More Complementary & Integrative Healthcare Articles
Gardening and Your Health
Did you know that gardening can be good for your health and can help support your immune system?
Vitamin D is an incredibly important nutrient. It’s needed for hundreds of different functions within your body, including metabolism, bone health, brain function, and balanced hormones.
Although found in small amounts in certain foods, your body makes most of its own vitamin D by utilizing sunlight. In order to keep getting enough of this essential vitamin, your skin needs exposure to sunshine on a regular basis.
That’s what makes gardening a great “source” of vitamin D. You get exposed to sunlight while working on garden tasks, and your body can manufacture the vitamin D it needs.
This is especially important because an often-overlooked aspect of vitamin D is its role in strengthening your immune system.
The “sunshine vitamin” is critically involved in the overall function of your immune system. It’s needed for your body to correctly identify and neutralize threats, helping to ward off infection.
In fact, research indicates that having low levels of vitamin D increases your chances of getting bacterial or viral infections, like the flu, as well as more serious diseases like multiple sclerosis, diabetes, and certain types of cancer.
To get the most out of sunlight while gardening, most experts recommend a bare minimum of 15 minutes of sun exposure (without sunscreen) a day. Some put the number at 30-40 minutes a day to give your body more time to produce enough vitamin D.
Soil-based organisms (also called soil-based probiotics) are beneficial bacteria naturally present in the soil. The variety of these bacteria varies based on things like location and soil health.
For a long time, humans were regularly exposed to these bacteria through farming, gathering, and eating off the land. Today, a lot of our food is made in factories or scrubbed clean (and sometimes irradiated) so that no probiotics remain.
This isn’t a good thing because some researchers believe that probiotics from the soil have some special benefits for human health.
Soil bacteria get exposed to harsh conditions all the time: heat, cold, rain, snow, etc. This causes many of them to form spores that can survive stomach acid and have a better chance of colonizing the digestive tract instead of passing through.
Soil-based probiotics like Bacillus coagulans and B. subtilis have also demonstrated many beneficial properties, including improving gut health, immune function, and inflammation levels.