It’s a beautiful summer morning, the sun is breaking through the mist that hovers over the farm fields. It’s early, and there’s a million and one things you could do, but you take some deep breaths, put on your running shoes and briskly hit the road. It’s easy at first but as you reach the hill, your muscles strain a bit more. You hear the sound of your own breathing as your heart bounds in your chest. Down the hill you go, cheeks flushed. You feel invigorated, electrified as your blood takes the oxygen to every cell in your body.
There are many ways to get pure, fresh air into our bodies, and exercise is one of the best. With every breath we take a miracle happens. We breathe oxygen into our lungs and breathe out carbon dioxide. This amazing breath by breath gas exchange happens in the capillaries (tiny blood vessels) that cover the alveoli (or little air sacs) in our lungs. The waste gets transferred from the veins into the lungs and we breathe it out. We breathe in the oxygen (02) and our arteries carry the oxygen rich blood our whole body.
But what happens if we’re not getting the pure air you need, either due to poor air quality or decreased lung capacity? Well, we would experience fatigue and maybe even lethargy. If our brain cells are hungry for oxygen we might get headaches. If our stomach cells are deprived of oxygen, nausea would result as we would have a decreased production of acids to digest our food.1
Pure air to the cells is essential in order for every part of the human body to work well. Some of us might ask, “What can I do about that? What things could deprive my cells of oxygen?” Well, lack of exercise is a big one because our heart needs to be worked in order to pump harder and increase the circulation of oxygen to our whole body.
Do you find yourself hunched forward or slumped over sometimes? This greatly reduces our lungs’ capacity to take in air. Tight clothing is another way in which we can impede our ability to get full inspiration of air. It also prevents our lungs from getting rid of sufficient amounts of waste matter in the form of carbon dioxide(C02). As was written in The Health Reformer, in 1871,“in order for the lungs to do the work assigned, they must be left free, without the slightest compression” (The Health Reformer, November 1871; HL 171.7). If we find ourselves using just our upper chest muscles when breathing, this message is for us. The abdominal muscles were designed to aid the lungs in their action.
Dehydration can also keep us fom getting good 02 to our cells. How you say? Well our red blood cells should look like little life rafts for carrying oxygen throughout our body. If they are dehydrated like the left one in the diagram, they cannot pick up and carry oxygen effectively.
Another big factor which affects how well our cells are oxygenated is the quality of the air we breathe. There are two types of air — negatively charged air (good air) and positively charged air (positively nasty).
In order to have negatively charged air, three things are required: 1) oxygen, 2) moisture, and 3) movement. If the air is lacking movement, mold will result. Thunderstorms give off negative ions and so do rays of sunlight, waterfalls, and ocean waves. Much of the oxygen content of this negatively charged air comes from trees, especially from pine and fir trees. Ellen White writes, “Light was given that there is health in the fragrance of the pine, the cedar and the fir (7T 76-79). Barbara O’Neill, and experienced and authoritative Seventh-day Adventist naturopath, gives an interesting example of this in the positively charged air we feel when a thunderstorm is about to let loose, the air just feels “heavy.” After the storm passes, the air feels light and fresh again.
And where do we find negative ions? Not in the concrete jungle but in the country. If we don’t live in the country, we should try to get out to parks with plenty of trees. Studies have shown that some children with disabilities have a marked improvement in their functioning when exposed to negative ions. These ions have been shown to increase serotonin levels in the brain, and to lower our resting heart rate and body temperature. It’s also interesting to note that bacteria have a harder time thriving in negatively charged air.2 Hello country living!
Contrary to this is good air is air that’s primarily full of positive ions. It contains more C02 than 02. We find this bad air in the cities, because there are less forests, an overabundance of people crowded together breathing out carbon monoxide, and many breathing in carbon monoxide as well, not to mention the air pollution and mold found in the cities, and poorly ventilated spaces.
So if you want to have a miracle elixir, breathe in some pure air. Inspiration tells us it’s the free blessing of heaven, calculated to electrify the whole system (1T 70). Interesting choice of words — “electrify.” The Lord well knew the benefit of negative ions for our bodies when He gave Ellen White that counsel. Even back in the 1800’s she was given counsel about the benefits of deep breathing, using our abdominal muscles to breathe well.
“The stomach, liver, lungs, and brain are suffering for want of deep, full inspirations of air which would electrify the blood and impart to it a bright, lively, colour and which alone can keep it pure, and give tone and vigor to every part of the living machinery.”
At a time where there was so much superstition about dying from night air or winter air, she went against the grain, and said, as long as we’re dressed for it, to open our windows at night, and even in the winter. Here’s another beautiful quote from the pen of inspiration:
“Air, the precious boon of heaven, which all may have, will bless you with its invigorating influence if you will not refuse its influence. Welcome it, cultivate a love for it, and it will prove a precious soother of the nerves…The influence of pure, fresh air is to cause the blood to circulate healthfully through the system. It refreshes the body and tends to render it strong and healthy, while at the same time its influence is decidedly felt upon the mind, imparting a degree of composure and serenity. It excites the appetite and renders the digestion of food more perfect, and induces sound sweet sleep.”
Who wouldn’t want sweet sleep? With such a precious and free gift, the Lord asks, “Why will you suffer? Do you want to be made whole?” It’s really that simple. There are so many sickly and hurting souls who do not know the Lord yet. If someone reaches out to us and tells us of their suffering, be it spiritual, physical, or mental, and everyone knows someone, we have the answer!
“….He giveth to all life, and breath, and all things.”