Dirt Therapy- Why it’s good to get dirty
I don’t know about you, but when I was a kid I liked to make mud pies, walk around barefoot and play in the fields and the streams.
When I had my own children I reminded myself of this as they shoveled sand into their mouths at the beach or tasted a pebble or a leaf. It is natural for children to be as close to nature as possible. Well, now research has found a connection between getting dirty and a healthy immune system. And that our obsession with germs and cleanliness might be leading to the rise in allergies, asthma and inflammatory bowel disease. We have fallen out of favor with letting our bodies learn what the environment is and fight it ourselves.
When a child puts dirt into his mouth he is allowing his immune response to explore the environment. This will help their immature immune system to know what’s good and what should be ignored. Children who grow up on farms and are exposed to all sorts of bugs, worms and natural elements have way less allergies and autoimmune problems than city kids who spend most of their time indoors. Playing outside barefoot every now and again and digging in the dirt more often would do wonders for the health of today’s kids.
9 reasons to let them get dirty.
- Letting kids play in the dirt will let them be more active. It will teach them that physical activity is fun.
- It can help train and strengthen their immune system.
- It may decrease the chance of them having allergies. Because they are gradually exposed to the allergens in the area, their bodies can fight it off better.
- Ground or “earthing” has actually been know to reduce risk of chronic conditions.
- Getting some good old fashion Vit D is going to happen if they are outside enjoying the sun.
- It gives them a closer understanding of nature and a love of nature leads to a love of life.
- It helps relieve stress. They have so much to cope with during the day, let them be outside and have some fun.
- And it’s plain fun. Look at the smile on their face when they run through a puddle or bring you a toad they found in the mud.
And it’s good for Adults too.
There is a strain of bacteria (Mycobacterium vaccae) in dirt that can trigger the release of serotonin, the magic chemical that elevates mood and decreases anxiety. It also has been found to improve our cognitive function and even treat cancer and other disease.
They have found that letting the elderly in nursing homes plant flowers and gardens actually increases their memory levels and creates a calming behavior. There was an interesting study done by the Journal of Health Psychology that showed that 30 people were assigned to outdoor gardening or indoor reading. Both had decreased level of cortisol but the gardeners showed an significant decrease. http://journals.sagepub.com/doi/abs/10.1177/1359105310365577?etoc=
So to sum it all up, get your hands dirty and Let your feet touch the earth once in a while.