Daily Prompts

Getting My Phytochemicals

Daily Prompt:  Hike

forest-path

There is no greater peace for me than disappearing into the woods on a hike.  I’ve mentioned my forest walks on my twinkly list.  The deeper into the woods I go – away from cars, noise, reminders of the city – the better.  John Muir wrote, “The clearest way into the Universe is through a forest wilderness.”     I like to think it’s the direct line to yourself, or your true north.

A while ago, I read an article about “forest bathing” or “Shinrin-Yoku.”  This concept was developed in the 80s in Japan as a means to promote mental and physical well being.  Studies have shown that just a couple of minutes in a forest improves mood and energy, reduces stress and lowers blood pressure.  This concept of “nature feels good” certainly isn’t novel.  We’ve all experienced it. What I found most interesting was why being in the forest also boosts your immune system.  When we breathe in fresh air in the forest, we breathe in phytochemicals that plants emit to protect against insects, bacteria and fungi.  Our bodies respond to these chemicals by increasing the number and activity of white blood cells called natural killer cells, which in turn kill virus-infected cells in our bodies.   Pretty amazing.   Other studies have shown that walks in nature decrease anxiety and rumination, which is highly associated with depression.  I now had a scientific explanation for why my hikes in the woods left me feeling centered and calm.

I recently discovered many more of my local forest preserve’s trails and lakes. I’m not sure why I hadn’t ventured out before this summer. Habit, I suppose.  Proximity.  I’m making an effort to visit them all and get my weekly dose of phytochemicals.

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13 thoughts on “Getting My Phytochemicals

  1. I could not agree more. A walk in the woods is always healing. And who knows, maybe less time outside is a reason for increased allergies that kids these days seem to display. All sorts of benefits. Thanks for reminding me to head for the woods!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. You’re welcome. The very phytoncides that plants produce to stave off plant disease help to increase our NK cell count. Perfect symbiosis, Quercus. We just need to take advantage of it!

      Incidentally, I dug around some more and found that forests help lower blood sugar and pain perception. (Sound and beauty of surroundings affected the latter.) Have a good day.

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  2. I spent about an hour in a woodsy park near my home today, breathing in the air, picking up fallen leaves to press. I think I might post about it this week with a link back to your ‘forest bathing.’ Great post.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I did the same today. Maybe one of the last mild weekends we’ll get. The weather was amazing and sunny. In fact, we’ve been having such warm weather, we haven’t even really hit peak Fall colors. We were looking for some leaves to press as well. As a substitute, we drove around in the woods with the moon roof open so my daughter could catch the falling leaves. 👍🏻😂. I appreciate the link back if you decide to post. Thanks for sharing your comment.

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