The Gut Health & Nature Connection: 5 Ways to Improve Your Biome By Getting Outside

Written By


Expert Reviewed By

Dr. Lauryn Lax, OTD, MS

Dr. Lauryn, OTD, MS is a doctor of occupational therapy, clinical nutritionists and functional medicine expert with 25 years of clinical and personal experience in healing from complex chronic health issues and helping others do the same.

Improve Your Biome - Woman Enjoying The Beauty Of Nature

Want to improve your biome and gut health? Move over probiotics!

Fresh air and sunshine do a gut microbiome good.

Your Gut Bugs Need Fresh Air & Natural Light

Humans evolved in the great outdoors.

Today, we live in the complete opposite—spending 22-23 hours of our day stuck inside, breathing in polluted air  from homes full of chemicals, molds, trapped air, and off-gas chemicals from paints, upholstery and furniture. The concentrations of these air pollutants may be two-and-a-half times higher indoors than outdoors.

Our natural circadian rhythms are also altered too much exposure to blue light on our screens, light at night and not enough exposure to natural light during the day.

This lifestyle automatically provokes dysbiosis.

This is perhaps one reason explaining why studies of hunter-gatherers who eat completely different diets still have the same health outcomes: Practically no disease. Regardless of if you were part of the Hazda tribe and ate a super high carb diet with over 100-150 grams of fiber daily or an Eskimo who survived on a ketogenic, high fat diet…how could no ill health conditions arise?

Researchers speculate sunshine has something to do with it.

Forrest Bathing 101

The impacts of light radiation and air quality is not usually considered in most gut microbiome education—where probiotics or kombucha leads the way… but several studies point to the fact that these two variables naturally alter the biome—for the better—depending on what species you need more of…and what you need less of.

“Forrest bathing” is a term being used more and more. Simply put the concept of forrest bathing goes that “in nature, we take in beneficial substances when we breathe in forest air from three major inhaled factors — beneficial bacteria, plant-derived essential oils, and negatively-charged ions.”

Good bacteria surrounds us, and through its interactions with our bodies — particularly our own gut-dwelling bacteria — we get a boost of gut love. Plant oils also fight off harmful microorganisms—which is why “toxic” mold spores are really only found indoors from water damaged buildings.

As for negative ions—these are odorless, tasteless, and invisible molecules that we inhale in abundance in certain environments. Think mountains, waterfalls, and beaches. Once they reach our bloodstream, negative ions are believed to produce biochemical reactions that increase levels of the mood chemical serotonin, helping to alleviate anxiety, relieve stress, and boost our daytime energy. 

The bottom line: Nature does a body good.

5 Ways to Improve Your Biome (without Supplements)

Some simple, but effective, tactics to “get grounded” and back to nature include:

#1. Soak Up Natural Light During the Day & Candle Down at Night.

Turn off bright, artificial indoor lights when you can help it, and use natural window light and soft lamp light. We also talked about this in our points on sleep—limit artificial light at night. Opt for lamp, candle and soft lighting in the evening hours, and use blue blocking orange tinted glasses if you look at screens. Not only does this help with circadian balance, but it also boosts Vitamin D—a hormone, not a vitamin— that is necessary for strong bones and nutrient absorption, as well as acts like a “light switch” in your body, turning on or off genes and boosting your immune system, digestive system and endocrine system. Spending more time outside in the sun is the number one way to naturally boost your levels of Vitamin D. If your levels are below 30-60, then short-term supplementation with 5000 IU one to two times per day (for no longer than 8 weeks) may be helpful.

#2. Sungaze

Speaking of natural light, if you’re having trouble sleeping at night—it may be due to lack of sun light during the day—not just too much bluelight You need at least 15-30 minutes of outdoor exposure to light for proper melatonin production—your sleepy hormone that helps you sleep at night. Try exposing yourself to bright light first thing in the morning by stepping outside and looking at the sun—or towards it (even with your eyes closed).

#3. Limit Technology & EMF Exposure as Much as Possible.

Wi-fi and electronics are not going anywhere, but simple mindfulness can help prevent perpetuating distrupted cortisol levels and HPA Axis function. Consider turning off the wifi at night and put your phone in airplane mode as much as possible. You can even get an EMF meter to make sure there are no electrical fields around your bed as you sleep.

#4. Air Purifier & Fresh Air

Invest in an air purifier, like IQ Air’s Health Pro Plus, with HEPA and/or charcoal features as well that is capable of removing ultrafine particles below 0.1 microns, such as mold, dust, pet dander, volatile organic compounds, and even viruses from the air. Also open the windows frequently often to allow fresh air in as much as possible. Do this to improve your biome effectively.

#5. “Earth

Lastly, earthing is exactly what it sounds like— direct physical contact with the vast supply of electrons on the surface of the Earth.

Ever since the invention of shoes, houses, flooring, and elevated beds, we’ve lost our connection with the earth and its electrical field. Our early ancestors were connected 24/7.The theory behind earthing is that we are bioelectrical beings living on an electrical planet. Our bodies operate electrically; All of our cells transmit multiple frequencies that run our heart, immune system, muscles, and nervous system, and when we come into touch with our “power source” (the earth), science shows there is a transfer from the Earth’s electrons in the ground to the body, helping us feel protected, energized, and we feel better overall. For example, study of subjects with complaints of sleep dysfunction, high cortisol levels, pain, and stress showed that after 8 weeks of grounding during sleep (sleeping on a flat mattress pad on the floor) all participants reported waking up fewer times at night and less stress).

How to earth in your every day life? Simply get outside and get barefoot. Even getting barefoot indoors has benefits—both for cleaner floors and energy in your body.

Want to get tips on how to improve your biome or you have other questions? Contact our virtual clinic today to make an appointment with Dr. Lauryn and get help now.

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