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Ready, Set, Spring into Garden Mode!

Spring has sprung and what a perfect time to introduce children to the wonders of gardening!  In fact, studies have shown when children are exposed to healthy soil bacteria, it helps promote the immune system, allowing the body to better identify threats from non threats.

Before ‘digging’ deeper into this topic (with more reasons to take up gardening this spring), here are a few starters:

  • Healthy soil exposure improves the gut microbiome which enhances all avenues of health
  • Healthy soil exposure is a natural anti-depressant and mood enhancer
  • Little ones: Teaches them how to grow food, igniting an interest in cooking
  • Little ones: Helps establish and diversify gut microbes while the microbiome is developing

In many ways, the state of our gut microbiome calls the shots. It sits at the root of human health; affecting how we feel, the way we fight off illness, our digestion as well as gut-brain axis communication, and plays a role in disease.  Research continues to take a deep dive into this topic, as you can tell from the oversupply of probiotic supplements!

The human gut microbiome has may names such as:  ‘second brain’, ‘last organ’ and ‘inner garden.’ This probably isn’t news to all, but like the human gut, soil has its own complex microbiome.  Soil acts like the “gut” of plant species or the digestive system of plants.   

Did you know?  There are more healthy microbes in a teaspoon of soil than there are people on earth!   Soil microbes play a key role in determining the nutrient content of our food which we ingest and benefit from.  Basically, the soil microbiome fuels our human gut microbiome.  Eating more food grown in healthy soil, such as in your own garden or from a local market without pesticides that kill the helpful diverse soil microbes, will allow your gut to reap a multitude of benefits!  Functional similarities exist between the soil and the human intestine.

How about that! There is more than one reason to stop and smell the roses…. or cherry blossoms!

Gardening or just being outside in nature does great things for our gut (as long as you don’t struggle with seasonal allergies).  Evidence reveals that healthy soil and gardening offers positive rewards to the human gut microbiome, providing beneficial gut microorganisms. 

Playing soccer in the grass, having a picnic, or going for trail walks amongst the trees while breathing the microbe filled air, exposes you to diverse beneficial bacteria that helps us to thrive. 

Fun facts summary on the benefits of healthy soil:

  • Daily skin contact with gardening and soil positively modifies the gut microbes.
  • Higher gut diversity = better health
  • Studies have shown that gardeners’ gut microbes became more diverse as the gardening season progressed along with immune responses due to the exposure to the microbes in soil.
  • The richest source of healthy bacteria is soil. 
  • Gardening has been shown to reduce risk of dementia being a type of therapy.
  • There are antidepressant microbes in soil: A bacterium in the soil, called mycobacterium vaccae has been found to trigger the release of serotonin which improves mood and boosts brain function.
  • Multitude of benefits for children.

Ways to experience the benefits without a back yard: 

  • Herbs on windowsill
  • Vertical garden on the wall
  • Potted indoor plants
  • Head out for more trail walks surrounded by trees
  • Plan more picnics in the grass – microbes in the grass, soil and air colonize your body

Last Thought for Parents or Gift Searchers! 

Check out “Outdoor Mud kitchen’s” for kids!  This is a great way to play for hours while increasing the diversity of friendly bacteria through exposure to diverse microbes.  This also teaches through sensory play while building imagination.

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