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The Surprising Health Benefit of Getting Your Hands (Literally) Dirty

You could garden, set fence posts—hell, you could even dig for buried treasure. Just as long as you do it in the dirt, you’ll reap unexpected health benefits.

Surprisingly, it turns out that an ancient bacteria that thrives in soil, Mycobacterium vaccae—often referred to as “the old friend” because it’s been shown to reduce asthma symptoms and fight tuberculosis—may also lower stress and fight inflammation, new research has discovered. 

And, yes, the only thing you have to do to get this buggy buddy into your body, according to the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences study, is to hit the dirt: The mere act of touching or breathing in the non-pathogenic bacteria will make it part of your microbiome. 

In related news, the Japanese trend of “forest bathing”—surrounding oneself with the sights, sounds, and smells of nature to stay healthy and sane—is now catching on here in the U.S. 

Yeah, we can dig that, too.

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