Open Voices Blog

Archives for posts tagged as "immune system"

Healthy Systems, from Cells to Cities

01/19/16 | View Comments

Urban ecosystems include all the structures and functions around us: playgrounds and offices, highways and sanitation facilities, private backyards and urban wildlife, even you and your immune system.

Cultivating a low stress lifestyle amongst all this bustling life can be challenging. Public parks and street trees in your neighborhood contributes to not only a healthy urban ecosystem but healthy immune systems for each of us. Nearby nature spaces provide opportunities to enjoy natural scenery, relax, sit quietly, commune with others, meditate, pray, or self-reflect.


Immune System Health

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Bathing in Phytoncides, better than it sounds

01/12/16 | View Comments

Each month in our Open Voices blog we share insight from leaders and ideas advancing what it means to have sacred, open green spaces in our cities.

Forest Bathing, or shinrin-yoku, is the act of strolling through a forested area with intention. This activity, originating in Japan nearly 40 years ago, seems to have been one of the top phrases of 2015.

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Recommended Reading: Boosting Immune Systems with Biodiversity

11/12/13 | View Comments

When you come down with a bad case of the sniffles or an unruly cough, our 21st century sensibilities say you need to wash your hands even more and make sure to get rid of all the germs. But research suggests that exposure to greater biodiversity, especially when it comes to bacteria and microbes, may be what actually helps prevent allergies and weakened immune systems.

A study in Finland found that individuals who lived in houses surrounded by a greater diversity of life, closer to the wilds of nature, were covered with different kinds of microbes. They were also less likely to show the telltale immunological signs of allergies.

Less bio-diverse systems such as grasslands, forests, or the tiny life-forms on our skin and in our guts, are less resilient and at greater risk of invasion (whether by pathogens or weeds) than more diverse systems, according to the research.

One way to think about the study was that the key was bacteria; the lock was our immune systems. It is feasible that urban dwellers are too distant from microbial nature for their immune systems to develop properly. The more in touch with the grit and dirt of nature, our protection against allergies and illness becomes stronger and more fully developed.

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    We are a private nonprofit that supports, informs, and inspires the creation of publicly accessible urban green spaces. We believe that every city resident needs nearby green space to provide opportunities for mindfulness, respite, and renewal. The Foundation has issued its final grants to build five Open Spaces Sacred Places and research the impacts on a variety of users with the hope that the powerful connection between nature, spirit and human wellbeing will be scientifically proven.

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