It is a pleasant and healthy experience sitting outside my compound in my village watching trees – mango trees, palm trees, coconut trees, orange trees, sycamore trees and so on. At the back the compound are vegetables, bitter leaf, tomatoes and pepper etc. These are plants God has created to produce fruits, nuts, seeds and vegetables to be consumed for our health (Genesis 1:29).
The fruits ripen naturally and are timely harvested. I sometimes deserve an avocado fall from the tree and pawpaw slowly changing colour as it ripens. These are unlike most fruits which are usually harvested prematurely and forced to ripen unnaturally. Unsurprisingly, such fruits are usually deficient in the nutrients God planned them to have.
Staying in gardens and orchards usually brings one close to nature. However, apart from admiring the natural environment of plants, one also enjoys fresh air and natural light. Fresh air is essential for life. One health problem of urban and industrialised areas is atmospheric pollution. In some areas, there are refuse dumps burning, smouldering and emitting poisonous fumes continuously. People living and working in those areas are usually exposed to diseases affecting the lungs. The air they breathe contains more carbon dioxide and other pollutants and less of oxygen required by the body to maintain health.
Air is like the food we eat. We need to get enough good quality air which contains oxygen, a detoxifier removing poisons from the body. Without oxygen, the blood becomes impure and provides a breeding ground for disease. Lack of oxygen for about five minutes can result in death.
Some people do not realise the health value of sunlight. It has been scientifically proved that sunlight is medicinal. It has healing properties and kills germs. The two main ways to get vitamin D are by exposing your bare skin to sunlight and by taking vitamin D supplements. You can’t get the right amount of vitamin D your body needs from food. Exposing your bare skin to sunlight is the most natural way of obtaining vitamin D.
When you expose yourself to fresh air and sunlight, it has significant effect on your immune system. The value of sunlight for the sick has been demonstrated in hospitals. Recovery percentage has been found to be higher among patients in rooms having abundant fresh air and sunlight.
Researchers from the Baker Heart Institute in Melbourne found that levels of serotonin – a neurotransmitter that regulates appetite, sleep, memory, and mood – are lower during winter than summer. The researchers noted that the only factor that affected participants’ moods was the amount of sunlight they were exposed to on any given day. More sunlight meant better moods; less sunlight led to symptoms of depression.
Sunlight shuts off the body’s production of melatonin, a hormone produced at night that makes you feel drowsy. It has also been proved that it affects the moods and pain medication usage of patients undergoing surgery. It was found that patients who were placed in bright rooms reported less perceived stress and took less medication per hour than patients in dim rooms. This study also suggests that even indirect exposure to sunlight through a window can improve one’s mood.
Many of our houses are not adequately ventilated. Even where windows are provided to allow fresh air and sunlight into the rooms, we ignorantly cover the vents with heavy window blinds, which beautify the room but cut off life-giving fresh air and sunlight. People who spend much time in such rooms must go out occasionally to refresh themselves. A room devoid of fresh air and sunlight is an unhealthy environment.
Most offices are also designed to completely cut off fresh air and natural light. People who work in such offices must seek opportunity to expose themselves to life-giving fresh air and sunlight.
Spending most of the day in air-conditioned houses, cars and offices is a symbol of sophistication but does not promote health. This is where poverty may have an advantage. Artificial lights provided as alternatives to natural light have been shown to have health problems.
The bottom-line is that most of the comforts and luxuries that modern lifestyle offers us often come at a cost to our health. Nature remains the only source of health-promoting delights.