It turns out that moms forcing kids out into the sunshine might have led to some profound benefits to our immune systems.
According to recent findings reported in Science Advances, letting your kids play outside in natural environments for just one month can lead to a more robust immune system.
The researchers involved studied 75 children between the ages of 3 and 5, watching to see how environmental changes altered their skin and gut microbiota. They also tracked immune markers in their blood.
A natural environment includes no gravel, concrete, or plastic playthings but does require open spaces, trees, earth, and grasses.
The microbiota of the children with the new, natural outdoor spaces had shifted entirely, and featured a higher ratio of the anti-inflammatory proteins to pro-inflammatory proteins in their blood, showing their immune system was improving.
Dr. Aki Sinkkonen, one of the study authors, elaborated in a statement.
“We were surprised that the findings were so clear even though we did not get as many participants as we had hoped.”
If you’re thinking about why the microbiota of these kids was so necessary, and so telling, it’s because they have a huge effect on our wider health.
The trillion of microorganisms that live on and inside us can influence our risks of certain diseases, food cravings, mental health, and sometimes even our personalities.
What this study seems to confirm is that our surroundings and playing outside can play a huge role in the richness and diversity of bacteria in our bodies, and that’s not generally a bad thing.