“By altering our brain chemistry, microbes may be able to manipulate our behavior to influence the food choices we make or the environments we visit,” Robinson says. “Part of this process could involve our decisions to spend time in nature, that is, to be [surrounded by] invisible biodiversity and phytochemicals that are potentially beneficial to our health.”
And what's more, this knowledge (if proven), could have disease-fighting implications. After all, we know rates of allergies and asthma have been on the rise as humans have become further removed from the natural world. Rates of cardiovascular diseases like heart disease and stroke are continuing to climb as well, with chronic inflammation often being an underlying issue.
But we know getting some nature time can help both of those things: “Our diminishing connection with the natural world is thought to contribute to a rising trend in non-communicable diseases, such as chronic inflammatory conditions and allergies,” adds Martin Breed, Ph.D.
There are so many great health-conscious reasons to get outside. We know it's good for our gut, which affects everything from confidence to energy levels. It's pretty cool to think our bodies are aware, too—and they want us to get those benefits. Get started with a little “earthing,” aka going barefoot on the ground.