April is National Garden Month. What better way to increase your consumption of fresh, tasty produce than to grow it yourself? By growing your own food, you can cultivate an atmosphere that reduces stres. In addition, eating your own pesticide-free produce, can help you tend to your inner garden – your gut microbiome.
Getting outdoors and growing your own food has so many benefits – too many to list, but here are my top 15:
1. Being in the sun allows your body to create the hormone vitamin D, which is crucial to overall health. Most people do not have optimal levels of vitamin D and over time, this can lead to numerous health consequences.
2. Being outdoors lowers your blood pressure. Studies suggest that being in nature can actually lower your blood pressure as much as medication.
3. Working in the soil provides valuable bacteria to keep your microbiome healthy. Being exposed to many different types of bacteria is actually beneficial and allows your own immune system to develop and work optimally.
4. Growing a garden will help you save money. You can grow a wide variety of produce, which can be frozen for later use when it’s not in season and higher in cost.
5. Growing your own garden allows you to be in control of your exposure to pesticides. Conventionally grown produce is loaded with pesticide residues, some of which are known carcinogens (ie glyphosate).
6. Growing your own food allows you to reduce your grocery budget.
7. Being outdoors reduces depression and other symptoms of mental illness.
8. Growing your own food allows you to increase nutritional value. Conventionally grown produce is less nutritionally dense for a variety of reasons.
9. People who grow their own food, tend to have healthier diets overall, which can translate into lower rates of disease.
10. Growing your own food as a family can teach your kids valuable lessons like responsibility, patience, and the importance of a plant-based diet.
11. Gardening can be a fun activity for the entire family and promote social connection.
12. You can share your produce with other families and create a healthier community.
13. Gardening allows you to experiment with new types of produce and learn about new foods.
14. Gardening adds valuable activity to your day. You'll likely spend less time on the couch in the evenings.
15. Consuming more produce helps you obtain valuable phytonutrients, fiber, vitamins, minerals, and water to help keep your gut healthy. And a healthy gut microbiome is central to overall health.
If you’ve never grown your own food, it can seem like a challenge, but it’s really very simple and can be done almost anywhere. Check out this article for more information on how to start a garden in a small space. And check out this link for more tips on starting a garden from scratch.
Once you’ve had your first harvest, try some new recipes with the different produce you’ve grown. I love this recipe. It’s fresh, full of flavor AND super nutritious:
1 Avocado, diced
2 Large Cucumbers, chopped
1 Red Onion, chopped
¼ c Olive Oil
Salt and Pepper, to taste
Arugula and Spinach
Mix the first 5 ingredients well and serve chilled over the arugula and spinach
Tip: This dish can be enjoyed at breakfast, lunch or dinner – it’s a great way to get in some vegetable servings first thing in the morning!
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