Here’s a topic that rarely gets the attention it deserves: the benefits of gardening.
In fact, a lot of people don’t understand why they should grow anything at home when they can just pop down to the supermarket and have access to everything they need. The modern era appears to be striving more and more on getting away from nature and honing in purely on technology.
The truth is that we need nature and no single one of us can live without it. Gardening has more benefits than one realizes from acting as your personalized organic medicine cabinet to silently protesting against corporate greed.
And there’s a lot more that gardening has to offer. Here’s 10 ways gardening improves your health, your mood and your wallet!
Firstly gardening is incredibly therapeutic and has been shown to decrease stress. Many people are becoming aware that stress is one of the underlying factors that triggers many a disease from cancer to auto-immune problems. Stress also weakens the immune system and is just a down right bummer.
In a trial done on 30 gardeners who were all in recovery from acute stress disorders, it was clinically proven that just half an hour a day improved mood and reduced levels of cortisol (a stress hormone) in the body. Compared to the control group, gardening was significantly more calming than resting in bed!
Growing your own produce is one of the biggest favors you can do for yourself and your family health wise. There are many faucets to gardening that improve health.
In a study done on brain damage patients who gardened, it was shown that overall health, well-being, cognition, motor control, mood, social interaction and life satisfaction all improved significantly! In another trial done on office workers, plants were shown to reduce symptoms of fatigue, runny noses, coughing and negative neurological effects by over 30%.
Another overlooked fact is that plants which grow in your home environment tend to adapt to overcome any hazards. These include toxins and radiation.
Eating your own produce means that you will eat all these compounds the plants made to counteract these things and in doing so, you will become immune to them yourself.
There are many cultural and spiritual references for plants being our medicine in this manner. Wise men, sages and those who are more in tune with nature say that when you are in tune with your garden, it grows to support you back.
Gardening also promotes physical exercise and activity, which is undoubtedly healthy for you!
Everyone should know that plants take in carbon dioxide, sunlight and water to produce glucose and oxygen!
By gardening and spending more time in nature, you are increasing the amount of oxygen you take in. Improved oxygen levels are associated with just about every single process in the human body, because we need oxygen to make energy.
With improved energy levels, our bodies can function optimally, reversing oxidative stress and damage, improving our immune functions, performing more tasks accurately, remembering things better and so much more. Every single process that happens in our systems, from digestion to creating enzymes, requires energy.
Furthermore, the parts of our bodies that convert oxygen into energy (the mitochondria) need it to function properly. When they don’t function properly, they do the opposite and start spewing out free radicals!
Spending more time in nature and upping your oxygen content will help to reverse this problem, which is also beginning to be believed as an underlying cause to many immune disorders. The mitochondria are also in charge of longevity, so by improving on oxygen levels and spending time gardening, you will actually live a healthier, longer life.
There are quite a lot of common household plants that suck up harmful toxins from our environments and keep the air cleaner. The spider plant, mother-in-law’s tongue (snake plant), certain species of palm and the money tree are just a few examples!
Naturally spending more time in the garden, away from air pollution, will improve the quality of the air you personally breathe and expose you to less toxins. This is especially good for people with respiratory problems.
Oh yes, being in nature more often, whether in your home garden or in a nature reserve has been shown to improve overall mood.
In a rather sophisticated study, 20 000 participants were each given an app for their smartphones. At random times over an extended period, the app would send out a questionnaire to the participants, collecting information on the light, the weather, who they were with and how they felt. The app also collected GPS coordinates and location.
The majority of the participants were the happiest when in a green, natural setting with friends, once again proving that nature is superior for boosting mood.
This is just one of many studies that support these findings. It was also shown that interacting with nature improves mood even in those who suffer from mood disorders such as depression.
Aside from the act of gardening, the rewards reaped from it take longer to achieve and come with a much larger sense of satisfaction.
Being in nature allows for better social conduct, more connectedness between people and nature, as well as less isolation.
In a two week case study, groups of students were asked to spend time in either nature or man-made setups. The emotions of either groups were recorded during this time, as well as social interaction. The group that spent time in nature reported having far more positive emotions, a decreased sense of alienation and better social engagement than the other group.
Just about every other study that focuses on gardening in recovery or well being stipulates that it improves social interaction. Even in the most socially awkward cases like autism, gardening appears to help them to engage better with others.
If you find that you have difficulty connecting at social gatherings, try to host them in nature or spend more time in your garden. You may just find a huge improvement!
In studies done on office workers, having plants in the office proved to enhance focus and productivity . It follows on naturally that plants and spending more time near them will improve focus and work ethic.
As mentioned above, improved oxygen levels from being in the garden also improve cognition, memory, focus and satisfaction in life, all of which contribute to a better work ethic.
This may not seem like a benefit to some, but it comes with hidden perks. Being in tune with your environment will not only improve your mood but it will also allow you to be connected to other people. We already mentioned how gardening improves social interaction.
The extension of being in tune with nature also instils a sense of responsibility and respect for one’s food and environment. Having a connection with the food you eat is linked to eating more balanced and not over-indulging. That has obvious correlations with weight loss as well as longevity.
Being more in tune with nature also puts you in a position where you feel more receptive and giving. In some studies, it was reported that gardening increases a sense of altruism. It also heightens your understanding for why we need to preserve the environment, which leads me on to the next point.
Gardening even helps to change the world!
You may or may not be aware that our planet is largely run by many multinational corporations that appear to be mining the planets resources for economic greed. Companies such as Monsanto and oil companies like Shell are largely responsible for much environmental destruction.
Agricultural farming practices may produce lots of produce, but the chemicals used to propagate the whole process actually leach the soil of nutrients. Beyond this, these heavy metals and other toxins travel via ground water or evaporate into rain clouds, further spreading environmental decay.
The sea, forests, mountains and grass lands of our planet are suffering from all this industrial activity. Much land has become less fertile and this places higher demand on farmers to use more of these awful chemicals… or to change their ways.
Aside from these toxins being unleashed like titans across the land, the genetic modification of plants has lead to one health disaster after another. GMO plants can resist drought and are praised as being the solution, but they make it difficult for farmers to stop using sprays as they have far weaker immune systems. They also ruin our planet’s natural genetic diversity.
Eating these crops has shown to lead to increased risk of just about every major disorder from Diabetes to Alzheimer’s Disease to Cancer. All this suits the big corporations. It encourages more money to be spent on their products, from pesticides to pharmaceuticals.
When one takes food production into their own hands, one endeavors into a silent peaceful protest against this kind of negative activity. Furthermore, by not using harmful chemicals in the garden and promoting this kind of logic, you are helping the world to change and become a more fertile place that can flourish.
Last, but not least, gardening will save you money. Growing your own food saves you money on buying expensive food.
It is especially cost effective to grow food that is non-GMO and organic, because then you will save money on your health bills in the long run.
Learn how to grow all you need to keep your immune system strong and you may never need to see a doctor again, probably living well into your 90s or longer! If you grow a surplus, you can even make a little bit extra on the side by selling the excess to your community.
There you have it. Ten reasons why everyone should be spending more time gardening and less time watching television! Take up the challenge and help to make the world a better, greener, cleaner place.