These 5 Minerals May Be Why You Feel Great After Swimming In The Ocean
Have you ever wondered why swimming in the ocean is so refreshing and invigorating?
If you have, you're not alone. People have been using the ocean for its health benefits for centuries. Using seawater for its health benefits even has an official medical name: thalassotherapy.
So what is it about seawater that's so good for our health? One possible explanation is the essential minerals—like magnesium, chloride, and sodium—it contains.
The minerals in seawater.
The most common mineral in seawater is chloride. Not to be mistaken for chlorine, "Chloride is one of the most important electrolytes in the blood," according to the University of Michigan School of Medicine. But what does it do for our health, specifically? According to U of M, "It helps keep the amount of fluid inside and outside of your cells in balance. It also helps maintain proper blood volume, blood pressure, and pH of your body fluids." Chloride accounts for about 55% of the mineral content in seawater.
Next, there's sodium. And although sodium has gotten a bad rap in recent years because of how it contributes to hypertension, some amount of salt is actually necessary and even beneficial for our health. Just ask James DiNicolantonio, PharmD and author of The Salt Fix. In an article written for mbg, he explained, "When our bodies become depleted in salt, the brain seems to react by sensitizing the reward system—and not just the reward system for salt, but the same reward system that drives us to other pleasurable activities." In other words, salt can make us feel satisfied.
Finally, there's magnesium. This mineral is responsible for just under 10% of the mineral content in seawater. Magnesium is affectionately nicknamed nature's "relaxation mineral" for its anti-anxiety and stress-busting properties. In fact, Epsom salt baths are a form of transdermal magnesium therapy and have been used for centuries for anything from wound healing to treating spasms and digestive issues.
Of course, getting these health benefits would rely on these minerals actually absorbing through the skin or being ingested while you're swimming. Still, it could explain why so many of our health woes can be improved by taking a quick dip in the sea.
Additional ways the ocean might benefit our health.
If you want to take full advantage of seawater's healing benefits, make sure the water's cold. On the mindbodygreen podcast, Wim Hoff—also known as the "iceman"—explained how submerging himself in freezing cold water benefited his physical and mental health so much he developed a healing method centered around cold-water therapy. One explanation for this is cold's effect on the vagus nerve, which is central to our body's parasympathetic response, also known as the "rest and digest" part of our nervous system.
At this point it's all mostly speculation, but it does give us that little extra motivation to jump up off our towel and spend some time in the water on our next trip to the beach.