Impact of outdoor nature-related activities on gut microbiota, fecal serotonin, and perceived stress in preschool children: the Play&Grow randomized controlled trial

Tanja Sobko, Suisha Liang, Will H G Cheng, Hein M Tun
2020 Scientific Reports  
Due to rapid urbanization, children today have fewer opportunities to interact with nature and this may result in a greater risk for developing stress and depression. Outdoor nature-related activities can enhance general well-being. However, the underlying mechanisms are not fully delineated. Here we recruited 54 preschool children to participate in a 10-week structured nature-related "Play&Grow" program. Following the intervention, children were assessed for connectedness to nature and
more » ... d stress levels using validated questionnaires. Moreover, fecal serotonin level and gut microbiota profiles were measured by ELISA and 16S rDNA amplicon sequencing, respectively. Children were significantly more connected to nature after the intervention. Their gut microbiota altered, especially by modulating the abundance of Roseburia and the fecal-serotonin level. Moreover, we also observed a reduction in the overall perceived stress, particularly in the frequency of anger among these children. This study is the first to demonstrate the impact of nature-related activities on gut microbiota, fecal serotonin and psychosocial behaviour of preschool children. However, further mechanistic studies are needed to confirm the functional role of gut microbiota in the association between connectedness to nature and improved psychosocial behavior.
doi:10.1038/s41598-020-78642-2 pmid:33319792 fatcat:yrgijc7p3vauxhnmzljgjhi7zy