Being with Dirt

VCM community garden

My own journey with major health challenges, as well as watching family members age in compromised health, led me to become a health coach in 2010. I acknowledge that there are those people who believe that I am a bit obsessed about health and wellness – to that I can only respond that I truly believe that “when we know better, we do better”, and I am impassioned by learning and empowered by taking my health back.

Of the things I value most, understanding the mind-spirit-body connection and vibrant health are tops on my list, and so I work hard to live this truth as I age in health. To that end, I research and study incessantly – personally living what I learn [I’m the guinea pig] and sharing with those who want to know.

I was so blown away by information I recently learned (from Dr. Zach Bush) about populating the microbiome that I decided to change my Saturday ritual of attending synagogue. Instead, I made the choice to get down and dirty in our community garden, commune with bacteria and microbes, as well as the wonderful ‘human’ beings that abound in our neighborhood.

I thought I’d share this information and let you know about the incredible opportunity you have to populate your microbiome – right here in your own backyard!

Our microbiome – [those bacteria living in your gut, and all over your skin and in your body] – which scientists now consider an important organ – are closely linked to our weight, mental health, autoimmune health, blood pressure, diabetes, heart disease, and cancer.

For most of human history we interacted with the outdoors in some way each day. Food came from the ground and through interactions with the soil we came into contact with soil-based organisms that are natural strains of probiotics found in the gut and on the skin.

Most probiotic supplements will not have the same strains of bacteria, and unless they are SBOs (also known as spore-forming bacteria) they may not survive the harsh environment in the stomach and upper digestive system to get to the small intestine.

So, what are we to do?

  • Well, your garden has its own microbiome and the current research suggests that it’s good for you. Our health depends on a flourishing microbiome in our gut, and we might just benefit by letting the natural world’s microbiome infiltrate us!
  • Grow some food – example: a 3-4 leaf spinach plant has over 900 species of bacteria inside it! Eating straight from your garden might be one route to more vaccae!! [studies have shown that M. vaccae increases serotonin, which modulates anxiety!]
  • Breathing in, playing in, and digging in dirt may be good for our health! Take your shoes off and walk barefoot.
  • Pull a weed – the pulling of the weed disrupts the micology, the fungi and mycelium in the soil, and then you breathe in that intracellular environment of those mycelium which brings all kinds of interesting enzymes into your body, as well as the spores of the fungi and bacteria.

Another idea that could be transformative to our microbiome as well as our overall health – is relationship – a relationship that is both intentional and mindful. When you are in touch with your garden, or your herb plant, or just the soil you are walking upon, you are developing a relationship with mother earth! When we work together in the community, we also have the opportunity to grow and develop a relationship with the ‘human’ beings that are our neighbors.

Peace and Blessings,

Robin