How adding microbial diversity to urban environments improves health

The more diverse the microbe community in the soils around us, and the more you are exposed to it, the healthier you become.

EVEN ON A BLUSTERY winter’s afternoon, Mount Lofty flaunts its splendour as a bushland oasis, one of the last vestiges of the original forests and woodlands that once dotted the Adelaide Plains.

Walking the winding nature trails here, you encounter a multitude of native trees, shrubs, climbing plants, reeds and grasses, two-thirds of which harbour fruit, seeds or insects that attract birds, or nectar that brings butterflies.

Meandering down the narrow tracks from the summit, you feel invigorated by the scenery, the silence, the smell of wet earth after a light shower. To a city dweller, the air itself seems therapeutic.

And it’s not an illusion. Every time you enter wild spaces replete with biodiversity and breathe the air, microbes wafting through the ecosystem land on your skin, enter your lungs and gut and become part of you. They join the many billions already living in your microbiome – the community of symbiotic micro-organisms inside each human being.

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