To those of you who have been gardening for years, I salute you! Not only are you making the world a more beautiful place---with your flowers, shrubs, and bushes---but did you know that you are also making your own life a little healthier, even if you are not planting and reaping vegetables? It's true!
We already know that being outside is a mood-booster, helps your brain to function better, and provides rejuvenating fresh air to your lungs. (See my post from a few weeks ago entitled: "What is life?" ) But actually touching the earth reaps even greater health benefits than just being outdoors. In this day and age we are more likely to be touching digital devices (keyboards, phones, iPads, etc.) than the ground.
It's high time for all of us to get low and get a little dirt on our hands. Here's why. First and foremost, the earth helps keep our bodies balanced. It is rich in antioxidants! Did you know this? The earth is a source of antioxidants, just like blueberries, fish, and dark green veggies! Antioxidants help keep our bodies well---they attach to dangerous cancer-causing free radicals. And speaking of free...these antioxidants don't cost a penny. Just kick off your shoes and put your bare feet on the ground. Your body will absorb them from the earth, just like that! (See this article that explains how the earth's bountiful electrons function as antioxidants in our bodies.)
Secondly, the earth has healing power! We are still discovering the rich depths of benefits the ground has to offer. A recent study by Northeastern University revealed an antibiotic strain in a sample of soil that shows potential in the fight against "superbugs" (infections that are resistant to current antibiotic treatments) and even tuberculosis. Scientists are certain that we've only identified a fraction of the natural healing properties of the earth.
On a related note, the earth's bacteria play an important role in helping our bodies develop healthy immune systems. Basically, soil contains all kinds of bacteria with pathogen-fighting power. Did you know that there is evidence that children on farms have less allergies than those in the general population?(Read, or listen to, this recent piece on NPR to find out more.) Some suspect it's because children on a farm are in a much less sterile environment. They play on hay, touch cows, and more. In short, they just plain get dirty! This is the opposite of how we live: enclosed in our homes, schools, and offices.
So, what if you're convinced of the benefits of getting dirty but don't have a garden yourself? Do what this city girl does: go out to the country now and then! Earlier today I went to a farm in nearby Howard Country for strawberry picking. I got my hands dirty and I get to enjoy the fresh-picked sun-warmed fruit for days to come!
How about you? Do you get your hands dirty on a regular basis? If so, tell me what you do and when. Maybe I can drop by and lend a hand!