Nature Deprivation Linked to Allergies and Asthma

Not having enough contact with the natural environment is one reason more city dwellers are developing allergies and asthma. That is, living away from nature is taking a measurable toll on our health according to a new study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS).

Researchers from the University of Helsinki collected samples from 188 participants, all teenagers in eastern Finland. Those who lived on farms or near forests were found to have more diverse bacteria on their skin and to display lower sensitivity to allergens. Indeed, the scientists found that certain microbiota — bacteria that have been shown to be beneficial to humans by helping to maintain our immune system — are found in greater abundance in non-urban settings.

A richer diversity of bacteria live in a vegetative environment (forests, agricultural areas) but many of us are deprived of these as we live in urban settings. As the researchers tell the BBC, “urbanization “can be seen as a lost opportunity for many people to interact with the natural environment and its biodiversity, including the microbial communities.”

To underscore the importance the benefits of the natural environment for our health, the BBC cites some more studies that underscore our human need for nature:

A study in the journal Landscape and Urban Planning found higher stress levels in those living in urban areas who are “deprived” of access to green spaces.

The Inclusive Design for Getting Outdoors consortium (I’DGO) has found a “direct link between the ease of getting outdoors and health and quality of life” via a study of 4,350 older people across the U.K.

Britain’s National Trust recently reported that more and more children are “losing contact with nature.” Indeed, only 24% of children the U.K. play outside today.

Recognizing that it is not possible to reverse urbanization — to have the majority of us move “back to the land” — the University of Helsinki researchers say that their findings suggest that urban planners should be sure to incorporate “green spaces, green belts and green infrastructure” throughout cities.

A concrete jungle, or a suburban office “park,” just are not the best environments for us. Far from an indulgence, getting outside, most of all in nature — amid trees and rocks and waterways — is simply good for us.

Related Care2 Coverage

Recession Means Kids Are Playing Outside Again!

Only 25% Of UK Kids Play Outside: Bear Grylls To The Rescue!

“Get Out Into Nature!” Says Britain’s National Trust



Photo by Jonf728


Tara Pope
Tara Pope6 years ago

This is great. Meditation does help a lot. I find if I center myself and focus I can stop and asthma attack. But sometimes they are to much. When I was on vacation last year I was having a bad attack. I left my inhaler at home on an accident. I was able to call me doctor at MD247 and they called in a inhaler to the pharmacy for me. I was so relieved I don't like the feeling of not being able to breath. Asthma

Sassy A.
Sassy A6 years ago


Ruby R.
vanessa w6 years ago

Spent time aged 8-21 working on farms part time to stable my horses, had dogs from the age of 4.
Was always running and playing (yep, playing) on manure heaps and in fields and all sorts on the farms, wormed the lambs, rode, washed, hugged horses. Played with chickens and sheep.
Stiull have asthma in my late 30's......
And yet the docs try and force steroids and other chemicals onto me

Suzy D.
Suzy D6 years ago

I don`t doubt the research and believe there is a lot of truth in it. However, my late mother reckoned that her asthma was triggered whilst plucking a chicken of its feathers, when she worked on a country estate. You can`t get much closer to Nature than that.

Debbie L.
Debbie Lim6 years ago

Wow, it's so sad how kids don't go out that much anymore. I remember how I was more often outside than inside when I was young. That's why you can't let your kids watch TV or go on the computer or play video games, especially the latter.

Kim D.
Kimberly D6 years ago

I played outside when I was growing up. Our house was on the side of a mountain and my parents and I climbed it regularly. I went swimming in the spring-fed lake that was within walking distance of my house. I had perfect attendance in school and was rarely sick. I still love the outdoors.

Today kids are sick all the time. They have allergies and have to get ear tubes (what the heck?) and all kinds of things I never heard of before. WHAT??

Get outside people!

sadar s.
Sadar Uddin s6 years ago

We need to expand indoor plants as well to fight against urbanization negative impacts. Make a plant-pet to occupy your Sweet Home.

nicola w.
Jane H6 years ago

These wonderful wild places keep us sane too ...quietens kids brains and lets them experience their own "thoughts" and wonderings...
My teenage memories of camping and getting covered in salty sea water , no soap ....
kept me sane - AND my poor mother..

Pearl Duval
Pearl Duval6 years ago

Houses are too clean, parents don't want to bother with pets, children are overly protected from dirt, bumps or anything that might (gasp) teach them something about real life...
When surveys show that some children can't even recognize a tomato and name it, or don't know that a chicken breast wrapped in cellophane was once a living animal...then we are in DEEP trouble...
We are creating little drones that will grow up to be heartless sub-humans with no connections or understanding of the REAL world !
Help !!

Jennifer C.
Past Member 6 years ago