Plant the Seeds for a Healthier Life!
Temperatures are rising and spring is right around the corner. It is the perfect time to get outside and get your hands dirty by starting your own garden. Not only is gardening a great way to enjoy nature, it also offers many other benefits.
The healthiest and tastiest foods you can eat are homegrown organic fruits and vegetables. These foods contain more nutrients than crops harvested for commercial consumption because they aren’t exposed to pesticides and synthetic fertilizers, which deplete the soil of nutrients needed to yield nutritious produce. Fruits and vegetables are the most nutritious when ripe, but produce at the grocery store is often left nutritionally deficient when commercial farms harvest prematurely in order to ship them great distances. Starting your own garden can also promote healthier eating habits. Studies even show that people who grow their own food are likely to eat more fruits and vegetables.
Gardening also offers many mental and physical health benefits. Studies have shown that gardening boosts your mood and lowers stress hormones. Through gardening and nurturing a plant from seed to fruit bearing, the evidence of your positive impact on the world is tangible and measurable, increasing self-esteem. This may also be the reason working in a garden helps those with depression or other mental disorders. The physical activity and fulfilling work of caring for plants are therapeutic!
An unexpected health benefit of gardening is its role in reducing the risk of dementia and Alzheimer’s. A study found daily gardening to be the single biggest risk reduction for dementia, reducing incidence by 36%. Although Alzheimer’s is a mysterious disease, a variety of cognitive functions used in gardening—such as endurance, problem solving and sensory awareness—may provide benefit.
Physically, gardening is a great form of low-impact exercise that increases strength and dexterity by working different muscle groups. Gardening has been found to reduce the risk of heart attack and stroke by 30% for those over 60. It’s an exercise people are more likely to stick with and stay motivated for because of the tangible results of their hard work. As an added bonus, being outside gives you Vitamin D, which fights heart disease and osteoporosis.
Bounty from a garden requires less energy to produce, package and transport. Growing your own produce or supporting those who do can also help reduce the environmental impact of larger-scale production, which can lead to soil erosion, wasteful water consumption and pollution.
With all its benefits, gardening sounds like an activity for just about anyone. It’s appropriate for any age group and it’s a fun way to spend time with your family outside. As you start planning your garden, what are you looking forward to planting?