By Kelli Pitrone, Registered Dietitian & Vivante Health Nutrition Team Manager
Having an at-home garden is a nutritionally and financially healthy way to improve your health, and it’s really easy to do!
Gardening and the Gut-Brain Connection
Growing your own food is fun and fulfilling, but it’s also been shown to improve a plethora of health conditions, in particular mental health. Gardening is a tool used by many to improve symptoms of depression and anxiety. Mental health is something that is often overlooked but can have a drastic effect on the digestive system.
Our GI tract contains millions of cells known as the enteric nervous system. The enteric nervous system plays a major role in digestion and communicates directly with the brain. Some scientists believe that the enteric nervous system can cause big emotional shifts for individuals suffering from digestive disorders like IBS and IBD. It is also believed that the irritation felt in the intestines sends signals to the central nervous system, resulting in mood changes.
Here’s an excerpt from a Johns Hopkins paper explaining this important connection:
“For decades, researchers and doctors thought that anxiety and depression contributed to these problems. But our studies and others show that it may also be the other way around.”
“These new findings may explain why a higher-than-normal percentage of people with IBS and functional bowel problems develop depression and anxiety,” Pasricha says. “That’s important, because up to 30 to 40 percent of the population has functional bowel problems at some point.”
With evidence of the strong gut-brain connection, it’s important to seek out ways to calm them both. Gardening is a wonderful option.
Container Gardening Instructions
A great way to get started is with a container garden that can be placed in a sunny spot indoors or outdoors. Container gardening means that the vegetables and fruits are grown in a pot or other dirt-holding medium versus being planted straight into the ground or a garden bed.
- 4 large pots
- 1 large bag of potting soil
- 2 herb plants, such as basil and cilantro
- 1 tomato plant
- 1 packet of mixed greens lettuce seeds
- Fill each pot with potting soil, leaving about ¾” of head room at the top of each.
- Place one plant in each pot, ensuring the potting soil covers all the roots.
- To plant the lettuce, simply sprinkle the seeds on top of the soil and lightly cover with more soil.
- Water each pot well.
- Place in a sunny spot, water as needed, and enjoy!
About Vivante Health
Vivante Health is an innovative digital healthcare company reinventing the way chronic conditions are managed. Our mission is to fill the unmet needs of people living with chronic conditions that are invisible, neglected, or stigmatized, starting with digestive disease. Our health management ecosystem, GIThrive™, empowers people—through brilliant technology and advanced science—to spend less time worrying about their digestive condition and more time living life.