We need urban biodiversity to lower chronic health conditions
A new paper published in Frontiers in Microbiology reports that ‘the evidence is pointing towards humans needing healthy, natural and microbially-rich environments to properly develop as holobionts.’ Many scientists believe we humans are holobionts, a symbiosis of host and microorganisms reliant on ecosystem health and biodiversity for optimal health outcomes.
The researchers believe that rates of chronic health conditions including asthma, inflammatory bowel disease and allergies are linked to less diverse human microbiomes and that replanting urban environments with native flora could be a cost effective way to improve human health.
Lead author of the paper, Jacob Mills from The Environment Institute at the University of Adelaide said, “We are more than human, cell-for-cell we are 57% microbial, we are walking ecosystems. Restoring plant communities provides habitat for animals and changes soil, water and air conditions, all of which impact on the environmental microbiota, generating a more natural microbial community. Biodiversity restoration could be a cheap health care intervention with the possibility of enormous savings for health care sectors which can be spent in other areas of need. It also comes with co-benefits like urban heat island mitigation, pollution capture and species conservation, which makes it a no-regrets intervention.”