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Bare facts on blood pressure
It’s possible there are more benefits from nudism than readily meet the eye. Results of a recent American Heart Assn. study indicate that residents of a Maryland nudist camp have a much lower incidence of high blood pressure than occurs among the general population.

SourcePopular Mechanics, Volume 148, No 6 (Dec 1977) p. 30

Project 365 #134: 140511 Under Pressure! By comedy_nose | Flickr - Photo Sharing!

Project 365 #134: 140511 Under Pressure! By comedy_nose | Flickr - Photo Sharing!

ImageProject 365 #134: 140511 Under Pressure! | Flickr – Photo Sharing! (under Creative Commons license)

All the beneficial therapeutic effects, and also all that is essential in the physical and mental control of the passions, as advocated by the nudists, can be attained by familiarity with the sight of the exposed body while clad only in short trunks, such as men wear at most of the bathing beaches, but without the exposure of the sex organs themselves. Hence there is no adequate excuse for catering to exhibitionism through complete nudism.

Source: Health hints for four-fold health: for the purification and health of the body, mind and emotions by Frank Homer Curtiss (Order of Christian Mystics, 1938, p.13)

At least, ‘No-Pants Days’ are excusable.

No-Pants Day in Paris 2009 By Tonio Vega | Flickr - Photo Sharing!

No-Pants Day in Paris 2009 By Tonio Vega | Flickr - Photo Sharing!

Image: No-Pants Day Paris : Culotte & Slip triomphaux ! 16 | Flickr – Photo Sharing! (under Creative Commons license)

Is there anything common between naturism and thermodynamics? Maren Möhring, the author of Working Out the Body’s Boundaries: Physiological, Aesthetic, and Psychic Dimensions of the Skin in German Nudism, 1890-1930 (in Body parts: critical explorations in corporeality, edited by Christopher E. Forth, Ivan Crozier, p. 229-246), argues in favor of the existence of close links between naturism (at least, German naturism) and what she calls thermodynamic theories of energy. Referring to The Human Motor by Anson Rabinbach and multiple naturist sources, she affirms that in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries the body

was conceptualized as a thermodynamic machine haunted continuously by the threat of exhaustion. Within a thermodynamic universe fixated on energy conservation, the importance of the skin was based on its capacity to absorb the rays of the sun and thus to energize the body. The nudists believed that the “electricity of the sun,” the “beneficial, invigorating and refreshing ultraviolet rays,” would restore the body`s energy supply. It has not yet been noticed in the literature on nudism that society‘s growing acceptance of sunbathing might be connected to this energetic imperative.

Dr. Maren Möhring asserts that nudists considered not only sun-bathing, but also “artificial” electric light baths, and even X-rays (X-rays bath? I don’t think that someone tried it) as healthy and revitalizing for the body. Even sunburn was not able to frighten nudists of that time. It was considered a “health enforcing” phenomenon because it “hardened the skin” and allowed new skin to emerge after the burned skin had peeled away. From that point of view even the tiniest piece of clothing could disturb this energizing process, so the slogan: “Fight the bathing trunks! Fight any kind of bathing costume!” was put forward.

Well, it was interesting to read about the modern scientization of the body, but I could not find in the article any assumptions (accepted by early nudists) about the physical mechanism that could be behind the above-mentioned thermodynamical skin’s capacity to absorb the rays of the sun and to revitalize the body. The simple fact that skin can hardly be considered as the principal organ responsible for power supply of the human body makes this thermodynamical theory hanging in midair. I think that even the pioneers of nudism didn’t underestimate the importance of nutrition and didn’t try to live on sun rays.

Empty sea by jonathan charles photo | Flickr - Photo Sharing!

Empty sea by jonathan charles photo | Flickr - Photo Sharing!

What was the greatest threat for the civilized world in the 1930s? You would be mistaken, if you think about nazism. Actually, it was nudism, at least for someone.

Three hundred thousand men, women, and children, in America alone, are nudists,’ informs Edwin Teale in the article which appeared in the POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY, February, 1938 (pp. 70-71, 126). The author of the article, entitled Science studies the Nudists, points out that the followers of the “back-to-Eden” cult report that, during one ten-month period, members increased at the rate of 10,000 a month. And now America is facing as many as 400 camps, scattered from coast to coast maintained by the faddists for nude sun bathing.

Science studies the Nudists

Science studies the Nudists

The author presumably decided to cut the ground from under the nudist movement and asked: ‘Does nakedness really benefit health? Are the claims of the nudists justified?’ Then he slightly reformulated the question: ‘Can our bodies, if given a chance, inure themselves to cold and inclement weather?’ It was implied that the enthusiasts of the new cult, beyond all doubt, would give a positive answer.

Fortunately, two New York research workers, Dr. Eugene F. DuBois and Dr. James D. Hardy, were already able to give a real scientific answer to the question. In the 1930s they have concluded a long series of tests at the Russell Sage Institute of Pathology to determine how the body regulates its temperature. These heroic men of science spent hours, with clothes removed, sealed in the copper vault of a supersensitive, $10,000 heat-measuring chamber called a clinical calorimeter. Edwin Teale was deeply impressed by this immense apparatus running ice water and high-resistance electric wires balance heat and cold, at the will of an operator. Here is an extract from his article:

During the DuBois-Hardy tests, the scientists have tackled such problems as how the nude body reacts to different temperatures, how efficient human flesh is as an insulating medium, when shivering begins, and whether a fat man can withstand cold better than a thin one. They remained nude in the sealed chamber of the calorimeter at temperatures that ranged from ninety-six to seventy-two degrees Fahrenheit.

The experimentalists accumulated data and reported results:

1. Human flesh is as efficient as an insulating medium against cold as is paper, leather, asbestos, or cork.
2. There is only a small difference between fat and thin persons in their ability to withstand cold for long periods.
3. A quiet subject, without the protection of clothing, will begin to shiver at a surprisingly high temperature, eighty-three degrees Fahrenheit (28° Celsius), approximately ten degrees higher than the average room temperature in a furnace-heated home.

The researchers thus provided a scientific basis for judging some of the claims of nudism.

Without the protection of clothing, the motionless human system is constitutionally unfitted to cope with cold. Only in lands where the temperature never drops below eighty-three degrees, can nudists live in comfort.

For physical reasons, if for no others, man seems destined to continue as the animal that wears clothes,” concluded the author of the article from the 1930s. Nudism was doomed. And who would disagree with that?

Health and Joy

Health and Joy

One small article on ScienceNews (published online yesterday, Thursday, October 22nd, 2009) summarizes all you should know about fat in the light of recent scientific advances.

First. Women and men tend to carry fat in different parts of their bodies: men inside the abdomen near their organs, women in a concentrated layer directly under their skin (in scientific terminology used in an article, in their butts). When women hit menopause, their fat relocates to their bellies.

Second.  Fat could be healthier or dangerous. Belly fat cells (i.e. men’s) go directly into internal organs like the liver and can inflame the organs. Hormones from subcutaneous fat (common to women) go into the bloodstream, where they do less harm.

Third. Male and female … rats have the same fat distribution patterns as humans and can be used as guinea-pigs in scientific research on fat.

Then. Post-menopausal women and men lack a molecule called estrogen receptor alpha that grabs on to estrogen. The studies of human fat cells suggested that when estrogen binds to ER-alpha, the cell is more able to break down fat. Women have more ER-alpha in their bellies than men do and that keeps fat away from that fat depot (The researchers mentioned fat depot at least twice in a small article. I think, they’ve invented a new scientific term.)

The main conclusion. Even in males, estrogen is important for marking the fat tissue to be relatively healthy.

Your belly is putting you at greater health risk. The fat in the butts (forgive me this scientific term) is healthy.

1940 RETOUCHED POSTCARD,,,,,, by twittey on deviantart

1940 RETOUCHED POSTCARD,,,,,, by twittey on deviantart