It seems like common sense

Staff Writer
Woodford Times

Dr. David Rakel, an associate professor of family medicine at the University of Wisconsin and medical director of the UW Health Integrative Medicine program, said the human body needs to connect with nature and the outdoors to build greater immunity to disease.

“A theory called ‘hygiene hypothesis’ suggests we are staying too clean by remaining indoors with our hand sanitizer and anti-bacterial soap, and not training our immune system to become fully developed,” he says. 

Judging from the looks of my bathtub my boys and I are not staying too clean.

“There’s some promising research that shows kids who grow up playing in the dirt and on farms actually have less asthma and allergic rashes of the skin. In essence, kids who are exposed to bacteria and elements in nature train their immune systems to be better balanced, so in the long run, they may remain healthier.”

Rakel said getting outside at any time of the year, including the winter, is helpful.  But the summer sun seems to provide even greater benefits, so long as it’s done in moderation and the skin is not over-exposed.

“It could be the longer days,” he said. “You also get to appreciate the sense of community. There are more picnics, more triathlons, and more family reunions.  People are leaving their homes and making social connections, which are important to good health.”

Rakel adds that nature also has a positive impact on mood, and he often finds that his patients are less dependent on anti-depressants when it’s sunny and warm outside.

“It’s what research and common sense are pointing at,” he said.  “If I’m out in nature surrounded by beautiful trees, blooming flowers, watching my child play soccer with my neighbors, I’m going to perceive that as a more positive experience than sitting inside a cubicle with recycled air.”

He gets no argument from me.