Forest Bathing for web3

Episode 85: Punk1806, Tara Tiger Brown, Forrest Lover & PhD Candidate, UBC

Timestamp: 15:04 – 24:22

Summary of the Conversation

Forest bathing, a concept originating from Japan in the early 1980s, was introduced by the director of the Forest Agency. This idea emerged during significant urbanization, with young people migrating from rural areas to cities. This shift led to increased stress levels, particularly among office workers, prompting a search for natural solutions.

Researchers, including a Soviet chemist and a Japanese professor, explored the role of biogenic volatile organic compounds, like terpenes, emitted by trees. These compounds, used by trees for protection and communication, were theorized to offer health benefits to humans.
The concept of forest bathing is deeply rooted in our evolutionary history. Humans, having evolved over millions of years, are biologically tuned to natural environments, unlike the artificial, built environments we often find ourselves in today. Forest bathing involves immersing oneself in nature, engaging all senses – from breathing the air and touching plants to observing natural patterns and listening to the sounds of nature.

Stephen and Rachel Kaplan, environmental psychologists from the 1980s, developed the Attention Restoration Theory, which suggests that natural environments can help reduce mental fatigue. This theory points to ‘Soft Fascination’ – our brain’s effortless processing of natural patterns like leaves, branches, or flowing water, which provides a restorative break from the intense focus required in our daily lives.

Being in nature not only alleviates mental fatigue but also reduces stress. Built environments with noise, air, and light pollution can elevate cortisol levels, leading to constant stress. In contrast, natural settings can lower stress and improve health markers like blood pressure.

While individual responses vary based on health, geographic location, culture, and spirituality, the general principle holds. Even brief interactions with nature, such as looking out a window or viewing nature photographs, can be beneficial. However, the full multisensory experience of being outdoors is unmatched.

When choosing a natural environment for forest bathing, safety and accessibility are paramount. Regular, short visits are more beneficial than infrequent, long sessions. Variety in these natural settings is also important to prevent habituation and to keep the environment engaging.

My research aims to create dynamic park brochures considering various environmental attributes, including seasonal changes and weather conditions like wildfire smoke. As we face more extreme weather events due to climate change, indoor strategies for connecting with nature become equally important.

The ideal natural setting for forest bathing combines safety, accessibility, biodiversity, and water features. Such environments allow for relaxation and a much-needed break from the stresses of modern life.

Coffee Helps Me Lose Weight (According to my DNA)

Tara Coffee Health

I know so little about what’s going on inside my body except for what the doctors tell me.

Recently I had to get a blood test to check my thyroid levels because I have hypothyroidism. I’ve been getting this check done two times a year for 15 years so it is routine at this point. This checkup, however, was different. This was the first time that I was getting my blood drawn in Japan and this was the first time that I received a digital report with my blood results.

I went in to see my doctor to go over the results and get a new prescription. He said that things looked fine and that I could continue on the same dose that I’ve been on since I first found out that I have a thyroid issue.

Data is power if you know what to do with it

When I got home I decided to look over the results myself. When I reviewed the report I realized that in addition to the levels of T3 and T4 that are checked for thyroid health, there was a whole slew of other data. I gave my knuckles a good crack and logged into the the DNA testing service, 23andme. There is a section on the site where you can enter in raw results from blood tests so I did just that.  As I entered in the data, I learned whether the levels were normal or not. I trust that that information will become useful in the future as they answer questions that their customers want to know, like, is coffee good for me.

You can (and should) tailor food and fitness routines to your DNA and lifestyle

The news is constantly reporting on the health benefits or dangers of coffee, wine, salt, what kind of diet you should be on, and whatever other clickbait they can use. The truth is, that’s terrible advice to pay attention to because that kind of information should be personalized to the individual based on their DNA and their lifestyle.

I’d like to lose 10 pounds and so I’m researching the optimum diet and fitness regime for me that isn’t a quick fix but rather a long term strategy. I was perusing around 23andme and another DNA testing service called FitnessGenes to figure out a diet plan, when a data point about coffee caught my attention.

Both DNA services, 23andme and FitnessGenes, confirmed that I am a fast metabolizer of coffee and I am more likely to consume more of it.


FitnessGenes Coffee FitnessGenes Coffee


23andme coffee

Lose It!

I track all of my food using the app Lose It! and separately it suggested that when I drink coffee I consume less calories.

LoseIt Coffee

My DNA doesn’t lie

Both my DNA and my eating habits confirm that drinking coffee can aid me in losing weight.

That’s just one data point, there are other factors that contribute to weight loss and gain. For example, I know that when I don’t get enough sleep or have a lot of stress, I don’t eat as well and then I usually gain weight.

Continue to gather data and track lifestyle habits

As I gather more data I’ll be adding it to Tara’s Strategy For Optimum Health.

These are the apps that I use and I’ll continue sharing updates as I progress with the learnings.

– Apple Watch for activity (you can also use your phone to track steps and other activity if you carry it with you all the time)- AutoSleep for sleep- Lose It! for food and water intake- EufyLife for weight measurement- Waking Up / Insight Timer for tracking meditation minutes- Moodnotes for moods

Let me know what kind of health data that you are collecting and if you were surprised by any of the results.