Gardeners have lower risk of chronic and mental illness, study finds

The first-ever randomized controlled trial of community gardening found that eating more fiber and doing more physical activity were two known ways to reduce the risk of cancer and chronic diseases. I understand. Those who pottered in the garden also had significantly lower stress levels. , anxiety, and the risk of mental illness.

A new study of low-income households found that gardeners who participated in the study were the most stressed and anxious, but had significantly reduced mental health problems.

“These findings provide concrete evidence that community gardening can play an important role in the prevention of cancer, chronic disease and mental health disorders,” said senior ecologist at the University of Colorado Boulder. Author and Environmental Professor Jill Ritt says:

“Everywhere you go, people say there’s something about gardening that makes you feel good.”

closeup portrait young woman in white shirt breathing in fresh
Outdoor air, infused with a million plant molecules and biochemical processes, has powerful healing effects that we are only beginning to understand. (AshTproductions/Shutterstock)

The study recruited nearly 300 novice gardeners with an average age of 41 years.

Half were assigned to community gardening groups and received free community garden plots, some seeds, an introductory gardening course, and research partners. The other half were assigned to the control group.

Both groups completed regular questionnaires about diet, mental health, and physical measurements.

After two seasons, the gardening group consumed 7% more fiber each day than the control group.

“Even one gram of extra fiber can have a huge positive impact on your health,” said co-author James Hebert, director of the University of South Carolina’s Cancer Prevention and Control Program. increase.

Dietary fiber has a profound impact on inflammatory and immune responses, affecting everything from how food is metabolized to the health of the gut microbiome and susceptibility to diabetes and certain cancers, researchers say. doing.

Professor Ritt says community gardening can be transformative and even life-saving, especially for low-income immigrants living in apartments.

“Even if you come to the garden to grow your own food in a quiet place, you’ll see your neighbor’s plans, start sharing techniques and recipes, and over time a relationship will blossom,” she said.

gardening tips

National Seniors Australia recently gave some overviews. guidelines In light of rising cases of Legionellosis, a severe pneumonia from potting mix and soil to avoid getting sick while gardening.

Wearing gloves and a mask when working with garden soil or potting mix is ​​recommended, especially if you are elderly, smoke, or have a weakened immune system.

Harriet Wiley, an associate professor of environmental health at Flinders University, said open the potting mix bag away from your face and avoid shaking the bag before emptying it.

“Legionnaires’ disease is not transmitted from person to person, but by inhalation or inhalation of the Legionella bacteria,” Whitey said.

“This is why it’s important to wear a mask, keep the soil wet, and wear gloves or wash your hands when handling the potting mix.”

Wetting the potting mix first prevents dust from contaminated potting mix from being airborne and inhaled.

The gardening study was published January 4 in the journal Lancet Planetary Health.

Jesse Chan

Jessie Zhang is a Sydney-based reporter covering Australian news with a focus on health and the environment. Please contact her at [email protected]