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How Getting Down and Dirty In The Garden Makes You Fit and Happy

How Getting Down and Dirty In The Garden Makes You Fit and Happy

Are you feeling tired, miserable and fed up? You know what can help?

Plants. Well, soil to be exact.

Regular gardeners feel happy when they are outside and there’s a scientific reason for that feeling – the soil is chock-full of an anti-depressant.

Soil | How Getting Down and Dirty In The Garden Makes You Fit and Happy

Anti Depressant In The Soil

It’s true - researchers have found a bacterium in the soil called Mycobacterium Vaccae (MV) that activates serotonin-producing neurons in the same way prescription drugs do.

Serotonin is a happiness chemical that balances our moods. A lack of it is linked to depression, anxiety and other mental health problems. We need to get enough serotonin to feel good.

If serotonin-enhancing free-of-charge MV is abundant and free in our gardens let’s take advantage of that and dig ourselves happy. Go and get your spade, I’ll wait here.

Soil | How Getting Down and Dirty In The Garden Makes You Fit and Happy

Mycobacterium Vaccae – Super Happy Bacterium

MV was not a new discovery in 2004 when it was used to try and strengthen immune systems of lung cancer patients in London, researchers already knew it had something good going for it. Sadly it didn’t help fight cancer, but patients reported feeling happier, more focused and less anxious.

Further experiments in the UK and USA found lab mice performed better in maze tests with a dose of MV and they were less anxious.

Soil | How Getting Down and Dirty In The Garden Makes You Fit and Happy

Enjoy Some Dirty Thoughts

Gardeners know about healing powers of the soil, but we’ve assumed it’s the fresh air, light, lack of stress and exercise that made us feel good.

Those reasons still apply, but MV might be a major reason why we feel so good after a day in the garden. Perhaps this is why survivors of trauma undertake gardening as therapy and why kids automatically enjoy outdoor life - until the lure of being cool on an X-box takes over their natural instincts.

Counteract the Internet

Many of us have jobs that require eight hours plus in front of a screen, and then we come home and sit in front of another screen and look at our mobile screen, but gardening is the polar opposite to internet-based sedentary lifestyles.

Gardening disconnects you from the electronic world, gets your body moving, helps you absorb natural light, it doesn’t judge you, and now it appears gardening makes you chemically happy without any drug dependency.  You can’t beat it as a cure for everyday life.

How Getting Down and Dirty In The Garden Makes You Fit and Happy

What is Mycobacterium Vaccae Exactly?

MV is a bacterium, but don’t be scared, not all bacteria are bad despite advertising companies scaring us so they can sell their crappy antibacterial wipes, sprays, gels, bath foam and toilet paper.  

Mycobacterium Vaccae is a non-pathogenic bacterium. It doesn’t cause disease but just goes about its business improving the soil so the world can eat.

We should be thanking it really, not avoiding the soil because we believe it’s dirty and germ-infested. Soil is not dirty.

Nature Deficiency Disorder

Researchers are linking the world’s increasingly poor health to a disconnection with the outside world.

Children are developing more asthma and allergies than ever, many have weak immune systems and obesity is rampant. Scientists believe it’s because they don’t play in the dirt anymore.

Playing in the dirt strengthens immune systems through inoculation. It makes your immune system more able to fight infections because it’s come across tiny bits of it in the living soil – so when something big comes along it knows what to do, and perhaps you won’t need another course of antibiotics.

And while you’re outside playing with MV the sunshine is synthesising vitamin D to strengthen your bones and shining light into your eyes to prevent Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD). You’ll burn calories, strengthen muscles and rid yourself of a backache too. 

There is nothing to lose except that totally rubbish feeling.  

How Getting Down and Dirty In The Garden Makes You Fit and Happy

Where To Find Mycobacterium Vaccae

You don’t need to look for MV because it’s found in all soils. You breathe it in and touch it with your hands – that’s enough. There’s no need to eat it.

Gardening Is Healthy

Gardening is just the occupation to counteract your busy yet sedentary working life, and perhaps Mycobacterium Vaccae will encourage enough serotonin to help keep your mental health in tip-top shape.  It certainly can’t hurt, can it?

If you’ve never tried gardening now is the time. It’s never been more fashionable or better for you.

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