The connection with nature not only improves mental and physical health, but also influences dietary choices and the intake of fruits and vegetables.
In late 2020, Canadian doctors were headlined to “prescribe nature” or recommend outdoor time based on research that suggests people who spend two or more hours in nature a week improve their health. your health and well-being.
Knowing this, transdisciplinary researchers at Drexel University investigated how the relationship with nature, simply feeling connected to the natural world, benefits dietary diversity and the intake of fruits and vegetables, in a study recently published in the American Journal of Health Promotion.
“The relationship with nature has been associated with better cognitive, psychological and physical health and higher levels of environmental management. Our results expand this list of benefits to include dietary intake,” said Brandy-Joe Milliron, PhD. , associate professor at Drexel School of Nursing and Health Professions and lead author of the publication.
“We found that people with a higher relationship with nature were more likely to report a healthy dietary intake, including a greater dietary variety and increased consumption of fruits and vegetables.”
The research team surveyed more than 300 adults in Philadelphia to measure their connection to nature, including their experience and perspective on nature, and the foods and beverages they had consumed the day before to assess their dietary diversity. and love your fruit and fruit daily. vegetable consumption.
Survey participants reflected the demographic characteristics (gender, income, education, and race) of Philadelphia, according to the 2010 census.
Data were collected between May and August 2017. The results of the survey showed that participants with a stronger connection to nature reported a more varied diet and ate more fruits and vegetables.
“This work can affect health promotion practices in two ways,” Milliron said. “First, nature-based health promotion interventions can increase the relationship with nature throughout life and potentially improve dietary intake. And second, increase dietary interventions with nature-based activities. can lead to greater improvements in diet quality. ”
But, researchers said, while improving dietary intake through nature-based interventions can be valuable, it is also complex. The image is in the public domain
The research team added that these findings highlight the potential to take advantage of nature-based experiences or interventions, such as the incorporation of green spaces or urban greening into urban planning, the integration of prescribing parks and nature to health practices (similar to the Canadian model) and promotion. nature-based experiences in the classroom, among many others.
But, researchers said, while improving dietary intake through nature-based interventions can be valuable, it is also complex.
“Future research should explore the ways in which different communities experience and value nature,” said Dane Ward, PhD, adjunct professor in the Faculty of Arts and Sciences and co-author of the study.
“It is important to understand how the intersections of the environment, culture, race, history (including connection to the land), social cohesion and other social and economic factors influence the identity of the community in relation to the relationship with the community. nature and dietary intake “.
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