Isn’t there a certain childhood nostalgia that comes from the thought of playing in the dirt, hands covered in a layer of soil, creating imaginary worlds or mud pies? But as we grow up, our contact with dirt often diminishes, and with it, we may be missing out on some remarkable health benefits. There’s a very profound and scientifically backed message hidden in the innocent saying: “Dirt doesn’t hurt.”
Soil-based organisms ( SBOs) support gut health and immune response.
In each teaspoon of soil, there lies a microcosmic world teeming with nearly one billion beneficial microbes! This expansive universe of microscopic life offers a plethora of potential health benefits. A study involving animals has presented compelling evidence that exposure to soil has the capacity to modify gut microbiota, our own internal ecosystem of microbes. These modifications, it turns out, result in anti-inflammatory effects and boost the immune system.
In the plant world, SBOs help protect plants grow. Without their protection, plants become malnourished and are susceptible to disease or contamination by fungi, yeasts, molds, and candida. Just as plants grow best in healthy soil with highly active microorganisms, you too, need these organisms to live a long, healthy life.
Many studies suggest that their common denominator is that they link SBOs to successfully treating a wide variety of health benefits:
- irritable bowel syndrome
- ulcerative colitis
- nutrient deficiencies
- autoimmune and inflammatory diseases
- bacterial and viral infections
SBOs nourish cells in the colon and liver and actually create new compounds, such as B vitamins, vitamin K2, antioxidants and enzymes. SBOs also can kill bad bacteria that can bind to the gut wall. They have been shown to bind to toxins and extract them from the body.
Contrary to popular belief, the pursuit of a hyper-sanitized environment may be more harmful than beneficial. Rather than shielding us from harm, these sterile environments potentially decrease the diversity of our gut microbes, thus weakening our resistance to various diseases. This is yet another compelling argument for us to roll up our sleeves, step outside, and embrace the dirt beneath our feet.
Improve your Immunity: Getting your hands dirty – The Wonders of Soil
Going beyond mere soil, the exposure to a variety of natural environments, particularly those found in rural areas, plays a vital role in boosting microbial diversity. This, in turn, contributes to a lower risk of inflammatory diseases. Epidemiological studies have revealed that allergies are less prevalent among individuals residing in rural regions. Their immune systems have developed a heightened tolerance, a testament to the immune-strengthening power of nature.
So, how can we incorporate more ‘dirt time’ into our everyday life?
For city dwellers who may feel disconnected from nature, consider setting a goal to visit a natural area multiple times a week. Whether it’s a lush park, a serene trail, or a tranquil beach, use this opportunity to immerse yourself in the bountiful gifts of nature. Utilize this time for physical activity, quiet reflection, or even as a cherished weekend activity to bond with family and friends… Put those selected dates in your diary!
Another way to embrace nature is to transfer some of your indoor activities outdoors. How about setting out a picnic blanket for lunch in the park, catching up on work under the cool shade of a tree, or swapping your indoor workout for an invigorating walk outdoors? The simple act of breathing in the fresh air, feeling the breeze, and touching the earth beneath can be incredibly beneficial.
Finally, why not literally ‘dig in the dirt’? Even if you have no intentions of becoming a horticultural enthusiast, potting a few plants on your porch or volunteering at a local community garden can significantly enhance your exposure to soil microbes. And, if you’re a parent, encouraging your children to play in the dirt could be one of the healthiest things you could do for them. Who knows, you might even find yourself reliving your childhood, making mud pies alongside them!
Only about 4 years ago, my partner and I decided to grow a little – vegetables, in our small garden. Apart from flowers, we are now officially growing tomatoes, peppers, chillies, radishes, beans and fresh salads. It is a tiny comparison what my parents grow but, it gives us a great pleasure.
Getting your hands dirty
So why not, you try getting your hands dirty and explore endless possibility of wonder of soil. It’s an easy, affordable, and enjoyable way to improve your immune system, and your overall health. After all, healthy gut = heathy brain, right?! More about Brain-Gut connection in another blog.
So let’s embrace the dirt, cherish our connection with the earth, and start unearthing the health benefits of soil.
Till next time,
Julia – the healthy living girl… that would explore every possibility when it comes to health.