Diabetes, heart disease, arthritis and obesity are just some of conditions that can be linked to the environment people live in, Dr William Bird of Intelligent Health told the Reading Gardening for Health and Wellbeing conference.
Feeling that we belong, are safe, and are valued leads to strong resilience but their absence, particularly in connection to environment, can have the opposite effect.
This can lead to chronic stress which affects the immune system and causes it to attack the body, producing ‘chronic inflammation’.
Dr Bird said: ‘All the diseases I deal with in general practice have their origin, or certainly a lot of the exacerbation by the immune system causing this disruption. And we can see it in children as young as 6.”
Dr Bird presented evidence showing how people living close to green spaces have fewer health complaints, better mental health and feel less lonely.
He argued for the positive role of gardening in relation to resilience and wellbeing, saying horticultural interventions provide spaces where people feel safe, that they belong, and they are able to add value.