Summertime is creeping up! Kids are antsy to be out of school, the sun shines brighter, and you’re probably trying to become healthier as you shed your bulky winter wardrobe and enter swimsuit season.
Among my favorite warmer-weather ventures include visiting a local farmers market or roadside produce stand for seasonal fruits, vegetables, and other nutrient-rich plant foods.
Eating locally grown, seasonal foods creates more mindfulness about your day-to-day food choices while supporting the local economy and fostering community.
Buying from your local farmers and speaking with growers also creates lasting friendships that build trust around the food you eat and feed your family.
This year, my goals include taking that philosophy one step further by creating a garden. Planting a summer garden makes a great hobby, provides physical activity, and dramatically improves your gut health.
Garden-garden food has a completely different nutrient profile than mass-produced fruit and veggies that positively impacts your microbiome.
Unfortunately, things like urbanization, spending less time in nature, and increased sanitization have negatively impacted the gut. Daily life stresses out and subsequently alters your microbiome.
Farming methods have also changed as poor land management, mass production, antibiotics, and pesticides lower the quality of the soil. (1) Poor-quality soil depletes essential nutrients in vegetables and fruits.
Farmers often use glyphosate for conventionally grown food. This pesticide contains high antimicrobial properties, killing off unwanted weeds while allowing a plant to grow.
That’s good for manufacturers but bad for you. Glyphosate’s high toxicity and antimicrobial properties negatively affect overall human health. Glyphosate can reduce absorption of micronutrients, impair metabolic pathways, negatively impact digestion, and alter microbiome balance.
Studies show this pesticide can also contribute to obesity, autism, memory impairment, infertility, depression, and even cancer. (2)
Simply put, food grown with pesticides often comes loaded with toxins but fewer nutrients. That’s why I want you to consider a summer garden, free of pesticides and other toxic substances!
Organic soil is loaded with beneficial gut bacteria. In fact, one teaspoon of organic soil contains millions of microbes. These soil microbes provide essential nutrients for the plants, which they can uptake through their roots. (3)
This process yields nutrient-dense foods with higher antioxidant levels, vitamins, and minerals. Seasonal foods also contribute to a healthy microbial diversity.
You needn’t make gardening a full-time hobby (who has time, anyway?) to get these benefits. My strategies for planting a summer garden to eat seasonal, organic, and homegrown include:
When you embark on creating your garden, make sure you purchase organic seeds and soil. You can even purchase worm castings, which contain essential minerals and stimulate plant growth.
Keep it Simple
Your garden doesn’t have to be elaborate. Start with a few potted herbs or plants. Fresh herbs offer numerous health benefits while seasoning main dishes and salads.
Make this a Stress-Lowering Activity
Gardening can relieve stress. Working with the plants and having physical contact with the earth can reduce inflammation in the body and promote relaxation. That feeling of pure bliss can promote a Happy Gut!
Eat the Dirt
Instead of soaking and scrubbing garden-picked food, gently wash it. A little leftover dirt and microbes will do your gut good!
Have fun with your garden or potted plants! Join a club or have the family get involved. Community and laughter are all important parts of healing the body and gut.
Make Smart Buying Choices
If you can’t have your own garden, these alternatives can also provide you fresh, organic, seasonal, locally grown food.
Local Co-Op: Co-Ops offer local and seasonal foods in your community.
Community Supported Agriculture (CSA): Purchasing a CSA share allows you the option to enjoy high-quality food that is grown close to home.
Farmers Market: More cities have these nowadays. I love hitting up my Farmers Market in Manhattan on a Saturday morning!
A garden provides a perfect way to get closer to the ground (literally and figuratively). Research shows people who live near farms and nature are healthier than individuals who live in urban areas. (1)
No matter where you live, you can incorporate nutrient-rich seasonal food. If these options are a big stretch for you and your household, refer to the Environmental Working Group to learn about the worst- and least-pesticide loaded produce. Their guide can help you make the most informed decisions about what foods you should buy organic.
To jumpstart your journey to a better gut and overall health right now, check out my Quick Start to a Happy Gut.
- Tasnim, N., Abulizi, N., Pither, J., Hart, M. M., & Gibson, D. L. (2017). Linking the Gut Microbial Ecosystem with the Environment: Does Gut Health Depend on Where We Live? Frontiers in Microbiology, 8, 1935.
- .Samsel, A., & Seneff, S. (2013). Glyphosate, pathways to modern diseases II: Celiac sprue and gluten intolerance. Interdisciplinary Toxicology, 6(4), 159–184.
- V. (2015, December 15). Organic Farming Improves Soil Health. Retrieved April 17, 2018, from http://www.ofrf.org/news/organic-farming-improves-soil-health-1