Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman, in their book Good Omens, had joked that “almost the entire drive of human history has been an attempt to get as far away from Nature as possible”. This certainly seems true. More and more people are moving from the country to the city and living in apartment buildings, surrounded by concrete buildings instead of nature. However, scientists now say that we should bring a little bit of nature into our apartments in the form of indoor plants.
Studies have shown that nature can make us happier and healthier. Another study has also shown that people in urban areas don't handle stress as well as they should. The less time we spend in nature, the less happy and relaxed we are.
Another study, meanwhile. shows that living close to nature gives people diverse gut microbiota. If we bring nature into our apartments, we can have diverse microbiota in our gut as well.
What are microbiota anyway? “Microbiota” is a catch-all term for microogranisms like bactera, fungi, and viruses living in the same place. This sounds scary, since we've all heard that bacteria, fungi, and viruses are bad for us. However, maintaining healthy diversity in our microbiota actually helps us fight inflammation in our bodies. Iflammation occurs when our immune system is on constant alert, instead of resting when there is no threat to our health.
What, then, can indoor plants do for our gut microbiota? Plants have the same relationship with microbiota that we do. Plants also thrive when they're host to diverse microbiota. If we're in contact with plants, it's possible that we may be able to maintain the diversity in our gut microbiota as well.
Also, plants convert carbon dioxide into oxygen. Apartments can be quite cramped, and they can have insufficient air flow. Plants can clean the air indoors by taking the carbon dioxide and producing more oxygen.
Just looking at plants can also be beneficial for us. This study shows that looking at images of plants and nature can reduce stress much better than images of urban landscapes can. Keeping plants in the apartment can thus make you less stressed and reduce the negative effects of living life in the city.
If you're thinking about what plants you should have at home, researchers have a few suggestions. Placing aloe vera and mother-in-law's tongue in the bedroom can help improve sleep quality. You can also place gerbera in the laundry to purify the air of formaldehyde and benzene. Peace lilies in the hallway, meanwhile, can reduce toxins in the air and prevent them from spreading from room to room. Devil's ivy, which doesn't need much heat or sunlight, can remove the pollutant ozone from the air.
There aren't many downsides to keeping indoor plants in your apartment. They'll need care and maintenance, but it's a small price to pay for a better quality of life. Just because you live in the city doesn't mean that you need to just accept that you won't be breathing clean air.
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