How the Great Outdoors are More Linked to Your Health Than You May Know
Hey all! Anyone else dreaming of Springtime already or is it just me? There’s just something about the energy that Spring brings with it, one that is reinvigorating and symbolizes new growth. The feeling of warm sun on your face as you venture outside for a long walk after a long cold winter reminds me of one of my favorite quotes:
“Nature has great simplicity, and therefore great beauty.” - Richard Feynman
We talk a lot around here about nourishing your body from the inside out by eating nutrient dense foods, and by incorporating high quality supplements that will keep you in balance. But this month I want to touch on the importance of also choosing an equally nourishing external environment, and how this can affect your health and wellbeing.
As I mentioned last month, good gut health, in my humble opinion, the magic key to unlocking optimal health in all other areas.
The microbiomes of individuals that have more exposure to nature have an increase in microbial diversity – a key characteristic associated with the gut microbiome of healthy individuals, as well as increased abundance of beneficial gut bacteria.
One of the easiest ways to naturally increase your microbial diversity is simply by being around different types of bacteria, and being outside gives you exposure to all sorts of microbes that can benefit your microbiome.
Getting out in nature is not only relaxing, it gets you around some brand new bacteria, and it helps promote that “rest and digest” stage for optimal immunity, and nourishment of the nervous system.
And while you are enjoying time outside in nature, unplugging and unwinding, remember that getting your heart rate up could also be beneficial! Exercise increases the populations of beneficial bacteria in your gastrointestinal tract by up to 40%, so the more you’re moving around outside, the better.
Spending time in nature has many benefits that could support a healthy gut microbiome, including the lower levels of air pollution outside of urban cities.
A recent study reported that the types of microorganisms found in rural vs urban environments might also be influencing your microbiome.
When researchers analyzed the indoor microbiome (via vacuum dust samples) in rural and urban classrooms, they found that urban schools had a higher number of potential pathogens and pro-inflammatory Proteobacteria while rural schools tended to favor beneficial short-chain fatty acid producing microorganisms.
So my challenge to you is to get outside a little more this week than you normally would! You don’t have to wait for spring, although digging around in the garden does sound divine right about now. Bundle up and take a short walk around your block, park in a parking spot that’s a little further from the door, go stand in your backyard, take a deep breath and feel the warm sun on your face.
Pro Tip: Fanny Packs are BACK
One of my favorite accessories for a long outdoor walk is my fanny pack. It’s hands free and fits everything that I need without having to worry about a purse or backpack pulling on my shoulders, or my pockets being weighed down.