Grassy Knoll-edge: 7 benefits of gardening for people with diabetes
Where did April go? This month has flown by, so much so that we almost forgot to tell you about National Gardening Month.
Gardening is a great hobby for people with diabetes, its benefits wide-ranging. So fear not, there’s still plenty of time to get started, and the rest of the year to keep your garden ticking along. At least, until it gets all cold and rainy again.
Here are seven reasons to dust off that those green thumbs.
7. So you know where your food comes from
These days, a lot of food contains things that seem less than healthy, and it makes maintaining a healthy diet tricky. You don’t have to worry about that when you’re growing your own food. Even if those carrots do look a bit on the scrawny side, you know it’s real.
6. Because it’s satisfying to eat it
Your battered and bruised potatoes will probably be the tastiest ‘taters you ever did taste. Because there’s nothing like sweat and blood going into your food to make it so much tastier (not literally, we hope).
5. Gardening is good for weight loss and heart health
Proper gardeners don’t spend all day stomping round in muddy boots and pointing at things – I do, but that’s probably why my gardening success is limited to a small bag of sorry-looking onions. The real stuff is hard work, all that digging flowerbeds and vegetable patches and carrying big bags of mulch. Trust me, you’ll feel it.
If you need to lose weight to support your diabetes management, gardening is a great way, being both fun and demanding. It’s particularly good for your cardiovascular system, which reduces your chances of developing heart-related complications. And the fact that it lowers blood glucose levels reduces the chance of complications in the first place.
4. All that vitamin D
Studies have shown that a vitamin D deficiency is linked to a higher risk of type 2 diabetes. And there’s no better place to get vitamin D than the sunshine.
3. Gardening improves brain activity
Gardening is good for a healthy brain. The mental demands of gardening – the measuring, the planning, the quick-thinking required to make up excuses when it all goes wrong – prevent cognitive decline. Which is good news for people with diabetes, who can experience memory loss and damage to brain function as complication.
2. Because it’s good to be around beauty
A well-tended flowerbed is a lovely sight, a beautiful thing; and we all need beauty in our lives. Studies indicate that beauty reduces the likelihood of depression, anxiety, and other mental health problems. People with diabetes are twice as likely to struggle with depression, so we need al the beauty we can get.
1. Gardening gives you a place to sit and be
Your garden is your stress-free space. The kind of space we all need. When your body gets stressed it produces certain hormones, and these hormones increase the demand for insulin, so your pancreas is working double-time. And the pancreas doesn’t like working double-time. In fact, this kind of pancreatic stress can damage the insulin-producing beta cells, which is why a Swedish study linked a higher risk of type 1 diabetes in children to stressful childhood events.
Take time while in your garden to close your eyes and listen. Be at peace. Be content to simply exist.
So get gardening, and let us know how it goes. Why not take a few pictures of your soil-stained hands working away, and share with your fellow diabetic green thumbs.
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