Instead of toasting to your health, tree to your health

Monday, November 16, 2020
Does an apple a day really keep the doctor away? Well, maybe not. However, eating healthy foods low in fat and calories and high in fiber, such as fruit from trees, is one way to prevent and treat type 2 diabetes.

According to the CDC’s 2020 National Diabetes Statistics Report, 34.2 million Americans, or about 1 in 10, have diabetes and 88 million adults, or 1 in 3, have prediabetes. The good news is new cases of adults diagnosed with diabetes significantly decrease from 2008 to 2018. The bad news is new cases of youth diagnosed with type 1 and type 2 has significantly increased.

In addition to eating healthy, getting more exercise and losing excess weight are other ways to prevent type 2 diabetes. And, trees can help! A 5-year study of senior citizens in Japan found that tree-lined streets encouraged walking1. The more steps you take, the more exercise you get. Taking care of yard trees is another great way to get exercise. Raking and bagging leaves can be time consuming, but provides low impact exercise. Kids, too, get exercise when they jump into your recently raked leaves (Of course, adults can jump in the leaves too, we won’t throw shade). A tree swing can provide kids with countless hours of playtime and exercise (just make sure the swing doesn’t damage your tree). As you increase the amount of time you exercise, you might even notice excess weight disappear.

Consider planting a few fruit trees in your yard. You’ll be helping pollinators and yourself. Tending to fruit trees is another way to get exercise. Consider all the squats you will take when picking up fallen fruit. Your upper body will get a workout too because fruit trees need annual pruning to maintain shape and an open canopy. Be sure to select a fruit tree variety that is appropriate for your growing zone. Luckily for northern states, nurseries and universities are growing hardier varieties of fruit trees that can do well in northern climates.

So, this November, thank a tree for helping you be healthy.

  1. Takano, T., K. Nakamura, and M. Watanabe. 2002. Urban Residential Environments and Senior Citizens’ Longevity in Mega-City Areas: The Importance of Walkable Green Space. Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health 56, 12:913–916.