Small City Gardens Have the Potential to Improve Your Microbiome

Urban gardening can have a significant impact on overall health, a recent study suggests. Researchers found that a one-month indoor gardening period increased the bacterial diversity of participants’ skin and improved their response to inflammation. This could help city dwellers fend off disease and reduce healthcare costs associated with immune-mediated conditions.

Lead study author Mika Saarenpaa, a doctoral researcher with the University of Helsinki in Finland, emphasized the importance of microbial exposure for human health. He noted that urbanization has led to a decrease in microbial diversity, which has been linked to an increase in immune-mediated diseases.

Participants in the study gardened using regular flower boxes, with some using naturally derived and microbially rich soil while others used microbially poor peat-based soil. Results showed that those using rich soil experienced improvements in inflammatory response and skin bacteria, indicating the potential health benefits of gardening in diverse forest soil.

The study, published in the journal Environment International, highlights the potential for gardening to regulate the immune system and improve overall health. Saarenpaa suggested that schools and parents consider introducing children to gardening with rich soil to support the development of a healthy immune system.

Ultimately, this research underscores the importance of nature and soil diversity in maintaining human health. Saarenpaa emphasized the need for urban areas to incorporate diverse natural environments to support microbial exposure beneficial to health.

For more information on the health benefits of gardening, visit the Mayo Clinic website.