Can a Simple At-Home Garden Improve Your Health?

Photo by Markus Spiske on Unsplash

Having an at-home garden is a nutritionally and financially healthy way to improve your health, and it’s really easy to do!

Gardening and the Gut-Brain Connection

Growing your own food is fun and fulfilling, but it’s also been shown to improve a plethora of health conditions, in particular mental health. Gardening is a tool used by many to improve symptoms of depression and anxiety. Mental health is something that is overlooked by many but can have a drastic effect on the digestive system. Our GI tract contains millions of cells known as the enteric nervous system. The enteric nervous system plays a major role in digestion and communicates directly with the brain. Some scientists believe that the enteric nervous system can cause big emotional shifts for individuals suffering from digestive disorders like IBS and IBD. It is believed that the irritation felt in the intestines send signals to the central nervous system, resulting in mood changes.

Here’s an excerpt from a Johns Hopkins paper explaining this important connection:

“For decades, researchers and doctors thought that anxiety and depression contributed to these problems. But our studies and others show that it may also be the other way around.”

“These new findings may explain why a higher-than-normal percentage of people with IBS and functional bowel problems develop depression and anxiety,” Pasricha says. “That’s important, because up to 30 to 40 percent of the population has functional bowel problems at some point.”

With our gut and brain having such a strong connection it’s important to seek out ways to calm them both! Container gardening is an easy and effective way to grow a substantial amount of food with a low investment and workload.

Container Gardening Instructions

A great way to get started is with a container garden that can be placed in a sunny spot indoors or outdoors. Container gardening means that the vegetables and fruits are grown in a pot or other dirt-holding medium versus being planted straight into the ground or a garden bed.

You’ll need:

  • 4 large pots
  • 1 large bag of potting soil
  • 2 herb plants, such as basil and cilantro
  • 1 tomato plant
  • 1 packet of mixed greens lettuce seeds

Instructions:

  1. Fill each pot with potting soil, leaving about ¾” of head room at the top of each.
  2. Place one plant in each pot, ensuring the potting soil covers all the roots.
  3. To plant the lettuce, simply sprinkle the seeds on top of the soil and lightly cover with more soil.
  4. Water each pot well.
  5. Place in a sunny spot, water as needed, and enjoy!

References:

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5153451/

http://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/health/healthy_aging/healthy_body/the-brain-gut-connection