Monday, April 20, 2015

Attune to Nature: Reset your Soil & Rhythms

Working in the Garden Teaches us humans how to bring what nourishes us into balance, to activate with the sun and to eat according to what Nature intends 

It's spring time and this past Sunday my son and I, along with other middle schoolers, worked as volunteers in his school's PTO Sponsored community garden. We began the garden project early in the year with an organic seed sale, and with money raised we purchased seeds and materials for our two 20' x 17' plots that are positioned on campus within the South Kingstown Community Gardens.

We've had great help from local organic growers who contributed to the garden's planning and evaluated our soil test, as well as donated the organic fertilizer to help balance out the soil nutrients. Last week the local BRMS Girl Scout troupe and other middle school volunteers and local farmer Alby Brandon (of Brandon Family Farm*) helped spread the mineral salts and food for the soil's beneficial bacteria.

 I think humans should do this every season too; get our nutrient levels measured, and balance out our needs by tending to our soil - our guts and the trillions of microbiota that need our care to stay in healthy proportions. We'd digest our food better, have healthier immunity and think more clearly. Actually, that's what a good spring cleanse does (check out my upcoming Spring Cleanse, hOMnaturale's Detox hOMe & Body 7 Day Nutrient Dense Cleanse below or to side).

It's the little micro biota's job to help digest and retrieve the nutrients from the soil, and in our case the food we put into our gut. It's our job to provide them, like gardeners tending the soil, with the right mineral and enzyme rich fibrous food (compost), to support healthy growth and functioning. This microbiota communicates to our brains, heart, and lungs through the neurotransmitters they create and transport (via amino acids the bacteria retrieve from our protein rich food, Inhibitory and Excitatory Neurotransmitters are created: GABA, serotonin, dopamine, norepinephrine and epinephrine) and as our first line of defense our bacteria's working transmitters alert the brain and body when substances enter the gut that are disruptive or downright toxic (using Excitatory Neurotransmitters) or when they are nourished (using Inhibitory Neurotransmitters). In the case of danger (too much sugar, toxic chemicals or artificial food) the excitatory neurotransmitters ignite inflammation as the body's warning sign, and in the case of safety and nourishment GABA, Serotonin and Dopamine transmit messages of calm and create a stable mood.  Too much Excitatory neurotransmitters in action imbalances the Inhibitory neurotransmitters, so you can see how what we put into our body and how our gut bacteria responds to it can make or break our health. "All health begins and ends in the gut." Hippocrates

The kids really enjoyed creating the garden beds and paths - every one loves to shovel dirt and be of use. Creating something so important and contributing to a community effort is emotionally rewarding and physically rejuvenating, and all the volunteer workers commented on how "fun it was".  Plenty of positive neurotransmissions were being released as their hands and knees got dirty. 

Our greatest treat was seeing a long garter snake near the garden with a very shocked toad in his mouth. Indeed, Earth Day week opened with a bang -  nature's food chains were witnessed first hand in the gaping mouth of a snake, and with the preparing of our garden beds.

After a couple of hours in the garden it felt great to wind down; fresh air and activity easily lends itself to an evening of relaxation... a cup of turmeric tea and a little journaling. Comparing that to a day spent imbalanced behind my computer when I often start working without brushing my teeth, or ignore lunch time or am carried away and late preparing dinner is a real reality check.  It is clearly an example of how important it is to attune to the natural world, to get outside in nature, to move and be active and productive and to stay healthfully in sync with how we are meant to operate and participate in this earthly existence. 

Here's a graphic on the circadian rhythms. It is interesting to see when the optimal time to rise is (6:45 AM when our blood pressure and cortisol hormone has sharpest rise) and when it's optimal time to eliminate (8:30 AM) and to be at our peak mentally (10:00 AM) and physically (2:30 -5 PM), and when to calm ourselves and meditate, or sip calming herb tea or red wine while preparing dinner (5 - 7 PM when blood pressure is highest), or to wind down and rest (7 PM when body temperature is highest) and be preparing for bed (when melatonin secretion starts at 9 PM), or in our most restorative deep sleep (2 AM - 4:30 AM). 

Circadian rhythms are physical, mental and behavioral changes that follow a roughly 24-hour cycle, responding primarily to light and darkness in an organism's environment. They are found in most living things, including animals, plants and many tiny microbes. Studies now show how even your all important gut bacteria (micro-biome) gets disrupted when we are thrown off our natural cycles (circadian rhythm or biological clock). Oh yes, mother nature, she sure is wise.

This Earth Day come join us in the garden 2-4 PM at BRMS, or get out in your own soil and nourish yourself with dirt, sun and fun or with a 7 Day Cleanse. Balance what's going on inside you within your own microbiome. Contact me at: rebeccabriggs9@gmail.comfor more information on Spring Detoxing.

An early spring fire side dinner of black beans and kale salad. A special way to wind down. 
Brandon Family Farm's organic produce is sold at the South County Food Coop and at his mother's downtown shop, Spangles, as well as this year at the Narragansett Farmer's Market which begins in June.  

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