The dirtier the ride, the better
I always feel better once my tires hit the gravel and I set off into the woods. The further I go, the dirtier the ride, the happier I am at the end. But is this increasing ease and pleasure we experience in nature simply coming from escaping reality to de-stress?
Nope. Scientists have discovered that bacteria living in mosses on tree branches and in the dirt are floating through the air and interacting with us—in particular, with the bacteria in our gut. And this dirt bacteria has been proven to enhance our well-being and have antidepressant effects. Microbes like bacteria and fungi are often associated with disease, however most microbes are beneficial.
Let’s do a line!
If you want to experience the intense pleasure called euphoria, you may consider taking your mountain bike down some sweet lines, because a surefire way to get a healthy high on life is breathing in some forest air!
A big gulp of forest air contains three major ingredients: beneficial bacteria, plant-derived essential oils and negatively-charged ions. Mother Nature’s trio enhances our well-being, gives us a boost of happiness and evidence shows it’s interacting with our gut-dwelling bacteria to help regulate our immune systems.
Dirt is superfood
There’s a reason shinrin-yoku, or forest bathing, has become an integral aspect of preventive medicine in Japan over the last 30 years—they understand the healing power of nature.
Instead of spending hundreds of dollars on supplements, antidepressants and other manufactured products, you may consider uncovering the miracle medicines hiding right beneath your wheels. Studies at Bristol University and Sage Colleges concluded that soil-based organisms make us happier and smarter, help regulate the immune system, reduce inflammation, break down food in our gut, assist us with detoxification and even positively influence our genetic expression.
Negative ions help us positively charge on
Negative ions are odourless, tasteless and invisible molecules that are produced by water evaporation. We inhale these ions in abundance when out in the woods, and they have numerous benefits:
These ions find their way to our bloodstream and help alleviate depression and relieve stress by increasing the happy chemical serotonin.
Negative ions also help your brain by promoting alpha brain waves and increased brain wave amplitude which results in a higher awareness level.
Helps with sleep
Negative ions play a role in increasing blood flow through dilation of the capillaries. This enhances the blood flow which in turn, regulates the production of chemicals in the brain.
Essential oils that fight disease
When we breathe in the forest air, we breathe in phytoncides—an essential oil emitted by plants & trees to protect themselves from harmful germs and insects. Phytoncides have antibacterial and antifungal qualities which help plants fight disease. Our bodies respond to phytoncides by increasing the number and activity of a type of white blood cell called natural killer cells or NK. These cells kill tumor and virus-infected cells in our bodies, and studies in Japan have found that a three-day nature trip with two hours of forest bathing in a day increased anti-cancer proteins by 26 percent.
Increased oxygen & decreased inflammation
Forest air is noticeably fresher since the trees are busy converting CO2 into oxygen. Not only is the air fresher and helping oxygenate your blood, the terpenes compounds naturally released by trees decrease inflammation.
Thank your Mother Nature
Mother nature has created a means of ensuring that we remain protected from harmful conditions. And as we’ve seen, one such creation is probiotics—the friendly bacteria. So, go spend some time with your mamma and show her a little respect, because a powerful antidote to many of your problems is only a bike ride away.