The number of autoimmune diseases is rising, but experimental studies show that nature could help. Rates of autoimmune diseases, such as eczema, asthma, multiple sclerosis, and inflammatory bowel disease, are increasing. A possible explanation for this is that children are being exposed to fewer microbes than in the past.
IFL Science confirmed that spending time in the countryside boosts children’s immunity. Researchers at the University of Helsinki carried out a study on the impact that the countryside has on children`s health.
They examined how the playing ground affected children`s skin and immune system. It turned out that the natural ground was very beneficial for their overall health.
Children from ten daycare centers in Finland took part in the research. In four of the daycare centers, researchers replaced the usual playgrounds with a field of grass, and soil. The children spend about 90 minutes outside and were stimulated to play with soil and plants. Three of the other daycare centers used the old playgrounds, whereas the last three had a similar green playground.
The researchers came up with different results within a month. The natural playgrounds enhanced children`s immunity and helped them develop a higher ratio of anti-inflammatory proteins. Blood samples showed that there were significant changes to a variety of proteins and cells associated with the immune system, including regulatory T-cells and inflammatory cytokine.
The researchers believe that this happened because the children developed more diverse microbes on their skin.
Even though the researchers were only focused on the effects of natural bacteria on children`s body, the study also confirmed that it can also affect their mental health and personality. Replacing the urban environment with a natural one can improve our overall health.
Aki Sinkkonen, the author of the study, said that the children need to play in puddles and dig organic soil. Children need to spend time in nature 5 times a week for their immune systems to develop. This study showed how switching to natural play areas can significantly improve the health of our children and allow them to live a healthier life