Greener Play Areas Boost Children’s Immunities

Playing outdoors is good for the child’s immunity and according to research, the children that had their outdoor play areas transformed from gravel yards into mini forests experienced stronger immunity within a month.

The researchers believe this is a result of the child’s development of diverse microbes on the guts and skin when playing in these areas, unlike the children whose playgrounds weren’t upgraded.

Unfortunately, in the west, there’s a rise of autoimmune illnesses-the body is mistakenly attacking itself and this includes diseases such as eczema, diabetes, IBS, MS, and asthma.

Many find the culprit in the hygiene hypothesis or the fact that children in the past were exposed to more microbes than those today and thus, their immunities are less challenged and more prone to mistakes.

Exposure to Microbial Diversity & a Strong Immunity

Studies done previously have already found links between a stronger immunity and exposure to various microbes. However, this is the first one which deliberately changed the urban kids’ environment.

They believe that this experiment shows that there’s room for improvement of the immunity with simple changes such as the children’s environment.

For the purposes of the study, 75 children from 2 Finnish cities were included, but this is still a small number for a trial. Still, they claim the results were surprising as they were quite strong.

According to the head of the research, Aki Sinkkonen from the Natural Resources Institute in Finland, their study is the beginning of the new preventive ways to reduce the immune-related diseases globally.

Children Need Nature to Develop Stronger Immunities

Professor Graham Rook from the University College in London notes that this is wonderful work. A lot of the disorders increasing in the urban environments in the west are a result of the incapacity of the immunity to tackle with the challenges.

In this way, the study showed us that exposure of children to biodiverse nature can boost their biomarkers. The researchers installed turf from natural forest floors, set dwarf shrubs, crowberry, mosses, and blueberries in the previously bare play areas.

The kids spent averagely 90 minutes per day here and were encouraged to play both with the plants and the soil. This wasn’t challenging at all, explain the researchers, as the green area was the most exciting thing in the yard.

After 28 days, tests of the children’s skin found that their microbe diversity was 3 times higher than those who were still playing in gravel yards and their microbes in the gut also significantly elevated.

Their blood samples showed good changes too.

Sources:

THE GUARDIAN

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