Use the environment to improve your health?
What does this statement mean? Do you understand how you can use your environment to improve your health?
Maybe you have never considered this idea, or maybe you do not understand the connection between health and environment. But if you think that sickness or ill health is just bad luck then maybe you need to keep reading.
I am rather passionate about Environmental Health, as this draws on my Naturopathic knowledge of the body and my love for natural products. This also draws both of my businesses together to state the same message.
First what is sickness and how do we get sick? According to Wikipedia it is “a particular abnormal condition that negatively affects the structure or function of all or part of an organism, and that is not due to any immediate external injury”. So, what this is saying is the body is negatively affected by an internal process that leads to a dysfunction of biological processes that leads to a disease state.
Sickness has an environmental aspect, think about the common cold. It is passed on by air borne particles that you can inhale, or they may land on you then you touch your mouth and again they are inhaled. This is an obvious way of spreading disease and we know from current circumstances where there has been much isolation, the incidence of the common cold has dropped considerably. The environmental aspect is where you can pick up this virus, maybe it is at work, or from childcare, or the shops or friends, either way they are all considered environmental aspects. The only way to prevent this is to isolate away from everyone (hello Melbournites we are pro’s at this), but we also know this is not a great solution.
The above is more an obvious environmental aspect of sickness. But there are more subtle ways you may be impacted by your environment, such as hidden mould, toxic products in your buildings, the various toxins and chemicals in the products you use at home or work.
This point is highlighted currently with the amount of cleaning happening due to the covid safe plans businesses must follow. Many clients are having more issues with their skin especially their hands due to excessive washing and sanitising, and the skin around your mouth due to mask wearing. Whilst this is a current necessity the point is that where you are working, shopping, entertaining etc has an impact on your health.
The idea of immune health is rather crucial because it plays a big part in monitoring your health. Your immune health is dependant on your gut health as a large part of your immunity is in your gut. So, this reasons that we have to consider what is going on in the gut when it comes to your general health. What you are eating, drinking, your hormonal health, your stress levels, your sleep and your exercise routine are all markers of your immune and your gut health. You might question at this point “how it this related to the environment?”
Well, if we look at food first, what type of food are you eating? Fruit and vegetables? Organic? Processed and packaged food? Take away? Are you drinking water? Drinking Alcohol? Drinking Soft drinks? Drinking Coffee? While all these questions are nutritionally related they also have an environmental component. As a Naturopath I would look at the overall diet to consider how balanced it is, but I would also consider the quality of the food, especially if you have some kind of illness or immune condition. This is when I might consider the toxins found in the food consumed.
Next I would consider over the counter medications. These guys are taken in mind boggling amounts and with mind boggling consequences. Often clients under estimate the damage they can do when taken long term and when they are mixed with other products. Prescribed pharmaceuticals are another issue, while they may be needed to keep your health in check there are often many nasty side effects that your body must deal with.
Staying in the home but moving to what is around you is also important. Let’s take cleaning products, because most (and no judgements here) of us like to clean our home, some even to excess where they are so clean there is no good bacteria at all. Anti-bacterial products have become overused (although we have a current crisis that calls for these products), generally they should not be used in the home. If you need an antibacterial product, you should look for a natural one that uses essential oils rather than a chemically based one.
After considering cleaning products we should consider our personal care products. We happily apply cleansers, creams, lotions, cosmetics, hair care etc etc on our bodies daily. Many of these products can interfere with your hormones and change the way they work. Often these chemicals are measured as safe in small amounts, but the issue here is that when you add all of the products together (say like in your morning shower routine and cosmetic routine) the amounts add up considerably and this is not tested or measured for safety.
So even from this short description we can see that where you work and live, what you eat, what y clean with and what you put on your skin can impact your health. These are your environmental factors and these are factors that you can have a strong influence on.
How might you do this?
Consider your health, do you suffer from any illnesses or allergies that impact your daily quality of living?
If you answer yes to the above questions, then you may want to consider some of the following areas:
- Eating Organically – this helps to reduce your pesticide levels and it increases your antioxidant status.
- Household cleaning – go natural, eco-friendly, there are so many great options these days and they work as well or if not better than the horrible nasty chemical loaded products.
- Personal care – again go low tox and eco-friendly. Adding in either vegan or cruelty free as why would you want to test this stuff on animals???
- Reduce your waste – we are such a wasteful bunch and while businesses are bringing in much better options to help us consume more consciously, we still need to actually do it.
- Consciously Spend – where you spend your dollars can make a big difference. Think of the current situation where Australian Made has become far more prevalent. Because they realise that shopping locally can help your local community.
If you currently changed some of your behaviours to reduce your environmental load, then I can positively say there would be an improvement to your health.
Mental Health, Allergies, Gut Health, Sleep, PMS, Headaches, Migraines, Chemical Sensitivities, Metabolic Conditions and can all be related to your environment. If you would like some more information about your health then head over and check out Magnolia Apothecary for some Naturopathic care or go and check out the products in The Conscious Spender as choosing low tox products that are eco-friendly can help achieve improve your environmental health.
Article written by Jan Caton BHSc-Nat. Jan is owner and Naturopath at Magnolia Apothecary and Owner of The Conscious Spender.