Who's Up for Some Dirty Talk?
SOIL MICROBES called Mycobacterium vaccae are proven to have a natural antidepressant effect on the brain. I believe this comes from our days of living as hunter-gatherers…it is a very innate and natural act for us to forage around in the dirt, trees and plants looking for and collecting food just as the birds, bunnies and insects do!
A HARVEST HIGH most likely evolved over 200,000 years ago when hunting and gathering was our means of survival. Research suggests that the brain actually releases dopamine when we harvest food from the garden. Dopamine is one of our “feel good” hormones. It allows us to feel pleasure, satisfaction and motivation. A similar response happens when an infant breastfeeds from mom, and both responses encourage our instinct to grow and thrive. This means our primitive brains were originally programmed to crave healthy, fresh food from the soil!
“In the spring, at the end of the day, you should smell like dirt.”
– Margaret Atwood
BLOOD PRESSURE AND STRESS HORMONES are lowered as a result of the above harvest high and release of dopamine.
PROTECTIVE BACTERIA from dirt on your skin can help manage inflammatory skin conditions such as psoriasis, and can even heal wounds.
GARDENING and playing in the dirt in any manner, engages your senses, such as sight, smell, touch and hearing. Research shows that when multiple senses are activated, the brain is more likely to remember things and is better able to solve problems.
THE FARM EFFECT stems from a study published in the June 2012 issue of The Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology shows that Amish children who live on farms have about a 50% reduction in asthma, allergies, and gut-related disorders compared to children who grow up in more sterile environments.
THE HYGIENE HYPOTHESIS also called the Biome Depletion Theory is validated by the above Farm Effect. It states that a lack of early childhood exposure to infectious agents, microorganisms and parasites (all found in dirt) increases our susceptibility to allergic diseases by suppressing the natural development of our immune systems. The universe designed us AND naturally guides us to behaviors to help us thrive.
“The earth laughs in flowers.”
– Ralph Waldo Emmerson
VITAMIN D production is stimulated when we are exposed to full-spectrum light (sunshine). If you are playing in the dirt, this most likely means you are outdoors and soaking up the sunlight as well. Vitamin D is crucial for a variety of cellular functions in our body such as bone and muscle function, absorption of calcium, and its anti-inflammatory, antioxidant and neuroprotective properties are key in supporting our IMMUNE SYSTEM and brain cell activity.
MELATONIN production is also regulated by exposure to sunshine. This hormone is important for timing our circadian rhythms (our body’s 24 hour internal clock) which tells us when we should be sleeping, and sleep is absolutely vital to our immune health. This is when our immune system literally “powers back up” just like recharging our cell phones when the battery is low.
SEROTONIN production is also boosted by exposure to sunlight. This chemical in our brain is responsible for giving us energy, but also helps us to feel positive, calm and focused.
A DECREASED RISK OF DEMENTIA and loneliness as we age are two benefits of gardening according to AARP.
“Science has never drummed up quite as effective a
tranquilizing agent as a sunny spring day.”
– W. Earl Hall