Microorganisms inhabit all corners of planet earth, from ocean floors to our own backyards. As we dig in our gardens, planting seasonal vegetables or tending to medicinal herbs, we may not realize just how many of these microscopic creatures call our garden home. In fact, one handful of healthy garden soil can contain millions of microbes, including an incredible diversity of bacteria, fungi, algae and other organisms. Although these vital ‘tenants’ of ours are too small for the unaided eye to see, they play a key role in influencing soil fertility, decomposing organic matter, and cycling nutrients to other life. One microbe in particular, bacteria, is even thought to be responsible for dirt’s earthy smell.
As humans, soil is part of our natural habitat. From early childhood, we are in contact with dirt; we play and dig in it, we ingest plants grown in it, and we drink water that has passed through it. It makes sense then, that our bodies are also comprised of microorganisms and that the health of garden microbes impacts our health. For example, research has shown that the microorganisms in our gut play a significant role in influencing our mood and behaviour. To take this a step further, studies suggest that certain garden microbes directly contribute to higher serotonin levels in humans; hence, there is a reason why gardeners always look so happy!
Within our bodies, the largest population of microorganisms can be found in our intestine. Often referred to as our gut microbiota, these ‘internal tenants’ are as unique as our fingerprint and play a crucial role in supporting our health. For instance, healthy gut microbes help to facilitate the absorption of minerals, such as magnesium, calcium and iron, and aid in synthesizing certain essential vitamins and amino acids. These microbes also assist in digesting certain foods, such as fiber, and play a fundamental role in supporting our immune system, in addition to providing a vast array of other health benefits.
To ensure that our gut microbes, as well as our garden microbes, are plentiful and healthy, we must take care of the environments in which they live. Consider adopting the following tips, or allow them to inspire you to find new ways of supporting these vital inhabitants.
Written By: Zoë Tomichich
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