But we have a long way to go before we can more fully understand the mechanisms by which an innate love of nature can benefit our health. An important part of this discussion – an overlooked one in our opinion – is further understanding of an individual’s connection to nature.
Psychologists have convincingly demonstrated connections between nature relatedness and mental well-being. But how does a greater personal affinity to nature interact with dietary habits, personal microbiome, physical activity levels and many other lifestyle variables that might be intertwined with having such an affinity?
In the meantime, while scientists turn over stones and search for important mechanistic clues – including those related to biodiversity – there are many simple ways to capitalise on our biophilia.
Why not run in the park or by a river instead of on a treadmill, or take a walk through a park on the way to work or at lunchtime?
Critically, there is increasing evidence that we can help shape our children’s mental and physical health by exposing them to more green environments as they work, rest and play. The US-based Children and Nature Network is a great resource of research news and activities bringing children and nature together.
In the World Health Organization report Connecting Global Priorities – Biodiversity and Human Health, released in December last year, it was concluded that:
Considering ‘microbial diversity’ as an ecosystem service provider may contribute to bridging the chasm between ecology and medicine/immunology [… ] the relationships our individual bodies have with our microbiomes are a microcosm for the vital relationships our species shares with countless other organisms with which we share the planet.
Latest news and some good links on our connection to Nature from TheConversation.com