Growing more native plants in cities will increase microbial diversity. It will also combat the rise of non-communicable diseases. Diseases such as asthma and inflammatory bowel disease. That’s South Australian researchers saying!

By: Andrew Spence

In a new paper, published in Frontiers in Microbiology, researchers from the University of Adelaide found that humans in urban populations are in dire need of more natural habitat. A natural habitat to discuss chronic disease rates.

This could be achieved through restoring urban microbial biodiversity through rewilding.

Lead author Jacob Mills, from The Environment Institute at the University of Adelaide, said evidence pointed towards humans needing healthy, natural, and microbially-rich environments. Environments to properly develop as healthy holobionts. That’s a symbiosis of host and microorganisms reliant on ecosystem health. As well as biodiversity for optimal health outcomes.

inflammatory bowel disease. Will go away as we add more forest to cities

He said a decrease in biodiversity, including microbial diversity, of human habitat through urbanization, is an issue.  It is to be a cause of the rapid increase of non-communicable diseases in urban populations.

In addition, the researchers say modern urban habitats are low in macro and microbial biodiversity. furthermore, it discourages contact with beneficial environmental microbiota.

They also claim these habitat factors, alongside diet, antibiotics, and others. All associated with the epidemic of non-communicable diseases in these societies.

According to the researchers, restoring native plant communities to urban areas could give generational health benefits. It’ll also result in huge savings for health care sectors. Ones they estimate that if urban restoration can reduce health costs by 5 percent then the European Union could save €230-€280 million per year on inflammatory bowel disease alone.

This is a Creative Commons story from The Lead South Australia, a news service providing stories about innovation in South Australia.

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