Growing Great Gardens Gives Grand Gains
As the world changes and there are disruptions in the supply chain, many have considered growing a garden. There is no right or wrong way. I have patients who have “tower gardens” that use very little space on their patios, or even in their apartments. Others I know have full farms with fruit and vegetables growing over many acres. Your garden could be in pots on your balcony, or on a community garden plot in the city. No matter what you do, this is one activity that will benefit your health in so many ways.
Gardening for Exercise
The larger the garden, the more work it takes. I don’t know about you, but I’m not a treadmill person. I cannot see my efforts wasted so much as running and going nowhere. If I’m going to use muscles, I want to see some benefits! Gardening is a great way to use muscles. Digging, moving dirt, bringing in topsoil, mulching, building boxes, raking, hoeing, weeding, all help to build muscle and improve blood flow. Exercise is so important for health and creating and maintaining a garden can be a wonderful way to provide that exercise.
Gardening for Sunshine
Being out in your garden on a sunny day is more than just joyful, it is healthy. Regular sunshine has many benefits for the body including increased energy and better sleep.
- The sun regulates your circadian rhythm, keeping you awake during the day, and helping you sleep at night.
- Sunlight increases serotonin which prevents anxiety and depression, allowing relaxation and good sleep.
- The sunlight on the skin in the infrared spectrum warms you, but also turns on proteins in your cells that make energy.
- The UV light also makes vitamin D. Studies show that only 30 minutes in the sun can make up to 10,000 IU in dark-skinned people, and 50,000 IU of vitamin D in light-skinned people. This stimulates the immune system, which is why colds and flus happen in the winter, instead of the summer.
The sun keeps us healthy. Working outdoors in your garden gives you all the benefits of sunshine.
Gardening is Grounding
Also known as “earthing,” grounding is getting your body to touch the earth. Walking barefoot, lying in the grass, walking through a forest, or digging with your hands in the dirt all allow a connection with the earth.
An electrical circuit requires a ground wire to prevent the build-up of electricity in your devices from shocking people. The human organism also runs on “electricity” or positive ions. Over time negative ions build up and disrupt the normal flow of energy. Grounding releases the negative ions and restores the flow of energy. Studies show two benefits of grounding:
- The circadian rhythm becomes regular, and cortisol levels become normal. Multiple studies show that camping, being out in nature, or gardening can lower stress hormone levels.
- Improves circulation in the body.
There are a lot of issues related to circadian rhythm and circulation. A good circadian rhythm keeps the adrenal glands functioning for energy and longevity. Fibromyalgia, arthritis, and back pain are mostly related to blood flow. Regularly working in your garden, getting your hands in the dirt, can relieve pain, and improve function. Periodic grounding is good for your immune system, preventing many kinds of illnesses.
Gardening for Probiotics
The soil holds a plethora of microbiological benefits. The organisms in the soil are good for us in many ways. We are often told things are “dirty” and must be cleaned. We wash the dirt off our hands and food before eating. While washing off the chemicals sprayed on the food is a good idea, the bacteria, and fungi, and even viruses, are actually good for us.
There are bacteria in the soil that increase serotonin and make people happy. Those who have more exposure to soil bacteria as children have less autoimmune problems, allergies, and asthma. The immune system functions better with good bacteria growing in the intestines. If someone has little exposure as a child, they can benefit from more exposure as an adult. The key is to get a lot of different bacteria. The bacteria grow in your colon from food, like “prebiotic” fiber, from the fruit and vegetables in your garden. Thus, a garden is a perfect mix of prebiotics and probiotics to maintain a healthy gut – and a healthy brain.