There are countless studies that prove ecotherapy (often referred to as nature therapy) is beneficial for your physical and mental health.
- What was once considered a simple practice and ideology about the benefits of nature has been proven in multiple studies to positively impact our physical and mental health.
- Some of the benefits of spending time in nature can be: a boost in killer-cells that fight off viruses, an ability to maintain focus and improvement in mental health conditions such as anxiety, depression and other mood disorders.
- To explain the all-encompassing benefits of nature, the Japanese have coined the term "shinrin yoku", which translates to "forest bathing."
How nature therapy works to better your physical and mental health<img type="lazy-image" data-runner-src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8yMzI4ODczOS9vcmlnaW4uanBnIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTY1MzAxMDI2MX0.vJdHUPtd6Ca9gwe0okWsDNdjLEq0HCdsfHfKewgykyI/img.jpg?width=1245&coordinates=0%2C263%2C0%2C1&height=700" id="c0920" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="138dd9a6e3620f581b2a2d2816c6d83f" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" alt="forest and trees concept of nature therapy ecotherapy" />
A simple walk in the forest can have more of a positive impact on your health than you may realize.
Beautiful? Yes. Air purifiers? Not so fast.
- A new meta-analysis at Drexel University shows that house plants are not effective for purifying the air of toxins.
- A 1989 NASA report that claimed indoor plants are purifying was not conducted in realistic living conditions.
- Indoor plants have positive effects on our mental health, just not in regards to air quality.
Jill Valley-Orlando organizes houseplants from a recent shipment in the greenhouse at Broadway Gardens on Wednesday, January 16, 2019.
Staff photo by Brianna Soukup/Portland Portland Press Herald via Getty Images<p>This matters as humans spend, on average, 90 percent of their time indoors. On top of this, Cummings and Waring note that, "Much, though not all, of indoor pollution is sourced directly from the indoor environment itself." Air fresheners, paints, glues, printers, and permanent markers (among other manufactured products) add VOCs into the air we breathe. Poor indoor air quality has been implicated in a variety of health risks, including respiratory diseases and headaches.</p><p>All is not lost, however. As the authors note, "Indoor plants, by helping to create a more biophilic indoor environment, may have a positive impact on occupant well-being." However, they write that indoor plants have a tendency to raise humidity levels. Some even produce VOCs of their own.</p><p>Nothing is ever a clear-cut as it seems. This is not a call for removing house plants. They make a lovely addition to home and office environments. We just have to recognize that their appeal is aesthetic and emotional, not as agents in our long quest for purity. </p><p>--</p><p><em>Stay in touch with Derek on <a href="http://www.twitter.com/derekberes" target="_blank">Twitter</a> and <a href="https://www.facebook.com/DerekBeresdotcom" target="_blank">Facebook</a>. His next book is </em>Hero's Dose: The Case For Psychedelics in Ritual and Therapy.</p>
Research explains the positive impact and health benefits of children spending more time in nature.
- "Nature-deficit disorder" is the term coined by author Richard Louv, to help put a name to the ever-growing problems associated with children spending less time in nature.
- Research has provided evidence that prove Richard Louv's theories on the importance of nature to the human body and mind. This research proves a link between time spent in nature and improvements in areas such as motivation, problem-solving and self-esteem.
- There are many simple, actionable ways parents and educators of young children can incorporate nature back into the lives of children both in school and at home, such as starting outdoor playgroups or reintegrating nature into the school curriculum.
What do our children lose by not experiencing enough nature?<img type="lazy-image" data-runner-src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8yMjYwMTAxOS9vcmlnaW4uanBnIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTYxNDkxMzIzMn0.6Nv9gWaCR3JAEAX50PKR_4Qotf4kpvM42qODWSz45N0/img.jpg?width=1245&coordinates=0%2C589%2C0%2C589&height=700" id="39022" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="3536da120f23b881a2dbe3ef6cb051f4" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" alt="young girl in jeans running through the trees in nature" />
Multiple research studies have proven the positive impacts time spent in nature has on the growing mind and body.
Researchers have gathered evidence that proves exposure to nature is important to the physical and mental health of children<p>The American Institutes for Research (AIR) <a href="http://www.seer.org/pages/research/AIROutdoorSchool2005.pdf" target="_blank">conducted another study in 2005</a> that focused on 255 sixth-grade students from elementary schools across California. These students attended three outdoor education programs between the months of September and November.</p><p>The study evaluated the children across eight different constructs: self-esteem, cooperation, conflict resolution, leadership, relationship with peers, problem-solving ability, motivation to learn and overall behavior in class. </p><p>The children were split into two camps: One group of students did the outdoor schooling sessions first, and the other group was used as a baseline and would do the same outdoor schooling sessions after the first program had finished.</p><p>Ten weeks after the first study concluded, the positive change in the children was very obviously noted in the post-experiment surveys, with the children who attended the outdoor schooling sessions first showing large improvements in the area of conflict resolution. </p><p>The remaining group of children who had not yet completed the outdoor schooling sessions scored significantly lower across 7 of the 8 constructs that were being measured. </p><p>The teachers of the children were also asked to submit surveys (separate from the surveys done by the researchers) about the children before and after the experiment. According to the before and after remarks of the teachers, the children who attended outdoor schooling in the first camp showed significant positive gains in the areas of self-esteem, problem-solving, motivation to learn, and behavior in class. </p><p>Along with these findings, it was also discovered that the students who attended the outdoor training sessions raised their grades in the science department by up to 27% (according to the pre-survey and post-survey answers). This increase in grades was maintained for up to 10 weeks following the program. </p>
How parents (and educators) can easily and affordably reconnect children with nature<img type="lazy-image" data-runner-src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8yMjYwMTAyMS9vcmlnaW4uanBnIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTYwNTA5NjQxNn0.49nqn5WjKxccCaiMKhCLnLX5VYH2uRsthoxHvAz2evg/img.jpg?width=1245&coordinates=0%2C431%2C0%2C432&height=700" id="39ee8" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="af1bde198bd6875d9a15a7c0fcaad412" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" alt="three boys lying outside under a tree with leaves on a sunny day" />
There are many easy and affordable ways you can incorporate nature back into your child's life.
Designers from Luxembourg created a smart planter that can give anyone a green thumb.
- A design team came up with a smart planter that can indicate 15 emotions.
- The emotions are derived from the sensors placed in the planter.
- The device is not in production yet but you can order it through a crowdfunding campaign.
Check out this video of Lua for more:<span style="display:block;position:relative;padding-top:56.25%;" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="5ee8c3d0b252bd12c413f3474e112332"><iframe type="lazy-iframe" data-runner-src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/kAPTF25rn4s?rel=0" width="100%" height="auto" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" style="position:absolute;top:0;left:0;width:100%;height:100%;"></iframe></span>
New research solves a long-standing puzzle.
- Breeders found a genetic tweak that made tomatoes easier to pick, but they didn't grow as well.
- Modern technology has revealed an ancient surprise hidden in the fruit.
- New research showcases how much we're still learning about crop gene editing.
Growing the perfect tomato<img type="lazy-image" data-runner-src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8xOTQ1Njc1Ni9vcmlnaW4uanBnIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTYzMDE2MTE0N30.1ujDBcULx3OGGTeOKNEWMXboKP-IeoWxo8TGJkO_EFo/img.jpg?width=980" id="88b39" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="6d951ae970c3402d995fc42889b285a8" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" />
Image source: Smit / Shutterstock<p>When we think of a choice tomato, we're likely to picture a red, juicy orb of flavor, and Campbell's no doubt does, too. However, given the uncountably huge number of tomatoes they need for their soup, there are other considerations as well, such as the ease with which the fruit can be plucked from growers' vines by automated pickers.</p><p>Back in the 1960s, farmers noticed a tomato strain whose fruit came easily off the vine, cleanly separating at the tomato's top. What was unique about the plant was that its stems lacked a bend, or joint, so that when their fruit was gently pulled, they popped right off.</p><p>Using traditional plant-breeding techniques, Campbell's growers promoted this "j2" (for "jointless 2") mutation, ultimately developing a "jointless" tomato. However, the tomato had a problem: While it <em>was</em> easy to harvest, it would branch and flower before bearing much fruit. Lead CHSL researcher <a href="https://www.cshl.edu/research/faculty-staff/zachary-lippman/" target="_blank">Zach Lippman</a> recalls, "Even that first plant from Campbell company was described as having excessive branching."</p><p>Breeders in Florida persisted in trying new variants with j2. Eventually they stumbled across a plant that was both jointless and grew well, and the rest is tomato-soup history.</p><p>But not quite: It was an unexplained genetic solution to a problem, leaving j2 a "cryptic genetic variation." As Lipmann explains: "On its own, the single mutation has no obvious effect on the health or the fitness or the vigor of the plant. But when another mutation happens along with it and there is a negative interaction, that's the cryptic mutation revealing itself."</p>
Modern tools solve the riddle<img type="lazy-image" data-runner-src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8xOTQ1Njc2NC9vcmlnaW4uanBnIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTY1MTA5OTU2Mn0.VVf0eBAbi64YAaWJb7GW86bwdg16byzlzvm6J7hcMR4/img.jpg?width=980" id="ec9aa" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="23cd22d26b9a773eedf5d1edd10603cd" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" />
Image source: Kyselova Inna / Shutterstock<p>Lipmann and his colleague <a href="https://www.cshl.edu/research/postdoctoral-research/postdocs/sebastian-soyk/" target="_blank">Sebastian Soyk</a> analyzed the plants' genetic makeup and identified the interaction that caused the early branching and flowering. It was a conflict between j2 and an ancient gene mutation likely dating back 4,000 years. "The ancient mutation," asserts Lipmann, "normally 'breaks' the [j2] gene. It reduces the functional activity of that gene by 30 percent."</p><p>More surprising was the manner in which the Florida growers had inadvertently solved the conflict. One might imagine that they somehow managed to breed out the ancient gene, but that's not what happened. Their efforts produced a <em>second copy </em>of that ancient gene that cancelled out the first. It seems that this particular gene acts something like an on/off switch. Regarding this, Lipmann says, "If I suddenly have two copies of that mutated gene, we're back to nearly full functional activity. This duplication event was naturally occurring, so basically, nature provided the solution to its own problem."</p>
The takeaway<img type="lazy-image" data-runner-src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8xOTQ1Njc3MS9vcmlnaW4uanBnIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTYzODA0NDIyM30.7gZhArZBsn45TFxzXUrCqf3f4r3spjoaU8auzffJP_c/img.jpg?width=980" id="30909" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="7bb091912aa84b9d3530ffbf08ba686f" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" />
Image source: Jiri Hera / Shutterstock<p>This odd little story underscores how much we still have to learn about genomes. "The example we presented is very a black and white case," Lippman says. "However, I'm pretty confident saying that there are going to be many examples of cryptic variation that are much more nuanced and subtle in their effects."</p><p>With powerful tools at our disposal such as CRISPR, we're still just at the beginning of our understanding, and there are far more critical, life-or-death, circumstances in which new technologies are being deployed. As CSHL found, though, Mother Nature continues to have some rabbits in her hat. </p><p>As Lipmann's research shows, "If you have a particular gene that you want to use to improve a trait, for example, by gene editing, it may very well be that the outcome is not going to be what you expected."</p>