I love this new research from Finland. It makes me wants to rip up old gravel playgrounds and turn them into mini-forests everywhere! The study finds children who play in forests and parkland type environments (rather than gravel yards) have stronger immune systems.
The study proved for the first time a definite link between environmental bioversity, the human microbiome and the immune system in young children.
It was a small study involving 75 children. Scientists looked at urban daycare centres with little or no green space. In 4 of these daycare centres, they covered the gravel and created a mini-forest and mini-parkland, with a forest floor, grass, peat and plants.
The children played outside in the created mini-forest and mini-parkland for up to 2 hours a day - planting plants, crafting natural materials and playing games.
Can you imagine the kids faces as they came out and discovered their former gravel yard had been transformed into a mini-forest! They would have loved it!
And the results: By changing from gravel to this mini-forest and mini-parkland, the children seemed to have stronger immune systems; there were positive changes to proteins and cells (regulatory T calls and inflammatory cytokines) associated with people with robust immune systems.
"The 28-day-long intervention that included enrichment of daycare center yards for microbial biodiversity was associated with changes in the skin and gut microbiota of children, which, in turn, were related to changes in plasma cytokine levels and Treg cell frequencies."
Easy to understand article in Medical Express:
Marja I. Roslund et al. Biodiversity intervention enhances immune regulation and health-associated commensal microbiota among daycare children, Science Advances (2020). DOI: 10.1126/sciadv.aba2578 https://advances.sciencemag.org/content/6/42/eaba2...