Can Digging in the Dirt Make You Happy?
I was thrilled to work on a story for Modern Farmer about the link between dirt and well-being. There’s some very interesting research looking at the benefits of microbes in the environment on human health. Here’s an excerpt:
The psychological benefit of nature has been well documented. When it comes to being happy or not, many studies show that psychiatric problems are more common in urban than in rural communities. That makes Lowry’s and Rook’s research interesting, as it gives us a better understanding of exactly why being outside, in a garden or on a farm, makes us feel good.
“People usually assume that the health benefits of exposure to green space are due to exercise. In fact two large studies now demonstrate that although exercise is definitely good for you, it does not explain the beneficial effect of green space,” says Rook. “Contact with microbial biodiversity is looking like the most probable explanation for the green space effect.”
Just like we’re becoming more and more aware of the benefits of foods with microbes (think: fermented foods with probiotics), being around a lot of different microbes from the earth and animals is good for us too. In other words, sterile environments that are too clean aren’t so great for you.
I was even more excited to see that the piece got picked up and discussed by the New York Times.
Now, on to finding a plot of land to get my hands dirty.
Image: jenny downing