Healthy Louisiana: Eat Locally
Growing your own fruit, vegetables, plants and flowers is good for you and also for the Louisiana landscape
During the COVID-19 pandemic, many people were looking for ways to break the monotony safely. Gardening is an activity that can be done while socially distancing and there are many physical and mental health benefits.
“You get to go outside, be in the sunshine, and get the gratification of planting something and watching it grow,” said Dr. Rachael Kermis, a family medicine physician at Baton Rouge General.
The Centers for Disease Control compares gardening to “moderate cardiovascular exercise.” Gardening for just 30 to 45 minutes a day can burn from 150 to 300 calories.
Dr. Kermis says the different parts of gardening — shoveling, raking, planting, carrying — use different muscle groups. As a result, it’s good exercise which can lead to weight loss and improved sleep patterns. It’s also an activity you can do with your entire family. Assign small, individual tasks to a young child (this is good exercise for little ones as well).
The exposure to the sunlight gives you vitamin D, which improves memory, mood and the immune system. However, Dr. Kermis said you should still use sunscreen and wear a hat while gardening to avoid UV damage.
For mental health, gardening reduces stress and gives you a task to focus on that is separate from the demands of your job and family.
Since gardening is a physical activity, it can cause strain on a person’s body. If squatting or bending over for long stretches is challenging due to injuries or other factors try a gardening chair. When lifting a heavy bag of soil, use legs and not your back. If you are up to squatting, though, the squatting component of gardening can provide a great leg workout.
Dr. Kermis said it’s a good idea to make sure your tetanus shot is up-to-date before beginning gardening. Gardening tools can have sharp edges. If you get cut with a rusty tool or if you get cut and get dirt in the wound, it could result in a tetanus infection.
Gardening in Louisiana can be a year round activity and, if you use sustainable practices, it is as good for the environment as it is for your body, mind and soul.
What is in season right now
Corn is high in fiber, so it can help with digestion and bowel regularity. But it’s also loaded with other beneficial ingredients, including vitamin B, zinc, copper, iron, manganese and magnesium.
These potatoes are low in fat (just avoid slathering them with butter). One of the primary benefits is vitamin B1, which aids in healthy heart function. They’re also a great source of vitamin C, which helps fight infections, stress and allergies.
What is sorrel, you ask? It’s a leafy green vegetable that kind of resembles spinach. It’s high in fiber and protein, and low in calories. It also features vitamin A, which is good for your eyesight as well as your skin, hair and nails.