There are many fascinating and surprising links between the human microbiome and wider health. Stephanie Frey/Shutterstock.com Switching a child’s playground from gravel to natural forest floor could give them a better immune system within just one month by exposing them to a greater variety of skin and gut bacteria. Just as old wisdom says, the new research suggests that city kids could become healthier if they spend more time playing outside in the dirt. These findings were recently gathered from a trial carried out in Finland by the University of Helsinki. As reported in the journal Science Advances, researchers studied 75 children between 3 and 5 years old at 10 daycare centers in two Finnish cities, Lahti and Tampere, and looked to see how a change in their playing environment altered their skin and gut microbiota as well as the immune markers in their blood. Four of the daycare centers were given a revamp that turned their gravel playgrounds into a field of forest floor, soil, and grasses. As controls, three daycare centers already had this setting and three others kept their old gravel playground. One month after the change, scientists collected samples of skin, blood, and poop from […]

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