5 Ways That Growing Food Boosts Your Health
Growing food has been part of our lifestyles for thousands of years as a way to sustain and nourish our bodies.
This still holds true for today, but the industrial revolution somewhat stole this vital activity away from the majority of households that use to grow some of their own food.
When food became massed produced and largely dehumanized in the way it was grown, with the use of machines, mass monocultures, synthetic pesticides and fertilizers, the very nutritious act of having a kitchen garden declined.
Throughout the last century as we’ve moved into our modern day society, the typical mindset accepts that our man-made environments are disconnected from Nature, like it is normal.
But this thinking, is far from the truth because we are living beings.
We are nature too and we are designed to function best in natural environments, not sterile artificial environments that many human beings, unfortunately, are existing in today.
We thrive among plants, flowers, grass...not concrete and steel.
Our basic needs, as described by psychologist Maslow, must be met to function - food, shelter, sleep, safety, security - but these are not the endpoint for optimal health.
We are dynamic species. And we need the natural environments to support the other parts, the other layers of us.
Here are 5 reasons I believe growing food truly helps to tap into these other layers to uplevel your health.
REASON 1: Nutrition
When you learn how to grow your own food and help build soil health through regenerative practices you grow nutrient-dense foods that fuels both your brain and body health. You get reconnected with the source of what you eat.
The freshest and healthiest food you can eat is the food you grew yourself beyond anything you could buy from the grocery store.
Harvesting your food fresh and knowing all of what went into growing that food, nourishes you on more than one level...this is real nutrition.
REASON 2: Movement
Growing food gets your body moving in natural ways.
We are meant to move before eating. Then we eat to have the energy to move again. This the natural relationship between movement and nutrition.
Growing food gets your body moving in various ways from squatting, walking, hiking, shovelling, cutting, carrying...lots of different ways.
Not only that, but growing food gets you outside breathing fresh air, soaking in vitamin D, connecting to soil and plants, and grounding - also known as earthing.
Earthing is when your bare feet connect to the earth transfering free electrons from the earth’s surface into your body that spread throughout your tissues - which help to improve sleep, enhance well-being, and reduce inflammation.
Artificial environments bombard us with positive charge, so grounding with the earth neutralizes the positive charges swarming throughout the body from exposure to electronics and man-made sources of pollution.
REASON 3: Brain Health
Research has shown that the simple act of getting your hands dirty and connecting with plants helps to relieve stress (lowering cortisol), anxiety, while at the same time increases your energy, creativity and problem solving skills. Even indoor plants prove to be very beneficial for increasing mental well-being.
I am sure you have experienced feeling more energized, clear in your mind, and creative after being on a farm or in a garden.
The reason for this is mood-boosting microbes exist in healthy soil helping to stimulate serotonin production (in the gut) helping you feel happier and more relaxed.
Mycobacterium vaccae, a specific type of bacteria commonly found in soil, has been shown reduce anxiety - helping your feel better.
These microbes in the soil also stimulates the immune system (80% of the immune system resides in the gut), helping to increase your resiliency (aka not being susceptible to the common cold or flu).
So getting dirty with soil in the garden, not only makes you happier, it also helps to protect against degenerative diseases.
REASON 4: Meditation
The simple act of being surrounded by nature, like in a garden or food forest, reduces your stress because it puts the mind in a similar state to that of meditation.
It provides a healing space for your to tune in, observe, connect, and relax. Your senses naturally awaken and your mind quiets, which brings you into the present moment.
When you observe nature you can learn from her - her diversity, beauty, acceptance, interactions, and patience.
The beauty of spending time in the garden is it really invites you to slow down, get completely absorbed by what you are doing, and get into a flow type state, a blissful state where you are totally immersed in the activity and completely in the moment (timeless).
REASON 5: Community
We are social beings.
As such, your emotional and mental health relies on connection with others in some way, shape or form.
Growing food with your family, your children, at a community garden or on a dynamic farm naturally provides a community to connect with and celebrate the abundance, beauty, and life overall.
By creating a space to grow some of your own food, however small or big, you provide yourself an environment to support your mental, emotional, physical, and spiritual health, while at the same time helping to heal the planet.
Breanne Gibson, MSc, DHN is a regenerative change leader, designer and educator redefining how we grow, eat and live for peak human and planetary health. You can find out more here.