Science & Spirit: Take One Nature Pill a Day

Science & Spirit: Take One Nature Pill a Day


Science & Spirit presents three more easy ways to boost health, both mental and physical. We hope it will inspire you on your journey toward healthy living.

Wash Away Stress with Nature

A remedy that is free, natural, and stress-relieving? Yes, please! It’s a nature pill.

Researchers found that immersing in the outdoor world for 20 to 30 minutes, three times a week, significantly reduces the stress hormone cortisol. “We know that spending time in nature reduces stress, but until now it was unclear how much is enough, how often to do it, or even what kind of nature experience will benefit us,” wrote MaryCarol Hunter, an associate professor at the University of Michigan and lead author of a study in Frontiers in Psychology. “Our study shows that for the greatest payoff, in terms of efficiently lowering levels of the stress hormone cortisol, you should spend 20 to 30 minutes sitting or walking in a place that provides you with a sense of nature.” For maximum effect, the researchers suggest time outside during daylight hours, without aerobic exercise, and without distractions like the phone. (Read about forest bathing here.)

Adding Good Stuff to Diet

According to The Lancet, one in five deaths globally are associated with a poor diet. Here’s where I would normally give you stern lecture on all the things you need to stop eating—trans fats, sugary mega sodas, and those scary Vienna sausages.

But let’s flip that equation, and think instead: What needs to be increased in my diet? The research published in The Lancet suggests upping healthy dietary elements such as nuts and seeds, vegetables, whole grains, milk, legumes, and omega-3 fatty acids from seafood. You may soon find the quality food you’re eating crowd out the not-so-healthy options.

Mental Floss

Research is finding that a bacterium commonly found in the mouth, Porphyromonas gingivalis, may travel elsewhere in the body, releasing toxins that trigger diseases such as Alzheimer’s, rheumatoid arthritis, and aspiration pneumonia. “Oral hygiene is very important throughout our life, not only for having a beautiful smile but also to decrease the risk of many serious diseases,” wrote Jan Potempa, a professor at the University of Louisville School of Dentistry. Potempa presented the research during the 2019 Experimental Biology meeting in Orlando, Florida. The research suggests that preventing gum disease with regular flossing, annual trips to the dentist, and not smoking are key, especially if someone has a genetic predisposition to those illnesses.

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