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Never before did I get so close to Nature; never before did she come so
close to me... Nature was naked, and I was also... Sweet, sane, still Nakedness in Nature! - ah if poor, sick, prurient humanity in cities might really know you once more! Is not nakedness the indecent? No, not inherently. It is your thought, your sophistication, your fear, your respectability, that is indecent. There come moods when these clothes of ours are not only too irksome to wear, but are themselves indecent. Perhaps indeed he or she to whom the free exhilarating ecstasy of nakedness in Nature has never been eligible (and how many thousands there are!) has not really known what purity is--nor what faith or art or health really is.
Walt Whitman, A Sun-bathed Nakedness
© 2001 John C. Davies
MANTRA: Defined as: In Hinduism and Buddhism, a sacred utterance (syllable,
word, or verse) that is considered to possess mystical or spiritual
efficacy. Various mantras are either spoken aloud or merely sounded...
The use of the word mantra has, in recent years, been adopted into western
culture. Openly or covertly we all, both in business and in a personal
sense, have certain mantras that we tend to use, and naturists are no
We naturists speak to the wider world of the health benefits; of a feeling
of well-being; and of a physical, mental and emotional calmness that we
achieve when we participate in naturism. As the definition suggests,
however, we believe that these expressions, our mantras, have meaning and
power but just like the mantras of the ancients we also take to them a
certain mysticism which does not have a particularly rational or provable
basis. For this we tend to be viewed with more than a little scepticism by
the textile world.
Looking to the outside world for proofs that our mantras have some basis in
fact becomes more important where naturism is under threat, or where it
wants to expand and present itself rationally to non-naturists. Are there
any such proofs?
Recently, H&E carried a small news piece about a resurgence of the disease
rickets. This is directly linked to the lack of exposure to sunlight in
small children, indeed even with respect to the mother during pregnancy.
Diet can help, but sunlight on the bare skin is the most effective
preventative. Here is one small scientific proof of the mantra that naturism
can provide a health benefit, especially in the young.
What else might there be out there that can support our contention, our
mantra, that naturism is a healthy lifestyle?
In Britain, as well as much of the "civilised" world, rates of heart disease
are soaring. Fast food and high fat food added to a hectic day-to-day
schedule, aggravated by the general stresses of modern living, increases our
chances of sudden heart attack. For years the scientists have thought this
related only to poor diet and a build up of cholesterol in the blood
vessels. Recently, however, a blood study conducted on some 36,000 samples
has shed some new light on the subject. Sunlight, in fact.
Recently, Dr. David Grimes, a consultant at the Ribble Valley NHS Trust, in
Lancashire, established a possible link between cholesterol levels and
exposure to sunlight. His findings, more sun exposure equals less
cholesterol, tend to provide an explanation of why heart attack rates may be
linked, not to diet alone, but also to climate and exposure to sunlight, or
the lack of such exposure. He found, for instance, that there is a seasonal
link associated with cholesterol levels in blood. In winter cholesterol
levels are generally higher.
"People think Mediterranean's have low heart disease as they eat more olive
oil and fresh food," said Dr. Grimes. "But it is because they are exposed to
more sunlight." Britain's poor, he suggests, may be more prone to heart
disease because they simply do not get as much sun exposure, in, say, a
garden, as the more affluent segments of society and cannot afford foreign
holidays to sunnier climes. He has been able to show that people with
gardens, for example, have lower overall cholesterol levels and higher
levels of Vitamin D, a definitive marker of sun exposure levels. Dr. Grimes
can also demonstrate that people in the north of England and Scotland have
higher overall cholesterol levels, and heart attack rates, than those living
in the generally sunnier south. Another small proof!
In another instance, this time concerning the occurrence of the disease
multiple sclerosis, a paper was presented by Professor Graham Bentham, from
the environmental sciences department of East Anglia University, to the
Royal Geographic Society and Institute of British Geographers, at their
conference in Plymouth, which suggested a link between sun exposure, as a
preventative, and the occurrence of the disease.
It has been known that the risk of contracting multiple sclerosis may be up
to 100 times greater if a person lives in a northern country, such as Norway
or Iceland, as opposed to living closer to the equator. This fact has been
established for over fifty years. One theory has centred on the body's
levels of Vitamin D; however, Prof. Bentham suggests that if Vitamin D were
the only factor it could be corrected by diet.
His suggestion is now that, as the disease is one where the body's immune
system is attacking part of the nervous system, and sunlight is a known
imuno-suppressent, that sun exposure acts directly to reduce the chances of
contracting the disease, independent of Vitamin D levels. This is the first
time such a link has been statistically demonstrated. Another small proof,
another link in the chain!
Lastly, there is SAD, seasonal affective disorder. The winter blues. A
seasonal depression disorder well established as having a relationship to
exposure to light, and sunlight in particular. With shorter days and lower
light intensity in our winter indoor environment this affliction affects
millions. It can be as serious as prompting some to suicide.
The cure, however, is as well known as the cause. In winter, especially in
northern climates, exposure to high intensity light corrects the body's
imbalances and creates a mood enhancing effect reducing or completely
reversing the depressed state of mind. The most effective treatment - an
hour or two in front of a high intensity light box or going out for a walk!
The prevention as well as the cure is both simple and elegant, exposure to
Naturists, hopefully, can now present their mantras a little less as a
mystical faith in their belief that naturism is a healthful, healthy and
health giving state of being by showing that scientists, from various
disciplines, are beginning to prove, in many small ways, that not only is
the sun the origin of life but also it's custodian. Naturists have been
instinctively right all along, now the scientific proof is starting to
John Davies, Liverpool, England
Originally published in Great Britain in Health and Efficiency magazine.
Published here with permission of the author.
To contact the author e-mail <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Feedback and comment are welcome.