By Jaclyn, contributing writer
The Texas sun really did a number on our garden this summer. Between the heat and the bugs ravaging the tomatoes, green beans, and corn, everything had all but shriveled up until recently, when the heat finally abated and the chickens got after the bugs. Now that we’ve been getting a little rain and it’s beginning to cool off as fall rolls in, I’m dreaming about my fall garden.
While everyone knows that fresh produce from your own backyard is the epitome of healthy eating, there are a few lesser-known reasons gardening is good for your gut. Not only do I look forward to reaping the benefits of fresh veggies, but I love knowing all the other good stuff I’m doing for my body while I’m at it.
Three Reasons Planting a Fall Garden is Good for Your Gut
Pretty much all of my health initiatives focus on gut health: I take probiotics, eat a clean diet, and drink broth. The gut is the foundation of health: it hosts the majority of your immune system, processes your food to give you the nutrients you need, and even effects your emotional and cognitive health.
If you’re thinking about starting a fall garden, here are three reasons your gut will thank you.
#1 Allows You to Avoid Pesticides and Herbicides
I know this seems like a no-brainer, but do you know how badly these toxins affect your gut health?
One study found that glyphosate, a common ingredient in herbicides (namely Roundup), may be linked to celiac disease. Glyphosate is sprayed on crops one to two weeks before harvest in order to kill the plants and cause them to dry up in time for harvest.
Another study found that toxins such as pesticides affect gut health and promote autoimmune disease.
If you want to protect your gut by growing your own food, avoid harmful pesticides and herbicides, and use natural means to control insects and weeds if you need to.
Some options you can try include
- Diatomaceous Earth– like this (sprinkle on and around the plants.)
- Peppermint essential oil like this (dilute in a spray bottle and spray around the garden.)
- Neem oil-based insecticide and fungicide like this (follow the directions on the bottle.)
#2 Exposes You to Soil-based Organisms
You may be thinking “well, obviously.” Of course, we all know that if you garden, you’re going to get your hands dirty. But did you know that garden soil contains billions of tiny, gut-healing bacteria?
Soil-based organisms (SBOs) are highly sought after as a way of promoting good bacteria growth in the gut. SBO probiotic supplements are great, but another great way of getting those good, dirty germs in your body? Gardening!
When you play in the dirt, you take in those good bacteria via your skin membranes, sinuses, respiration, and, probably, through your mouth (we all put our hands in our mouth at some point). Better yet, I rarely wash my produce when I bring it in straight from my garden, so I definitely ingest some of the SBOs that way as well (which is a good reason to not be hyper-diligent about washing fresh, organic produce from your own backyard).
- help balance bacteria in the gut
- are ideal for helping indiviuals prone to diarrhea
- promote absorption of short-chain fatty acids, which nourish the colon
- assist in the absorption of vitamins.
#3 Gardening Activities Keep Things Moving
In our modern day of spending lots of time sitting, most of us rarely do an activity that our ancestors did every day: squatting.
When you plant your fall garden, you will be squatting to plant the seeds, squatting to pick weeds, and, later, squatting to reap the benefits of picking your harvest.
Squatting helps to keep your gut healthy by keeping your bowels moving.
Sedentary lifestyles are not conducive for healthy bowel movements and lead to constipation. When you squat, you squeeze and squish your intestines, which helps to move waste, initiating peristalsis (the contracting of the of the intestinal muscles, which creates wavelike movements that push the contents of your intestines out).
There is lots of good information now about how squatting benefits your bathroom activities. In recent years, a stool which helps to put your body in the squatting position while going to the bathroom has become popular. Read more about the Squatty Potty.
While I don’t have time to get a lot of exercise between mom-ming, writing, homeschooling, cooking, and gardening, I rest assured in knowing that an active lifestyle helps keep things moving. Most days, I count gardening as my exercise for the day.
Are You Planning a Fall Garden?
There are lots of good reasons why you should, not the least of which is your gut health!
I can’t wait to plant cabbage (which I’ll use to make my famous garlic-dill kraut), Brussels sprouts, broccoli, cauliflower, and lettuce- not only will I have the satisfaction of eating whole, healthy foods from my own backyard, but my gut will thank me too.