Longevity Articles

Who's Up for Some Dirty Talk?

Who's Up for Some Dirty Talk?

Spring is nature’s way of saying, ‘Let’s Party’”

Robin Williams


My most vivid memories as a little girl growing up in the desert of southeastern Arizona and southwestern New Mexico are ALL outdoors. Many of them, literally playing in the dirt in one form or another. I couldn’t wait to get dressed and get outside most days, and that is usually where I stayed until dark. As odd as it may sound, I always felt drawn to be as close as I could to the dirt...to the earth. I can remember sitting in the dirt playing for hours with my friends or siblings like it was the most comfortable place in the world. I had no desire to be anywhere else.


To this day, there is nothing as lovely to me as the smell of freshly wet dirt after a desert rain. It smells clean and alive to me, a bit exciting even. A nice rain in the desert can be rare some years, so it was always a very special and welcome event. Little did I know just how special and HOW IMPORTANT this little “rinsing of the dirt” event really was.


There is something magical (a lot of things actually) about springtime. Everywhere you look there is new life. Flowers are boldly displaying their beautiful colors, the trees are budding new leaves and blossoms while the grass is emerging bright green. Insects, birds, bunnies and butterflies are all busying themselves within the trees, bushes and dirt. One can’t help but be ENERGIZED by all the activity abuzz.


As we have evolved and our shelter has become more advanced, safe and permanent, we spend much more time indoors. Because of this, many people have lost the innate connection we have to the earth and the important role it plays in our health and wellbeing.


  • 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


So as you feel drawn to the outdoors and have the desire to stick your hands and feet in the dirt, know that you are following your instincts. We are drawn to dig around in the dirt to support not only our health and wellbeing, but to grow and thrive. Physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually! Just as I was (and still am) drawn to do so.


Take the time to listen to what your body is telling you. It will ALWAYS tell you what you need. This is how we have been designed for thousands and thousands of years. Just like the birds, bees, bunnies, trees and plants, everything we need to be healthy, happy and strong, exists in nature.


Take full advantage of the change of season and get outside as much as you can, let your systems be regulated as you join in the excitement of spring emerging all around you. As you feel the sun warm on your skin, smell the blooms, see all of the beautiful colors popping out, and feel the energy of new life EVERYWHERE, know that DIRT, the earth being warmed is the source of this entire process.


The future belongs to the few of us still willing to get our hands dirty.










Older post Newer post