Imagine an activity that improves your gut health, regulates stress responses in your body, encourages the absorption of one of the most important vitamins for your body, gets you more nutrients from your food and supports the health of the earth.
That would be quite an activity, wouldn’t it?
What if I told you that you can do it in your backyard?
That miracle activity is gardening.
Gardening has benefits for the health of our planet and for the health of our bodies.
Let’s talk about a few that are so beneficial, you’ll be running to your local nursery and getting a garden started.
1 While gardening, you can absorb one of the most beneficial vitamins — vitamin D. The very best source of vitamin D is synthesized from the sun. Vitamin D is vitally important to different processes in the body, from supporting a strong immune system to hormone regulation. While gardening outside, you are getting this miracle vitamin without having to exert too much additional effort.
2 Growing your food increases the nutrient value of your food. When you are eating locally grown food, you are getting more nutrients. By eating locally, especially from your backyard, your food is harvested at peak ripeness, meaning that it has been given more time to properly ripen, have the maximum number of nutrients and even taste better.
3 Interaction with the earth’s soil boosts diversity of beneficial microorganisms in your human microbiome. Your microbiome is an array of microorganisms (such as bacteria, fungi and viruses) that live in and on our bodies. These groups of microorganisms are dynamic and change in response to different factors, but your environment is one of them. The more diverse your microbiome is with microorganisms, the better.
Maintaining and feeding your microbiome with a range of fruits, vegetables and interactions with beneficial environments such as soil, can benefit your mental and physical health.
In your gut microbiome, your neurotransmitters are created from a healthy balance of microorganisms that promote mental health.
A diverse microbiome also helps maintain a healthy body composition, a robust immune system and is associated with less disease and increased longevity overall.
These three benefits are just the beginning of what you can get from having, nurturing and eating from your garden. It does not have to be large and overwhelming. Start small with something like an herb garden or maybe even just a tomato plant. You can add to your garden each season, but just starting small will begin to get you the incredible benefits of gardening.
Bri Edwards is a holistic health coach at Healthy Foundations in Dubuque.