How dirt keeps us healthy

It’s that time of year again…mud season!

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Although we parents might cringe at the dirty floors and extra laundry, did you know that playing in the dirt is extremely good for your child’s health?

In 1 teaspoon of soil, there are as many organisms as there are people on the planet.

Wait, is that a good thing?

Absolutely.

Why?

Because the human body is chock-full or organisms as well.  The average 70 kilogram adult body contains *more* bacteria than human cells.  These bacteria (along with the rest of our microbiome) help to regulate digestion, nutrient production and absorption, immune health, detoxification, and even mood. 

But our precious gut, and the microbiome housed within it, is easily disrupted by processed foods, antibiotics and other medications, toxins, and stress.  Our homes and schools are becoming oversanitized, and we’re spending less and less time outside.  These factors lead to a weakened gut and less than ideal microbiome.

A fun and easy way to help our guts thrive – GET OUTSIDE!  And don’t be afraid to get a little dirty!  In doing so, we’re interacting with those billions of organisms in the soil, and as a result, we’re helping to diversify and strengthen our microbiome.

(Other added bonuses: time in nature helps to decrease cortisol (“stress hormone”), increase immune function, and improve executive functioning (attention and time management), learning, memory, and sleep.)

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Here are some great ways to encourage more interaction with dirt and nature (although most kids are quite happy to dive right in without too much coaxing!)

  • go barefoot
  • play in forest
  • take a picnic to the park
  • grow an organic veggie garden (and rinse, but don’t peel the veggies before eating)
  • plant some flowers
  • climb a tree
  • roll down a grassy hill
  • visit a farm
  • go camping
  • make mudpies (or Little B’s favourite, “mud stew”)
  • build a fort
  • dig for worms

SO, what are you waiting for?  Grab those rubber boots, and head for the door!