Wednesday, 8 May 2013

Of Nature and Numbers

I completed yet another orbit of the sun yesterday and had the day off work (soldering some new Bare Knuckle pups in to my Gordon Smith if you must know).  It was a fantastic blue-sky day and I worked outdoors in the back garden.  My BP lunchtime reading was 131/78 which might just be due to the sunshine - as reported on the BBC website:
  • "The health benefits of exposing skin to sunlight may far outweigh the risk of developing skin cancer, according to scientists.

    Edinburgh University research suggests sunlight helps reduce blood pressure, cutting heart attack and stroke risks and even prolonging life.

    UV rays were found to release a compound that lowers blood pressure.

    Researchers said more studies would be carried out to determine if it is time to reconsider advice on skin exposure.

    Heart disease and stroke linked to high blood pressure are estimated to lead to about 80 times more deaths than those from skin cancer in the UK.

    Dietary vitamin D supplements alone will not be able to compensate for lack of sunlight” [said] Dr Richard Weller [of] Edinburgh University

    Production of the pressure-reducing compound, nitric oxide, is separate from the body's manufacture of vitamin D, which rises after exposure to sunshine."
This is a good example where simply thinking about how early man *might* have lived can give you a good handle on the context of scientific advice of the last 30 years!  Blanket advice to avoid the sun wouldn't match with our ancestral past.  Such an approach might draw criticism of 're-enactment', but only in so far as re-enactment helps us formulate a framework in which to experiment (re-enactment is never the objective here).

I hope to post up on what I've been doing to lower my blood pressure, although I suspect much out it was out of my control.

There are other advantages to working outdoors - not least exposure to the sounds of nature.  The BBC site today carried an interesting piece on birdsong.  Birdsong has been used in a variety of places to great benefit.  Of note was use of a shortened 'Dawn Chorus' to address fear of needles amongst children at Alder Hey Children's Hospital:
  • "The recording was used to calm young patients as they received injections and other treatments, with positive results. "The children find it very calming and it can help them de-stress before undergoing treatments or surgery," says the hospital."
I've touched on this before in my advice to those with their ducks already in a row, where I recommended awaking to birdsong alarms and listening to white noise (actually 'green' noise I guess), of waves crashing on a beach, rainfall and the wind in the trees.

Better still, get out there and experience it first hand.

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