Office Ficus & Arugula on the Windowsill: How Plants Help Us Feel Better

Plants are talked about as a simple and pleasant way to improve your health. At least effectively resist stress, which is already good, but at the maximum it will positively affect air quality and physical condition at the same time.

But do those magical functions that are attributed to them have a scientific justification? Let’s figure it out right now.

Memory and concentration

It has been proven that being in the epicenter of the home (or office) jungle helps people concentrate better.

This is usually associated with the calming influence of nature, the main ability of plants, as a result of which any tasks are performed with greater accuracy and more correctly than if they had to be performed in a room free from vegetation.

Another study conducted at the University of Michigan showed that even a slight increase in the number of plants nearby improved memory by an impressive 20%.

It turns out that if you need to remember some information, we are talking about the abstracts of the report, the theory of traffic rules or answers to exam tickets, the company of a modest succulent will not hurt you.

Finally, any activity that takes place in a green setting has been found to reduce symptoms of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).

Mood and recovery

The statement that flowers bring happiness seems to be quite true. And it’s not just about a million scarlet roses and bouquets presented on occasion.

Scientists have found that ornamental plants increase positive energy levels, help you feel calm, relaxed and safe, and in the long term reduce the risk of stress-related depression.

Another study compared the effect of outdoor gardening (balcony flower beds work too) with reading.

So it was found that these two types of activity are equally good at reducing blood levels of cortisol, the most famous and powerful stress hormone.

Another ability of houseplants that may surprise you is the ability to stimulate recovery.

Experiments have shown that both the presence of plants in hospital wards, where people recover from operations, and simply a beautiful view of the park or forest from the window significantly reduced the time required for rehabilitation.

Healthy lifestyle

Lack of exercise can trigger a cascade of health problems. That is why today, more than ever, doctors talk about a sedentary lifestyle as a global problem for humanity.

But we all live in the real world, where sports can be hindered by the desire to sleep for another half an hour (when home yoga was scheduled for the morning) or the need not to miss the deadline (this is when we are talking about a subscription to a fitness club).

Ideally, an adult should get 150 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise per week. This reduces the risk of heart and vascular disease, cancer, diabetes and anxiety.

And the good news is that just half an hour of active gardening, when you are planting in the country or in a country house, can save the day.

Clean (but not quite) air

Researchers from the University of Washington found that plants reduce the amount of dust in rooms by as much as 20%.

More specifically, they are quite effective in removing particulate matter from the air, and at the same time increase the level of humidity in the room, which reduces the risk of all sorts of allergic reactions – from hives on the skin to sneezing, runny nose and itchy throat.

Studies conducted by NASA have generally shown that houseplants can remove up to 87% of airborne toxins within a day.

Let’s add some theory. Air pollutants fall into two broad categories: external origin (nitric oxide, carbon monoxide, carbon dioxide, space dust, and so on) and internal origin.

The latter are mainly volatile organic compounds that are released from furniture, flooring, paints, wallpapers, detergents and many other things, negatively affecting human health.

All of them can cause “sick building syndrome”: allergies, headaches, irritability, breathing problems.

Basically, airing and wet cleaning are offered to deal with this, but the plants here may also help.

Combining data from studies on the topic, the experts came to the conclusion that some plants cope with the task better than others.

So, in general, chlorophytum, magenta dracaena, golden epipremnum, rubber-bearing ficus, common ivy, and three-lane sansevieria effectively fight against volatile compounds.

With formaldehydes – aglaonema “silver queen”, high rapis, spathiphyllum. And with benzene particles – aspidistra elatior, chamedorea seifritz, oval fat woman, howea forster.

At the same time, scientists note that at least temperature, humidity and light intensity affect the quality work of plants.

Not to mention that the research results are inconclusive and require additional testing for strength.

And here it is logical to mention the other side of the coin – studies that show that it is wrong and even dangerous to consider plants as air purifiers (a person may have the feeling that if he has flowers in all the rooms, then now you can clean up less often).

Right now, all over the world, ground-level ozone is considered to be the main air pollutant.

Often described as sunburn in the lungs, its effects can lead to painful and labored breathing, asthma attacks, and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).

So, indoor plants, no matter how effective they may be in other studies, practically do not reduce the level of such ozone in the premises.

Proper nutrition

Evidence-based nutritionists and gastroenterologists never tire of repeating that a healthy person does not need additional vitamins.

The only exceptions are vitamin D, which is recommended for everyone and all year round, and vitamin B12 for vegans.

But even they are important to “assign” to yourself only after consulting with a specialist. The rest of the vitamins we can and should get from food – a healthy, balanced and varied diet.

But if you want to upgrade your diet a little, no one will mind. This can be done just with the help of plants. More precisely, microgreens are sprouts and seeds of ordinary greens that are easy to grow on a windowsill.

Researchers from the University of Maryland and the USDA in 2012 evaluated the vitamin and carotenoid concentrations of microgreens and found that they contain up to 40 times more nutrients than mature leaves. And this fact, we must admit, is amazing.

The most popular types of microgreens are basil, arugula, peas, cilantro, Swiss chard, and spicy mustard.

But you can certainly choose the option to your liking. On average, it takes 12-14 days to mature. Shoots are considered ready when the first large leaf appears on them, as similar as possible to “adult” greens.

Depending on the time and desire, you can either purchase seeds separately and grow them according to instructions on the Internet, or buy a ready-made kit with detailed recommendations for watering and harvesting.

In addition to having such nutritional potential, microgreens are incredibly flavorful. This means that by adding it to your favorite dishes – from scrambled eggs for breakfast to salad for dinner – you will enhance the taste of dishes, reducing salt intake.

Recall that the World Health Organization (WHO) links excess sodium intake with high blood pressure, problems with the heart and blood vessels, the risk of heart attack and coronary heart disease.

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