A little dirt never hurt anyone, in fact, it can actually help. A new study shows that kids raised on farms are healthier than their city counterparts for one very simple reason: dirt.

The recent study published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Science found that being raised in a dirt and germ-filled environment, like a farm, can improve a person’s mental well-being later in life. Many studies have already shown the physical benefits of growing up in an environment with dust and dander, but this new study shows that it can also have mental health benefits as well.

The study was conducted on 40 men living in Germany, half of which were raised on a farm up to the age of 15. The other subjects were raised in the city with no pets. Through a series of stress tests, the researchers found that the city-raised men were more likely to be at a higher risk for developing mental health disorders, like depression.

This was a small study and more research is needed to build a concrete link between mental health and germ exposure. With urbanization rapidly growing, however, the researchers believe their findings are significant and worth further investigation.

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—Shahrzad Warkentin

Featured photo: Timothy Eberly via Unsplash

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