If you’re feeling a little down, don’t reach for a glass of wine grab your trowel and head to the flowerbeds instead.
A spot of gardening will lift your spirits, a study suggests.
More than 90 per cent of gardeners think it improves their mood, according to a survey for Gardeners’ World magazine. It also found that gardeners are less likely to display signs associated with unhappiness or depression.
The poll of 1,500 adults in the UK found that 80 per cent of gardeners feel satisfied with their lives compared with 67 per cent of non-gardeners.
And overall, outdoor pursuits appear to bring the most happiness – 78 per cent of walkers are satisfied with their lives, as are 75 per cent of those who fish, according to the survey.
Getting down and dirty is the best ‘upper’ – Serotonin
Getting your hands dirty in the garden can increase your serotonin levels contact with soil and a specific soil bacteria, Mycobacterium vaccae, triggers the release of serotonin in our brain according to research. Serotonin is a happy chemical, a natural anti-depressant and strengthens the immune system. Lack of serotonin in the brain causes depression.
Ironically, in the face of our hyper-hygienic, germicidal, protective clothing, obsessive health-and-safety society, there’s been a lot of interesting research emerging in recent years regarding how good dirt is for us, and dirt-deficiency in childhood is implicated in contributing to quite a spectrum of illnesses including allergies, asthma and mental disorders.
Antidepressant microbes in soil cause cytokine levels to rise, which results in the production of higher levels of serotonin. The bacterium was tested both by injection and ingestion on rats and the results were increased cognitive ability, lower stress and better concentration to tasks than a control group.
Gardeners inhale the bacteria, have topical contact with it and get it into their bloodstreams when there is a cut or other pathway for infection. The natural effects of the soil bacteria antidepressant can be felt for up to 3 weeks if the experiments with rats are any indication. So get out and play in the dirt and improve your mood and your life.
It appears it will all work much better with organic soil and crops that haven’t been contaminated with Roundup or Glyphosate-based herbicides. This proviso also extends to what you eat, so ideally you’ll avoid consuming non-organic foods that have been grown in farmland using glyphosates.
A recent study in 2008 discovered that glyphosate, the active ingredient of Roundup, depletes serotonin and dopamine levels in mammals. One study found glyphosate residues in cotton fabric made from Roundup-ready GM cotton can absorb into the skin and into our nervous and circulatory systems.
So enjoy the garden, fresh organic food and make sure you have fun playing in the dirt on a regular basis.