Gardens are good for your brain–and a type of bacteria in the soil called Mycobacterium vaccae may be the reason why.

On Arizona Public Media, Gisela Telis quotes psychiatrist Charles Raison as saying, "What’s remarkable is that this microorganism seems to know how exactly to signal the brain areas we believe are most important for reducing depressive symptoms.

"Dirt has a lot of microbes in it–a lot of little bacteria and such–that we know impact the immune system in ways that actually enhance emotional resilience. It’s been shown a number of times now that people who live near green spaces, who have access to natural environments, live longer than people who don’t."
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We may be dirty, but exposure to common antibacterial chemicals and preservatives found in soap, toothpaste, mouthwash and other personal-care products may make children more likely to have food and environmental allergies.

Researcher Jennifer Savage says, "We saw a link between level of exposure, measured by the amount of antimicrobial agents in the urine, and allergy risk, indicated by circulating antibodies to specific allergens."

The antibacterials and preservatives THEMSELVES do not necessarily cause the allergies, but instead may play a role in the development of the immune system.
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We have a problem: We’re just too clean! The rise in allergies and autoimmune diseases during the past few decades may be at least partly due to our lack of exposure to the microorganisms in dirt.

We once walked barefoot in the dirt and washed it off of our food. Now we wear shoes and buy pre-washed vegetables from the grocery store, covered in plastic wrap. Even the increase in the rate of Caesarean section births means a potential loss of the germs that are usually passed from one generation to the next. The microorganisms in dirt establish "normal" background levels that keep our bodies from overreacting to germs.
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