Consider a Countryside Vacation This Summer
Vacations, hands down, are one of the best parts of summer. You’re exposed to so many new things when you vacation/travel: cultures, experiences, foods, and so much more!
The opportunities are endless when you vacation/travel and that is exciting.
You may already know that you’re exposed to new bacteria when you vacation/travel. Generally, we assume they’re bad because of hearing stories about food poisoning or the West Nile virus.
However, you can be exposed to new and good bacteria as well, and not just from the foods you consume. The new plants, soil, and animals expose you to a whole new environment of bacteria, and it’s incredibly good for your health.
Country (Rural) vs City (Urban) Areas
On a general basis, whether you’re living there or visiting there, non-urban areas are going to offer you a better opportunity for ideal health. This comes from the microbiome of those areas.
When urbanization happened, the natural habitats had to be destroyed so buildings and streets could be put in their places. What we didn’t know would happen because of that is we decreased the microbes our bodies need to be exposed to so our immune systems can develop fully.
The underdeveloped immune system has been linked to an increased risk of having allergies and autoimmune disorders.
Studies have been done on the differences between people living in rural vs urban areas.
- Children in Southeast Asia had their microbiomes tested — 73 from a rural area and 69 from an urban area (same age group). The children from the rural area had significantly more diverse gut bacteria than those living in more urbanized areas.
- To show that rural living can also improve health in adulthood (not just childhood), a study was done on 55-69-year-old women. They were screened for having hay fever, asthma, and skin or other allergies. Those who lived on farms rather than in the city had a significantly lower risk of any form of allergy.
These studies among many others call for a new way to supplement our health. Cities and urbanization cannot be undone. The housing and jobs are necessary to sustain our lifestyles.
However, researchers are looking into a way to reintroduce the rural aspects to urban living. This area of interest is called microbiome rewilding.
Rewilding is pretty much how it sounds, introducing new or reintroducing species to an area to help support a healthier ecosystem. A good example of this is when wolves were reintroduced to Yellowstone National Park. The ecosystem started hurting and was out of balance when the wolves weren’t there. Once they were reintroduced, everything went back to how it was supposed to be.
The goal of microbiome rewilding is to restore a balance to the world around you so it better supports your health. Bringing back a foraging type of lifestyle, even inside the city, can help to support our immune systems.
Plants give off oxygen which is one huge reason to have them around. They also help to bring balance to the positive/negative charges around us. Plants have been known to change the microbiome of the environment surrounding them.
Just having plants around might be enough, but studies showing the difference between the Amish and Hutterites opens our eyes to another possible mechanism that can improve our health. The Amish manually grab their crops while the Hutterites use machines to bring in their harvest.
The Amish have a much lower rate of allergy among them and tend to have a much more diverse microbiota composition. This gave way to studying foragers and showed that they too have a more healthy body than the general public.
This information suggests that by physically touching the plants and being exposed to the soil can be a huge factor in improving our health. Soil is a big factor in the health of a plant. Plants won’t grow where excessively low-quality soil is. Different soils offer plants more benefits that can be carried through when you consume them.
Reintroducing plants to cities is expected to decrease medical costs because of the health benefits shown in previous experiments. The major health concerns that are expected to improve with microbiome rewilding include asthma, allergies, and IBD.
To learn more about how to feed your microbiome click here
So although this all seems like a great thing, there are some potential issues that need to be addressed before we turn our cities into Jurassic Park.
- Reintroducing more plants to cities can bring out dangerous animals that we aren’t normally exposed to.
- The added influx of animals also increases the risk of zoonotic (animal-derived) diseases.
- Certain plant byproducts can be unhealthy based on new technology. When plant runoff is exposed to chlorine it can become dangerous at high levels and cause liver, bladder, and reproductive problems.
- Some plant types like eucalyptus and pine are extremely flammable.
- Getting funding for these projects is quite difficult.
- In most studies, it took around 10 years for the people living in rewilded areas to see any health benefits (although studies are improving every day).
The fortunate part of all of these problems is that most of them are easily avoidable. With proper planning by highly-trained horticulturists, we can keep these problems in mind and create systems that support our and the planet’s health.
How You Can Utilize These Benefits Right Now
So if you’re living in the city right now, and they aren’t adding trees to every street corner, that’s okay. Even if your city is starting to implement microbiome rewilding, you may not receive benefits of that for a few years. You can start by doing small things.
Choosing places like national parks to vacation or travel instead of cities is a great start. Going camping, hiking, or berry picking are other alternatives to start adding to your hobbies that not only expose you to a new world of plants and bacteria, but you are also getting some extra fresh air and vitamin D.
Starting a small vegetable garden or taking up foraging can really help you to start getting the knowledge you need on how to properly care for the plants around you. (Plus an added bonus is you know your plants aren’t genetically modified or exposed to harmful chemicals like pesticides.)
Getting back to nature is the key to all of this. So grab your hiking boots, some Atrantil (since it’s an all-natural plant-based product), and go join a foraging group to learn about your local mushroom options. For future trips try to keep this in mind. Your body will thank you.
What’s your favorite way to get back to vacation in nature? Or what prevents you from getting into nature? Let us know in the comments section below! :)