LITTLE KNOWN HEALTH BENEFITS OF PLANTS
The human race did not inherit the Earth as it looks today. It took a lot of effort, intellect, and the resultant developments in technology to turn it to the planet as it is now.
Sterile land was converted to grassy pastures and later used to construct buildings and skyscrapers. These advancements contributed to the amenities and luxuries we enjoy today, but this came at a price. Fewer plants.
The very first biology book we read as a kid tells us that plants are important for all living things. As we advance through our academic years we are even told that life, as we know it, will not exist without plants.
Plants are extremely important for the ecosystem. All organisms in the food chain, directly or indirectly, get energy from them. However, as mankind thrived for better infrastructure and buildings, plants were sacrificed. In recent decades, governments around the world have realized the calamitous consequences of this negligence and we are forced to revert to the knowledge of our first biology book; plants are really important. They serve us in ways many of us are not even aware of.
Reduce Carbon Dioxide
One of the main functions of a plant is to reduce carbon dioxide and release oxygen. Humans and animals breathe in oxygen and exhale carbon dioxide and, as mentioned earlier, plants do exactly the opposite. Plants use the sunlight to convert carbon dioxide and water to sugar and oxygen, through a process called photosynthesis. A planet without plants will be impossible to breathe in. This testifies the earlier statement; life will not exist without plants.
Rising health awareness has made people more conscious about the food they consume, but what about the air they breathe? The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) states that on average, the indoor air quality is typically 2 to 5 times worse than the outside. This polluted air poses an equally potent threat to human health and requires us to improve the air quality indoors. Plants absorb pollutants while providing oxygen, ensuring uninterrupted supply of purified air. This is reason enough to have more plants in our homes and work environments.
After a series of experiments and studies, scientists have concluded that plants purify the air, improve the indoor environment and are useful in combating the Sick Building Syndrome (SBS). While we feel secure within the premises of our homes, we are still exposed to airborne pollutants. Only a quarter of 82,000 chemicals in the US have been tested for their effects on humans. This tells us that the only protection we have against these alien, invisible chemicals is air purification, and the best way to do this is through indoor plants.
People generally do not like noisy places. Offices, hotels, retail shops and medical facilities make a concentrated effort to reduce noise and ensure that the inhabitants enjoy a sense of serenity. An expensive solution would be soundproof walls and windows but the right way to do it is to grow plants.
Plants have this mystic characteristic to absorb noise through different means. Plant parts like stem, leaves and wood absorb sound. Plants can also reduce noise by deflecting it. When a sound hits a wall, it bounces back, but when it hits a flexible material like a plant, the sound wave is transformed to other forms of energy and is also deflected to other directions.
Lowering Blood Pressure
Hypertension (high blood pressure) is one of the most common diseases today. Currently, one in three adults in the United States suffers from high blood pressure.
Plants not only serve as an important food intake to combat the disease but also help reduce stress levels, heart rate and blood pressure. Eating a plant-based diet and being surrounded by plants may well be the step in the right direction for all hypertension patients.
Fight Cold and Flu
Catching a cold or flu may not be a medical emergency but it is certainly not the best feeling either. Flu symptoms usually last for a week and even medical specialists avoid prescribing medicines for it. Instead of medicines, people can use plants to avoid or heal the flu.
Consuming plants like citrus fruit, ginger and garlic can help heal flu and you can also grow plants in your surroundings which can protect you from falling sick. According to a research conducted at Kansas State University, adding plants to hospital rooms improved patients’ recovery speed.
Biology theories have always been right in highlighting the importance of plants. We may have overlooked these theories and followed the advancements in physics and chemistry which made our lives more convenient, but for healthier lungs and lives, plants and trees are still the best choice.