In Finland, care homes have added a forest-like floor, and this is what happened to the immunity of children
Playing in green spaces, holding dirt, and touching young forest bushes for only one month may be enough to change the immune system of children, this is what I found Small study But it is extremely important in the time of the Corona pandemic.
When workers in a childcare in Finland provided the back garden with green grass and soil in which some plants were planted and then allowed children to take care of the crops, the diversity of microbes in the guts and skin of young children began in a short period of time.
Compared to other city kids who play in urban nurseries with yards of sidewalks, tiles and gravel, 3, 4 and 5 year olds at these green daycare centers in Finland showed an increase in T cells and other important immune cells in their blood in just 28 days.
Nature is essential for children’s immunity
Environmental scientist Maria Roslund of the University of Helsinki told the website Sciencealert: “We also found that the gut microbes of the children who visited the green spaces were similar to the intestinal microbes of the children who visited the forest every day.”
Previous research has shown that early exposure to green space somehow correlates with a well-functioning immune system, but it remains unclear if this relationship is causal or not.
This Finnish experiment is the first to explicitly manipulate a child’s urban environment and then test for changes in the microbiome and thus the child’s immune system.
Environmental microbes and children’s microbiomes
Although the results do not carry all the answers, they support a pioneering idea that Alteration in environmental microbes It can easily affect an established microbiome in babies, giving the immune system a helping hand in the process.
The effect of the environment rich in living organisms affects the immunity of humans, and this phenomenon is known as the “biodiversity hypothesis”.
Based on this hypothesis, the loss of urban biodiversity could be at least partly responsible for the recent rise in immune-related diseases.
The authors write: “The results of this study support the hypothesis of biological diversity and that its decrease in the modern living environment may lead to an uneducated immune system, and thus increase the spread of immune diseases.”
The study compared the environmental microbes found in the yards of 10 different day centers in the city caring for a total of 75 children between the ages of 3 and 5 years.
Some of these day care centers contained green yards as well as other constructed spaces, while others took children outside to spend a daily break in nature, and the yards of four of them were modernized with herbaceous plants and forest soil.
The researchers tested the microbiome in the guts of the children and on their skin, before and after the experiment, and the results were found to be very improved compared to the first group of children who played in an environment that was less in contact with nature.
Children who went out and played in dirt, grass and among trees, an increase appeared in a microbe called gamma proteobacteria, to boost the skin’s immune defense.
Beneficial immune secretions increased in the blood and decreased interleukin-17a content, which is associated with immune-borne diseases.
“This supports the assumption that contact with nature prevents disorders in the immune system, such as autoimmune diseases and allergies,” says Senkonen.
Although the study needs more verification by applying it to larger groups and different environments, it confirms that green spaces and interaction with them are essential for the human immune system.
And it proved Previous research Playing outside is essential for children’s eye health, as well as promoting mental health, among other benefits.
This explains, to some extent, the decrease in infections, allergies, or asthma among children who live in suburbs and villages rather than in crowded cities.
Ecologist Aki Sinkkonen, also from the University of Helsinki, encourages “children to play in puddles and mud and dig natural organic soil with their hands.”
“We can take our children to nature 5 times a week, to have an effect on microbes,” he said.
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