Healthy Soil = Healthy Food = Healthy Gut

A mother and daughter eat grapes off the vine. Photo by Zen Chung
A mother and daughter eat grapes off the vine. Photo by Zen Chung

A growing body of research is showing that human health is deeply and closely linked to the health of the soil where our food is grown.

In simple terms, you are what your salad eats.

“The microbiota of the human gut and the plant rhizome are similar in many ways and intricately connected with each other. A healthy plant therefore affects human microbiota and human health.” (1) / National Library of Medicine

  • The microbiome (A.K.A. microbiota or microbes) is the trillions of microscopic organisms that live in the human body. When we’re healthy, thousands of types of bacteria, fungi, viruses, and even parasites coexist happily.
  • A rhizome is a type of plant root.

A little nature, a little nurture

While we all start out with a gut microbiome that’s genetically passed on to us from our mothers, our environment quickly steps in to have its say in the evolution of our gut and overall health.

The way we eat and the things we’re exposed to all have a significant impact on our microbiome – an impact that’s even stronger than genetics. Harvard School of Public Health

If it’s in the dirt, it’s on your dish

If your veggies grow in rich, nutritious, fertile soil, your gut and overall physical and mental health can be directly improved or supported.

But on the flipside, if your veggies grow in soil that’s lacking nutrition, or that’s been sprayed with or heavily damaged by herbicides, fertilizers, or pesticides, they can lack important nutrition or be straight up toxic.

  • “Not only will some of these chemicals make their way through food into the human gut, but they also kill off the plant microbiota.” (1)

So what should we do?

Eating unprocessed, organic, locally-grown food is the best way to avoid ingesting harmful or nutritionally-empty fruits and veggies.

  • If fruits and veggies are delivered from far away, they generally must be treated with a variety of pesticides and antibiotics to avoid spoiling. (1)

If you’re feeling really ambitious, search out regenerative farmers in your area and see if they’ll sell to you directly!

Cited sources: (1) Hirt H. Healthy soils for healthy plants for healthy humans: How beneficial microbes in the soil, food and gut are interconnected and how agriculture can contribute to human health. EMBO Rep. 2020;21(8):e51069. doi:10.15252/embr.202051069

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