105, 106, 107 During these storms, as many as 30 percent of individuals develop problems with increased anxiety and suspicion, migraine headaches, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, eye problems, irritability, respiratory congestion, etc. The positive ions seem to alter brain levels of serotonin, an important mood-elevating chemical. These hot desert winds rob the air of helpful negative ions.

Negatively charged air is also destroyed by recirculating air in buildings, tobacco smoke, city smog, and other pollutants. On the other hand, good quality negatively ionized air is found in abundance in natural outdoor environments, especially around evergreen trees, beach surf, or after a thunderstorm.

Researchers have been studying the harmful effects of polluted air on human beings. Their findings confirm that pollution depletes the air of negative ions. In addition, the common pollutant, ozone, has been demonstrated to cause eye irritation, shortness of breath, cough, worsened lung function, and decreased physical performance.108, 109 Worse yet, women living in one of the nation’s most highly polluted regions, the South Coast Air Basin of California, experience increased risk of cancer in proportion to their total exposure to particulate pollutants.110

Clearly, it behooves all of us to get as much fresh air as possible. When we are overcome by stress and worry, getting away from our urban dwellings and workplaces seems to promise more than a change of venue. The medical literature indicates that a drive to the seashore, a local state park, or other natural setting promises improved mental and physical health as we breathe in the refreshing fresh air with its abundance of negative ions. Better yet, if it can be arranged, living in a more rural setting would likely yield the blessing of better quality air as well as other amenities.

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