How gardening can help prevent chronic illness

I grew up in a cottage surrounded by a lovely garden with colorful flowers, spreading their pollen-like pixie dust, and lush green whispering grasses. I usually woke up with the beautiful dawn’s chorus of tweety birds and pigeons. Life was simple, but it braided itself close to nature.

After marriage, I moved to Dubai. Though the country is thoroughly modernized, I missed my country life, the garden and all the lovely stuff Mother Nature had to offer. Soon, it started to have an impact on me.

I became more pessimistic and negative, had lots of stress and lost the joy of my inner child. You know what? These factors are the stepping stones to chronic illness. Soon, I started growing a balcony garden with lovely colorful flowers, juicy red tomatoes and fragrant herbs. Simply put, I got my joy back. Now, gardening is my way of life.

Boosts your immunity

Nature can act as a multivitamin and boost your immunity quotient. Sounds great, is it not? A study released by the researchers of the University of Illinois says spending time in nature can protect you against a host of scary chronic illness, such as depression, diabetes, ADHD, cancer and cardiovascular disease. Amazing, isn’t it?

Frances “Ming” Kuo, the lead researcher, says there are 21 possible pathways between nature and good health. When the body is exposed to greenery, it goes into a “rest and relaxation” mode and devotes resources to long-term investments such as growing, reproducing and strengthening the immune system.

Mother Nature provides you phytoncides, negative air ions, mycobacterium vaccae and vitamin D-producing sunlight, all of which boost your immunity to several notches higher.

Reduces obesity

Want to look gorgeous, slim and fit? Then you better start gardening. The researchers of the University of Utah say that people who participate in community gardens have a lower BMI.

They have lower odds of being overweight or obese. Cathleen Zick, the lead author, says obesity is costly and gardening helps people understand the value of healthy eating and increases their physical activity.

For older people, gardening can strengthen their hands and their pinch force, which helps them to live a more independent life.

Apart from reducing cholesterol levels and blood pressure, gardening can open the floodgates of goodness for young people. It can boost the psychosocial health of young people. Planting, harvesting, sowing, raking, weeding, mulching and watering give the same health benefits of moderate- to high-intensity exercises.

Reduces inflammation

Inflammation can seriously undermine your health. The University of California researchers found that feelings of awe, especially when touched by the beauty of nature, can reduce harmful, pro-inflammatory cytokines. A low-cytokines level makes people experience more positive emotions.

Positive feelings enhance the physical and emotional well-being of people. Now, that’s awesome. When you look at the salmon pink evening sky hovering over the mountains or the silver dew drops on your engraved window sill, your heart skips a beat, filling you up to the brim with positivity and boosting your wellness quotient.

Reduces the risk of secondary cancer

What a lovely piece of news to hear. There is a beautiful farmland called Growing Hope in the midst of The Ohio State University. Now, you may wonder what is so special about it — there are neat rows of berries, sweet peppers and kale, and all these natural goodies are taken care of by cancer survivors. The survivors were given expert nutritional advice on healthy eating habits.

Something magical was happening in that garden: The participants lost weight and reduced fasting glucose and non-HDL cholesterol levels. They had increased physical activity and skin carotenoid levels.

All these positive attributes greatly reduced their chances of recurrence of cancer.

We belong to nature. So, enhance your gardening skills. Make that wish come true from your bucket list, get your fingers dirty, smell the earth and reap the wellness harvest.