June 2, 2016

Nature Deficit Disorder may Shorten our Lifespan.


Researchers at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health found a correlation between living in a home surrounded by greenery and longevity and mental health.

They evaluated more than 108,000 women all across America between the years 2000 and 2008. They found that there was a 12 percent lower risk of death for those women who lived in the greenest surroundings.

Women with the greenest vegetation around their homes were 34 percent less likely to die of a respiratory-related issue. They also found that women living in the greenest environments were 13 percent less likely to die of cancer. (1,2)

The researchers were quite surprised by this strong correlation that also extended into mental health. Women living in the greenest environments were happier and less depressed. (1,2)

Harvard Study Proves Ancient Wisdom

According to Ayurveda, spending time in the nature or green space around plants builds ojas —a substance linked to longevity, vitality and radiant health. Ojas is the end-product of the most refined aspects of complete digestion which, according to Ayurveda, takes 30 days to complete. The production of ojas, the most delicate and refined substance in the body, is dependent on one’s lifestyle, attitude, diet and stress.

According to the new science called Circadian Medicine, stress and living a lifestyle outside of the circadian rhythms of nature are well-known to compromise health.

The benefits of living according to and in harmony with the rhythms of nature have been the foundation of Ayurveda for thousands of years.

Interestingly, science tells us that our health-promoting microbes, our longevity genes and hormones along with the health of our chromosomes are also linked to stress, attitude, diet and lifestyle. (3-11) One of the most important techniques to build ojas is to spend time in nature. It could be in your garden, yard or a park. It could be regularly hiking, camping or meditating on a rock—it all builds ojas.

According to Ayurveda, certain foods build ojas as well. They are:

  1. Raw or vat-pasteurized, non-homogenized cow’s milk.
  2. Grass-fed organic ghee
  3. Raw organic honey
  4. Organic almonds
  5. Organic saffron
  6. Organic coconut
  7. Organic dates
  8. Organic Ashwagandha
  9. Organic Shatavari

These foods are traditionally made into a drink to be taken before bed.



  1. Environ Health Perspect. DOI: 10.1289/ehp. 1510363. Exposure to Greenness and Mortality in a Nationwide Prospective Cohort Study of Women.
  2. HealthDay. By Robert Preidt. Thursday, April 14, 2016. Study Links Green Spaces to Longer Lives for Women.
  3. EMBO Rep. 2013 Jan; 14(1): 12–16. Published online 2012 Nov 27. doi:  10.1038/embor.2012.191. PMCID: PMC3537144. Science and Society. The biochemistry of love: an oxytocin hypothesis.
  4. Science Direct. doi:10.1016/j.bbi.2010.10.023. Exposure to a social stressor alters the structure of the intestinal microbiota: Implications for stressor-induced immunomodulation.
  5. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America. vol. 110 no. 33. Barbara L. Fredrickson,  13684–13689, doi: 10.1073/pnas.1305419110. A functional genomic perspective on human well-being.
  6. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2015 Mar 17;112(11):3308-13. doi: 10.1073/pnas.1422096112. Epub 2015 Feb 9. Epigenetic modification of the oxytocin receptor gene influences the perception of anger and fear in the human brain.
  7. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2015 Mar 17;112(11):3308-13. doi: 10.1073/pnas.1422096112. Epub 2015 Feb 9. Epigenetic modification of the oxytocin receptor gene influences the perception of anger and fear in the human brain.
  8. Positive Psychology UK. The concept of eudaimonic well-being.
  9. Ann N Y Acad Sci. 2004 Dec;1036:167-80. Epigenetic programming of stress responses through variations in maternal care.
  10. Nat Rev Neurosci. 2011 Jul 13;12(8):453-66. doi: 10.1038/nrn3071. Gut feelings: the emerging biology of gut-brain communication.
  11. Brain Behav Immun. 2013 Aug;32:159-63. doi: 10.1016/j.bbi.2013.04.005. Epub 2013 Apr 19. Loving-Kindness Meditation practice associated with longer telomeres in women.


Author: Dr. John Douillard

Editor: Catherine Monkman

Image: Flickr/AleksandraGabriela 

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