I just finished reading this fascinating book called Your Brain on Nature The Science of Nature’s Influence on Your Health, Happiness, and Vitality by Eva M. Selhub and Alan C. Logan! I’ve always had this tendency to gravitate towards non-fiction when choosing my books; I like having the feeling that I’m acquiring knowledge as well as sitting down to enjoy a good read. But this one is especially packed with mind blowing facts on the topic of how important a connection with nature really is for personal health (health, happiness and vitality to be specific). It’s one I’ll definitely be rereading and referring back to a lot as I build the Naturessence coaching business and website.
Your Brain on Nature falls into the same love nature and the outdoors for the good of your health genre as Last Child in the Woods, There’s No Such Thing as Bad Weather, and Balanced and Barefoot. All of which I have previously read and enjoyed but this book just seems to take the research a step farther. I feel like since the authors are a medical doctor and a naturopath you can really trust that they have done their research well.
Your Brain on Nature goes just that extra bit farther into the how and why of exactly how the human species would be so connected to everything green. Their conclusion is basically what’s good for the planet is good for your body; because everything we eat comes from the Earth therefore it just makes sense that if we poison the water, plants, air and other animals we will inevitably be poisoning ourselves.
“Our energy and well-being, physical and mental, are dependant in the main upon the composition and quality of the diet. All of it, except fish and other food taken from the ocean and inland waters, is derived from the soil, whether in the form of grains, fruits, or vegetables, or in the form of meat and milk of animals which, in turn, live upon plant life. Man must know and respect nature.”
National Education Association of the United States, 1951
The entire 8th chapter is about how a diet close to nature, as our ancestors would have eaten helps to ward off everything from depression, to oxidative stress, low-grade inflammation and even increase cognitive functioning!
“As we process away nature in all forms, including the dietary, we pay a physical price in the form of low-grade inflammation… There are also environmental consequences to our dietary habits and the agribusiness we currently support… If we can reconnect with nature by returning to whole foods, with a lean toward the Mediterranean diet and aspects of the diet consumed by our Paleolithic ancestors, the benefits to individual and planetary health will be many.” Pg. 179-180
On another page they go on to explain that by “Mediterranean” they don’t necessarily mean food that comes from that part of the globe; they mean a locally sourced diet rich in fruits, vegetables and nuts.
I also really enjoyed reading the chapters on the evolution of eco-therapy and eco-psychology (the prescription of Vitamin G as they call it) and the men and woman who fought to bring these practices into modern medicine both before scientific evidence and today as the evidence continues to mount in favour of Vitamin G. It’s fascinating but also slightly infuriating how many times society has rediscovered the benefits to fresh air, reduced stress and long walks only to forget about them and later rediscover them all over again under a different name. It seems shopping complexes, tech and pharmaceutical companies are better at making add campaigns than provincial parks; and we fall for them every time.
Now we have the evidence the previous generations lacked, we just need to spread the message loud and far and this time I hope the message sticks. And if dreamers can dream I hope that I can use this blog and the Naturessence website to be apart of this green movement. To bring simple and achievable health to everyone. If this interests you as well I strongly encourage you to read the books I mentioned above:
- Last Child in the Woods Saving Our Children from Nature-Deficit Disorder by Richard Louv
- There’s No Such Thing as Bad Weather A Scandinavian Mom’s Secrets for Raising Healthy, Resilient, and Confident Kids (from Friluftsliv to Hygge) by Linda Akeson McGurk
- Balanced and Barefoot How Unrestricted Outdoor Play makes for Strong, Confident and Capable Children by Angela J. Hanscom
They are all chock full of fascinating information, are very well written and easy to understand. No science degree required here.
I know there are many more great reads of this genre out there, these are the ones I have had the privilege to read so far. Do you have a favourite that you think I should read next? I’d love to know what it is!