The definition of “resilience” is the ability to recover or adjust to misfortune or change. There are four types:
- Physical resilience
- Mental resilience
- Emotional resilience
- Social resilience
Those of us who have autoimmune (AI) diseases, know that resilience is our daily mantra. I’ve had severe psoriasis for most of my life. When it flares up, it hits all four of those types of resilience. They get hit hard.
AI diseases cause all kinds of physical discomfort. In the case of psoriasis, our skin itches constantly. It cracks, it bleeds, and it can feel like your skin is on fire. This, of course, leads to frustration and may even bring on depression (I was on antidepressants as a teen). You end up emotionally drained because of the stress your disease is causing you.
In my case – someone who has a physically ugly external disease – this causes all kinds of social pressures. You’re embarrassed to be seen with a flare. In high school, I was teased constantly (now it’s called bullying). I didn’t want to be around anyone.
Once I discovered that I could heal myself with nutrition instead of toxic drugs, this was a massive relief for me and resolved all the physical, mental, emotional, and social pressures I was feeling. Now I’m resilient and able to go about my life.
So, what exactly does this have to do with gardening?
Nutrition Heals Autoimmune Diseases
In my journey with psoriasis, after having had what seemed to be hundreds of doctor visits, never once was I ever offered an effective healing solution. The drugs I was offered became stronger and more toxic, causing unwanted effects. Even though my skin was healed, the drugs were suppressing my immune system which caused me to be sick all the time.
I had to find a different way.
Almost by accident (a story for another day), I started voraciously reading about the connection between nutrition and health. In short, many of the foods that are touted to be healthy for us (and heavily subsidized by the US government!), were making me sick and inflaming my immune system.
This showed up externally as my terrible psoriasis. In others, it becomes rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, alopecia, vitiligo, or any of 100+ other AI diseases.
Once I weaned off the drugs and healed my gut with proper nutrition, my immune system became stronger and more resilient. I’m rarely sick anymore. My psoriasis is 99% in remission.
Then I discovered gardening.
Gardening Heals Your Body in Multiple Ways
Did you know that when spinach is harvested, it loses 95% of its vitamin C content and 50% of its folate within 24 hours of being cut? The stuff you buy at the grocery store is likely a week old by the time it gets to the store.
Apples and pears, which only grow in the fall, are stored in warehouses and gassed with a chemical called 1-methylcyclopropene (yummy!) that suspends the ripening process. When you buy an apple in the summer, it’s from last year’s crop and is months old. Guess how much nutrition is in that apple now. Probably not much.
So, it follows that the shorter you can make the path from harvest to your plate will maximize the nutrient density in anything you eat.
The shortest path is having your own garden. If you grow nutrient-dense foods, eschew pesticides and herbicides, and do your best to grow organically, your food will be packed with micronutrients and phytonutrients that will feed your body.
This is the key to healing AI diseases.
So, thinking about the four types of resilience, how does gardening help?
Physical: working the land is going to give you physical exercise. Digging, weeding, seeding, and so on all make for some fantastic exercise. The sunlight will help your body to produce vitamin D, which is a healing hormone that most of us lack in sufficient amounts.
Mental: being outdoors and in the sun, and breathing fresh air can only help your psyche.
Emotional: see above
Social: sharing your organic bounty with your friends and neighbors is something we all love to do, and our friends are amazed at what we can grow on our own. It tastes SO much better than store-bought produce!
Gardening on Autopilot
Unfortunately, gardening can be a challenge too. Maybe you don’t have good soil or even a place to plant things in the ground. Maybe it’s too hot or too cold. Critters can destroy your crops. Bugs and weeds frustrate the most determined gardener. I always forget to water until the plants droop in the heat.
I’ve found a solution to this: aeroponics.
You’ve probably heard of hydroponics, which is where plants grow in a water and nutrient medium. It’s efficient and works well, but you must have a lot of room and equipment.
If you flip hydroponics on its side and go vertically, now you can grow vegetables indoors in a 2×2’ unused corner of your house or even on a back porch or deck.
I’ve been a fan of a product called a Tower Garden for many years now. It grows up to 32 plants at a time, it uses 98% less water and the plants grow 30% faster than growing in the ground. You don’t have weeds, bugs, or dirt, so it’s all self-contained and waters itself automatically.
What can you grow? Basically, if it grows above-ground, you can grow it. Lettuce, spinach, chard, herbs, kale, edible flowers, celery, and so on grow very well indoors with lights – all year long! Fruiting plants grow amazingly well outdoors where the bees can do their business: peas, squashes, melons, cucumbers, strawberries, peppers, tomatoes, and so on thrive.
I now have two towers going all year long – one indoors and one outdoors – which means I’m feeding my body the healthiest and most nutrient-dense produce possible all year long and saving hundreds of dollars of food costs to boot. I just pick what I want and put it on my plate: no washing, no toxins, and nobody has touched my food but me.
You can see more about the Tower Garden at growfreeveggies.com.
Now get out there and start a garden! Your body will thank you.
Thomas Petty has had psoriasis, an autoimmune disease, his entire life and was diagnosed at an early age. After several decades, he became frustrated by the lack of results from traditional options that were offered by his own physicians. He started researching other methods of controlling his skin, and after ten years of reading, researching and experimentation – by healing his gut – he has gotten his skin 99% clear and into almost complete remission.
Coincidentally, his wife became seriously ill (and subsequently permanently disabled) because of a mystery illness that all the king’s horses and all the king’s men couldn’t figure out. He immersed himself in researching medical conditions, especially other autoimmune (AI) diseases. His wife’s own extremely rare AI disease took the best minds in the field, brain surgery and ultimately over three years to diagnose.
After implementing the changes that Tom had discovered for himself (which the doctors scoffed at), her own AI disease has gone completely into remission and has never returned.
His passion is helping people to get their autoimmune disease into a better state or even into remission.
Thomas lives in the San Francisco Bay Area in California with his wife, Joanne, of over 20 years, and he has two adult step-daughters.
He has been a web designer and online marketer for over 15 years and been involved with technology for over 30 years, including a two-decade IT career at a Fortune 100 company.