Why Going Barefoot Is Actually Good for You

Photo: Stocksy/Asamizenri

Even though it doesn't quite feel like it yet, it's officially spring—and that means it won't be long until you can trade winter boots for sandals. But celeb nutritionist and Ayurveda expert Kimberly Snyder  says you may actually want to go barefoot instead. Grounding is a concept that can help you feel more connected to the earth (both literally and metaphorically) while potentially improving your overall wellbeing. Here, the Well+Good Council member explains what grounding is, how to get started, and what to expect from this down-to-earth experience.

Remember being a little kid, running barefoot through the yard? You felt so free! But unfortunately, those experiences become few and far between as we grow up. As adults, we always wear shoes outside the house—our feet rarely touch the dirt. Modern life is designed to keep us from having direct contact with the earth.

That’s where grounding comes in. Also called earthing, grounding refers to making any kind of direct contact with the earth’s surface. This approach allows for reconnecting with the earth’s electrons, reaping a ton of healthy benefits.

In this guide to grounding, you’ll learn everything you need to know about this back-to-nature strategy, and how it can positively impact your health as well as your beauty.

learn about grounding, or earthing, and its benefits
Photo: Unsplash/Nick Scheerbart

What is grounding?

Our bodies make their own electricity; atoms that are made up of positively charged protons, negatively charged electrons, and neutrally charged neutrons are floating around inside us. However, modern technology is capable of throwing that electrical energy off. Plus, continual exposure to pollutants and technology’s electromagnetic fields can cause free radicals (or unpaired positive ions) to build up in our bodies.

Reconnecting with the earth can bring us back to a balanced, neutral state.

Luckily, reconnecting with the earth can bring us back to a balanced, neutral state. That’s because when we make contact, negative ions from the surface make their way into our bodies and release the free radicals we’ve been accumulating. These free radicals have been linked to premature aging, inflammation, and disease. Remarkably, getting back in touch (literally!) with nature can protect you from those issues.

what is grounding?
Photo: Jacob Townsend on Unsplash

What benefits can it bring you?

Research is continually mounting on how much grounding can do for you, and let’s just say the benefits are eye-opening.

If you’re struggling to catch zzz’s, consider that grounding can result in improved sleep (which can positively affect your energy, while warding off depression, anxiety, and other issues connected to insomnia). And when you're awake, grounding can help reduce inflammation—which can cause or aggravate everything from chronic disease to premature aging. (Research suggests that grounding can even reduce pain, stiffness, swelling, redness, and other signs of inflammation following an injury caused by strenuous or unfamiliar exercise.)

Research is continually mounting on how much grounding can do for you.

Our bone health is something that we all need to be more mindful of as we age. Fortunately, a report in the Journal of Environmental and Public Health revealed that grounding may result in a reduction of the risk of osteoporosis. In fact, study subjects who spent just one night of grounding experienced less of a loss of calcium and phosphorous through their urine—minerals connected to the development of osteoporosis.

Of course, heart disease is also a big concern. One study from 2013 showed that earthing can actually reduce the viscosity of a participant’s blood—which is noteworthy, given that blood viscosity is a risk factor in terms of developing heart disease.

You didn’t think I’d stop there, did you? Grounding comes with a ton of other benefits as well, including improved mood, quicker immune responses, and, as previously touched on, protection from EMFs.

Photo: Pete Bellis on Unsplash

How can you practice it?

All you have to do is make direct skin contact with soil (or another conductive surface that’s also in direct contact with the earth). The simplest strategy for grounding is to slip off your shoes and take a stroll outside, whether it’s in your grassy backyard, a beach, or the local park. You can practice grounding with some outdoor meditation, glove-free gardening, barefoot yoga outside, or napping in the grass. Some contact with water, which is a conductor, makes it even more powerful, so try walking in dewy grass or at the beach right at the water's edge. I know we don’t all live next to the beach, but you can practice it whenever possible!

If you live in a climate that has cold winters, don’t worry—you don’t need to walk on the frozen ground. There are a variety of earthing sheets and mats that provide some similar benefits. The earth’s electrons will travel through the ground wire and onto the mat, rushing your body.

It’s no wonder we feel at peace when we’re in nature—the elements inside us match up with those outside of us.

Ayurveda teaches us that the five elements found in nature (fire, earth, water, air, and space) are the very same ones that make up our bodies. So it’s no wonder we feel at peace when we’re in nature—the elements inside us match up with those outside of us, thus achieving balance. Hopefully, by now, you’re on board. So with that, I’ll see you outside!

Well+Good Council member Kimberly Snyder, CN, is the New York Times best‐selling author of The Beauty Detox SolutionThe Beauty Detox Foods and The Beauty Detox Powerand co-author of Radical Beautywith Deepak Chopra. Her popular beauty blog, KimberlySnyder.com, features Ayurveda-inspired recipes and products—and she's also the creator of Glow Bio, an organic juice, smoothie, and cleanse company.

What should Kimberly write about next? Send your questions and suggestions to experts@www.wellandgood.com

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