Gardening has many rewards. The avid gardener enjoys the benefits of regular doses of Vitamin D and perfectly good stress releasing activities that combine exercise, meditation and self fulfillment, not to mention the joy of getting in touch with nature. The pleasure of eating home-grown organic fruit and veg is impossible to describe until you’ve bitten into your own succulent produce.
If you’ve harvested a bounty, you will know the simple joy of giving the excess to friends and family. You will feel the sense of achievement when you have pickled, preserved and processed your organic goods into scrumptious delights to be enjoyed long after the season is over.
Now you have an even better reason to get stuck into the soil. Researchers have discovered naturally occurring soil bacteria that could actually assist with learning and improve mood.
Mycobacterium vaccae is name of these good bacteria that you would inhale or ingest when you are pottering around in your garden. It has been suggested that these tiny organisms boost levels of Serotonin and lower anxiety levels. Serotonin is a hormone that supports a variety of really feel good sensations. It helps to give us a sense of happiness, it makes us feel relaxed and lubricates the learning process and it also suppresses our appetite. The benefits of M. vaccae were discovered when scientists injected heat-killed bacteria into mice and noted an increase in circulating Serotonin levels.
They went on to feed live bacteria to one group of mice and observed their behaviors against a control group of mice that had not been fed. The mice that had eaten the bacteria negotiated a maze faster and with less anxiety than the control group. However, once the scientists stopped feeding the mice with this delightful little germ, they reverted to finishing the maze in more or less the same time and with same amount of anxiety as the control group.
This is an excellent reason why we should diligently tend our gardens month after month. Keep our soil healthy and grow organically. Healthy soil not only produces healthy fruit, veg and flowers, but also encourages the proliferation of good bacteria like Mycobacterium vaccae. Getting the children involved in the garden might even produce better school marks – and who wouldn’t want to get a teenager to do something that would improve their self-esteem.
Gardening is one of life’s pleasures that should be shared and treasured. We should encourage those that inhabit even the smallest patch of earth to transform their space into a wonderland.