Nature & It’s Effect On The Microbiome
Nature & The Microbiome
Can Our Connection to the Natural World Shape Our Microbiome?
Can urbanised lifestyles, exposure to pollution, and the consumption of nutrient-depleted and synthetic foods contribute to dysbiotic health patterns? These are just some of the questions scientists are beginning to explore as they expand their understanding of the environment-microbiome health axis and examine what happens inside the body when humans are disconnected from their natural surroundings.
Many people may suggest that our genetics are to answer for when it comes to our microbial health, however for example, one study estimates that approximately 22-36% of the interpersonal microbiome variability is associated with environmental factors and only 1.9-9% with genetics.
So with this evidence we can suggest that a more natural, rich environment will positively impact our microbiome. Science has shown that nature is the answer.
Growing Up Green
Recent research suggests that growing up in microbe-rich environments, such as, living in the country side or growing up on a traditional farm, may have protective health effects on children. The correlation between a place and a persons microbiota is undeniable. When we come to evaluating the effects of nature related soil exposure on gut microbial diversity, in children, this suggests that exposure to natural environments has the potential to increase gut microbiota diversity in even a short period of time. An individual’s proximity to green spaces and their associated microbiota there fore has a direct impact on our immune system and may play a role in preventing diseases. As a child’s microbiome develops, especially as it forms into a more mature, adult like collection by age 3-5, during this time, paying attention to quality nature related exposure, can be a powerful positive influence on a microbiome’s development. However, these beneficial health effects may be minimised if exposure becomes more urbanised.
It’s Never To Late To Get Out There
Even though are microbiome begins to set its foundations is early life, Research has shown that gut bacteria can be manipulated in a matter of days. Through enriching our lives with exposure to beneficial bacteria and living a life that supports our microbiome, we can reconfigure our relationship to microbial health and begin to act accordingly in order to lay beautiful foundations for optimal health and wellbeing.
Why gardening is good for your gut
Why not begin a new activity, that benefits your microbiome? Gardening is having a real moment in the health and wellbeing space and for good reason. Researchers have discovered that good gut health starts with the soil – and that’s why gardening is good for you.
Here are gardening’s top three microbiome healthy benefits of the uplifting practice of soil cultivation.
1. Exposure to friendly microbes in the soil. Regular exposure to soil-based microorganisms through lifestyle choices—such as gardening, spending time in nature, provides significant benefits.
2. A good dose of vitamin D. Time in the sun allows our bodies to synthesize vitamin D. The “sunshine” vitamin is an essential nutrient for absorbing calcium in our food and supporting the body’s immune response, among many other things. Studies have also demonstrated that vitamin D deficiency can even lead to an imbalance between different types of flora in the gut microbiome.
3. Access to fresh, prebiotic-rich vegetables. By gardening and growing, access to fibre rich foods becomes a great by-product of gardening. Fruits and vegetables, contain plenty of pre biotic fibre, which supports a healthy microbiome.
Putting It All Together
Today, over half the world’s population lives in an urban setting. How does this shape and contribute to overall health? Are we questioning what effects this will have on our collective microbial health? If not I believe we should start.
It begins with a change to the relationship of which we have with nature. By appreciating its powerful potential impact, we can incorporate integration of nature-based interventions in therapeutic settings, in order to change the trajectory of disease. As our understanding of the connection between humans, their microbes, and the environment continues to evolve, we may begin to see all life through a holistic and symbiotic perspective and learn to integrate strategies that honour the interconnectedness of all things.
This post was written by Amelia Crossley