Photo by Ryan Grzybowski
There are countless benefits to growing your own food. First, there’s the general satisfaction of knowing you can feed yourself and your family from something you grew. Farming your own food is also beneficial for the environment and a sustainable practice that everyone should try.
But, there are also plenty of health benefits when it comes to farming food. Fruits and vegetables are crucial parts of a heart-healthy diet that can prevent deadly heart conditions and diseases. You know exactly what you’re growing and how it’s been treated, so you know you’re getting the freshest, most organic produce possible from your backyard.
The actual work involved in gardening/farming can benefit your health, too, while helping you to stay active. So, why not be a part of the 35% of Americans who grow at least some of their own food? Your heart will thank you for it.
Nutrition and Exercise for Heart Health
The American Heart Association recommends that the average person gets at least 2.5 hours of physical activity each week. That might not seem like much. But, in a culture where most of our free time is swept up with technology or sitting in front of a desk at work, it can be difficult to find time to stay active.
Farming food is a great way to make sure you’re staying active, and you don’t need a gym membership for it. Growing your own food involves quite a bit of physical activity, including:
It’s a fantastic cardiovascular activity, and you won’t even realize you’re getting in a great workout while you’re planting or harvesting.
Of course, being physical is only half the battle when it comes to heart health. What you put into your body is equally important. One way to keep your heart healthy is to reduce your “bad” cholesterol levels. Thankfully, most fresh produce is naturally low in cholesterol, and can even help to bring down your levels by including more of them in your diet.
Some fruits and vegetables can even help to boost your immunity and keep you healthier and stronger thanks to the nutrients they provide. Some of the most nutrient-dense produce you can plant includes:
- Bell peppers
- Sweet potatoes
You’ve likely heard the saying ‘you are what you eat’. There is quite a bit of truth to that, and you can improve your health from the inside out by making positive changes to your diet and including more fresh fruits and vegetables.
The Healing Powers of Gardening
We could go on and on about the heart-healthy benefits of growing your food. But, in these uncertain times, it’s also important to talk about how gardening and farming can improve your overall wellness, including your mental health.
With more people staying home than ever in order to social distance, having a garden in your backyard can provide a place of relaxation and a place to unwind and de-stress. Since stress is known to promote the buildup of plaque in the arteries and increase blood pressure, it’s important for your heart health to reduce stress in your life as much as possible.
Think of growing your food in a garden as a way to unwind, relax, and “forget” about the rest of the world for a while. It’s a great way to offer your children an opportunity to relax and find their inner calm, too.
Your mind and body are connected. When you feel overwhelmed, especially by the current state of the world, step outside and tend to your garden for more than just the physical benefits.
Taking Care While Farming and Gardening
While farming is relaxing and small home gardens aren’t necessarily dangerous, there are still a few precautions you should take. That’s especially true if you’re new to growing your food. Some safety tips to keep in mind include:
- Wearing proper gardening gloves
- Protecting yourself from the sun
- Check out what you’re lifting to make sure it’s not too heavy and won’t cause injury
- Check your posture
- Use the right tools for the job
Additionally, make sure you’re gardening in a safe location. Many people choose to grow vegetables in homemade greenhouses or even start seedlings in sheds or garages. These are all great options. But, if you’re spending time in an older building (or even if you live in an older farmhouse), it’s important to be aware of asbestos. It was a common material used for the construction of homes and commercial buildings up until the mid-1970s. Unfortunately, exposure to the substance can lead to respiratory issues and even mesothelioma. The World Health Organization estimates that over 125 million people are exposed to it each year, so do your research ahead of time and make sure to call a professional to secure the area and get rid of the asbestos.
By putting these precautions in place, you can spend hours out in your garden each day enjoying the relaxation it provides. Plus, you will eventually be able to reap the rewards of healthy produce to share at your table. Yes, farming takes a lot of work. But, nearly every part of growing your food from the ground up (literally!) is beneficial in some way, especially when it comes to your heart health.