The Health Benefits of Connecting with Nature

nature walk


Did you know that connecting with nature on a daily basis can boost your health? We not only get essential nutrients in our food from nature but it also nourishes us on a much deeper level by enabling us to feel a connection to Mother Earth. This alone has a great impact but science is also discovering more about how time in nature affects our bodies on the physical level.

Firstly, to define what we mean by “nature”, we are talking about the natural world - animals, plants, rocks, earth and water that have not been altered by man.

We understand that mentally we feel better from spending time in nature (when in a peaceful situation rather than running from a bear, etc) and that we can experience much joy from witnessing its beauty, from delicate flowers to dramatic ravines and the wonders of incredible bugs and birds, intricate patterns and the cycle of life, but what else is happening and why is it good for us to connect back to nature on a regular basis? An immersion in the natural world will definitely have an emotional impact and usually when we venture into nature it might be for a walk or some form of exercise that releases endorphins, the feel-good chemical, but there are more ways that nature heals us physically and emotionally.

It has become more widely known that children need to spend time in nature to build their immune systems. We are exposed to a wider variety of different microbes in the natural world, away from the sterile environments that often exist in buildings. This exposure helps to build immunity. It has been understood for many years that vitamin D is produced in the body from exposure to sunlight and being in nature usually achieves more exposure. More recently scientists have linked vitamin D as an important factor in managing the current virus situation.

We now even have the term "Nature Deficit Disorder", coined in 2005 by Richard Louv, which refers to the increasing number of people who have minimal interaction with the natural world and more connection with electronic devices leading to inactivity, attention difficulties, plus emotional problems and physical issues such as those linked to obesity. As you can see there are a myriad of issues that can be linked to a lack of nature. One study carried out in Dundee in the UK discovered that cortisol levels are lower when we are exposed to green spaces in our local environment. Cortisol is the body's primary stress hormone so this was used to measure the stress levels of the participants and was the primary method of measurement although other criteria were also included in the study.

Having a pet is also beneficial in many ways and can be a wonderful stress reliever, stroking a cat can help us to feel connected to another being, giving us a sense of purpose in that we need to care for that animal. The vibration of a cat purr is even said to bring us health benefits such as lowering blood pressure and reducing inflammation. The same frequencies have been used to help conditions such as osteo-arthritis using pulsed electromagnetic field devices (PEMF).

Japanese scientists are investigating how “forest bathing” can help prevent cancer by increasing the activity of the body’s natural killer cells. One study showed that this increased activity can last more than thirty days. Natural killer cells are a type of white blood cell that kill tumours and cells infected by viruses. The research has shown that plants give off chemicals called phytoncides, these chemicals are both antibacterial and antifungal and act as natural protection from insects and disease.

Science is just confirming what we already intuitively know - that nature is inherently good for us! If you can’t access nature on a daily basis then don’t despair as studies have also shown that even looking at photos of nature and using your imagination or a guided meditation to take you to a place in nature can bring great benefits.

 

We love connecting with nature and that's why our products are 100% natural, made from plants www.alchemistofeden.com/collections/all-products.

  

Our thanks to Photo by Luis del Río for the fantastic photo

 

References

Daycares in Finland Built Their Own 'Forests', And It Changed Kids' Immune Systems
https://www.sciencealert.com/daycares-in-finland-built-their-own-forests-and-it-changed-kids-immune-systems

Early exposure to germs has lasting benefits
https://www.nature.com/articles/nature.2012.10294

Vitamin D: The “sunshine” vitamin
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3356951/

Rays of immunity: Role of sunshine vitamin in management of COVID-19 infection and associated comorbidities
https://clinicalnutritionespen.com/article/S2405-4577(21)01051-2/fulltext

Nature Deficit Disorder
http://richardlouv.com/blog/what-is-nature-deficit-disorder

More green space is linked to less stress in deprived communities: Evidence from salivary cortisol patterns
https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0169204611003665

There’s Magic in a Cat’s Purr
https://wildnet.org/theres-magic-in-that-purr/

Biodiversity intervention enhances immune regulation and health-associated commensal microbiota among daycare children
https://www.science.org/doi/10.1126/sciadv.aba2578

Nature Contact and Human Health: A Research Agenda
https://ehp.niehs.nih.gov/doi/pdf/10.1289/EHP1663

Spending at least 120 minutes a week in nature is associated with good health and wellbeing
https://www.nature.com/articles/s41598-019-44097-3

Forest bathing enhances human natural killer activity and expression of anti-cancer proteins
https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/17903349/