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Guest post by Aimee McKee
Sun + Dirt + Microbiome: Let your Kids Get Dirty
Are you ready for summer? Spring has sprung and summer is on the way. We can't wait!
We are filling the kiddie pool!
Any time the weather is warm, we need to let our kids play outside as much as possible, soak up the sun, play in the dirt + gardens, splash in pools + oceans, eat fresh food, etc. As it gets cooler, sit out by campfires and you know that will get them dirty! Some how, most kids find a way to get the soot on themselves and their clothes!
I’ve witnessed both my kids cover themselves in dirt, mud + water more times than I can count this summer and it got me thinking, we know being outside is so beneficial for us, but WHY?
Our immune system was designed to keep harmful bacteria from colonizing + growing, while it also maintains an ideal environment for helpful bacteria to grow + flourish! We live in a bacteria 🦠 fearful world right now but not all bacteria is bad!!!
I used to cringe inwardly when I saw my firstborn covered in mud, but two kids in, I’m actually thankful for it now! Here’s why; the National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI) did a fascinating study on how soil contributes to the human gut! This is what they found...
“Soil and the human gut contain approximately the same number of active microorganisms”. “From hunter-gatherers to an urbanized society, the human gut has lost alpha diversity... On top of little contact with soil and feces, hygienic measures, antibiotics and a low fiber diet of processed food have led to a loss of beneficial microbes”. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6780873/
Dr. Mitra Ray, Biochemist, P.h.D in cellular biology AND partnered with my healthy living community talks about how society used to eat and how we eat now . Remember the hunter-gatherers example above? Nomadic individuals used to eat 200 different plants per month (or something close to that), now most Americans eat maybe 75 plant foods per month!
Dr. Mitra likens the average gut to a dry desert. Picture someone scatters dandelions seeds over it, eventually, the dandelions (harmful bacteria) will take over. But, on the flip side, imagine your gut as a lush, flourishing rainforest! If you scatter some dandelion seeds in that rainforest, they’re not going to take over because your gut is protected! What’s protecting that rainforest and allowing it to flourish? A wide variety of whole foods (fruits and veggies), fermented foods (sauerkraut, kimchi), etc.
Circling back to the NCBI study; “the human/intestinal microbiome as well as the soil/root microbiome, when coming in close contact can replenish each other with inoculates, genes and growth sustaining molecules”.
Lastly, we can’t forget about the sun and the huge factor it plays into benefitting our health and our gut! Regular sun exposure of 10-30 minutes several times per week is optimal for maintaining healthy Vitamin D levels!
Another fascinating study, this one done by Georgetown University Medical Center, found that not only does the sun allow us to make Vitamin D but it also energizes T cells which play a huge role in building immunity! The university discovered that “low levels of blue light found in sun rays, makes T cells move faster”.
So, if you’ve stuck with me this far, I’ll sum this up by saying, GET OUTSIDE as much as you can! In this germ fearing world, don’t forget that we NEED the earth to help us live + thrive, not just the food but the dirt it grows from. Touch nature as you’re exploring it.
Let your kids get muddy and messy, don’t freak out if they drop their food on the ground, all these factors are helping you and your family grow a healthy gut and that is something to be excited about! 💛
Aimee McKee is a NASM Certified Personal Trainer and
Dr. Sears Certified Family Health Coach, wife and mother of two. You can connect with her @WholeFoodsHealthandFitness where she shares her life, healthy living, and meal ideas.
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