This article discusses how an individual can optimize their own environment in an effort to live in a state of vibrant health. For simplicity’s sake, lets consider everything outside of the human body as the environment: the ground, food, air, etc… If the environment is healthy, then an individual will look and feel vibrant, as the flower above; if the environment is unhealthy, then the individual will look droopy and sick, like the flower below.
The human being is a lot like a sunflower: if you give it fertile soil, clean water, and sunshine, it will grow tall and strong; if you plant it in sandy soil, pour contaminated water on it, and keep it in a closet, it will likely wither and become ill.
The foundation of our health is essentially rooted in our interaction with the environment, and although our species has contributed to many environmental catastrophes, the Earth still provides everything we need to lead a life of vibrant health. We cannot control all environmental influences, but we can control our personal interaction with the environment.
Optimizing Environmental Health
The first step to optimizing our relationship with the environment, and in turn our health, is to realize we are human beings, Homo sapiens, animals. We are not exempt from the laws of nature. We require the nourishment of the Earth as much as a sunflower. A 2012 study showed that when we are in direct contact with the earth, our physiology becomes optimized (1). “Grounding” was shown to improve sleep, blood oxygenation, heart rate variability, and immune response while also reducing pain, anxiety, irritability, inflammation (1). To receive these benefits, all we have to do is remove our shoes and walk barefoot in wet sand or soil. Better yet, we can take a swim in the ocean :-). Further, moderate sunlight exposure has been been shown to enhance mood and energy, improve depression, reduce the risk of dementia, among other benefits (2).
The second step is to optimize our food choices. We all understand that pesticides sprayed on food are done so to kill pests; they do not kill us if we consume them, but may contribute to abnormalities which can eventually lead to serious diseases. Genetically modified foods have also been shown to potentially cause a number of health complications (3). The best option is to eat organic food from local sources; this way you know who is growing your food and what they are doing to it before you consume it. Local Harvest is a great resource to find local food in your area. These folks can likely help you grow some of your own food as well :-).
The third step is to consider everything else you are putting in or on your body. This could be toothpaste, deodorant, sunscreen, shampoo, soap, laundry detergent, cologne, etc… A number of toxic chemicals could potentially be present in products that you are using. For instance, I was using a deodorant that contains triclosan, an anti-bacterial linked to adverse health effects, although the deodorant was not advertised as being anti-bacterial (4). The Environmental Working Group is a non-profit organization dedicated to informing consumers about the safety of the health products they are using.
The fourth step is to realize that many of our environments are not optimal: as a species, we have made a number of choices which have seriously contaminated our water supply and food sources. Our air contains heavy metals, our water pharmaceutical residues, and so forth. Mercola.com provides many resources for informing yourself on the topic and on ways to reduce your risk of environmental toxin exposure. Over time, this site will have more information on this topic as well.
The fifth step is to become aware of how outside influences, such as television, advertisements, media, and people are affecting you. Listening to calming, uplifting music will likely be more helpful than listening to a news broadcast; being in the company of positive, supportive friends will likely serve you more than the antithesis.
Over the next few weeks, I will expand on some of the topics mentioned in this article. Stay tuned and thank you for your support!
1) Gaétan Chevalier, Stephen T. Sinatra, James L. Oschman, Karol Sokal, and Pawel Sokal, “Earthing: Health Implications of Reconnecting the Human Body to the Earth’s Surface Electrons,” Journal of Environmental and Public Health, 2012 (2012), Article ID 291541, 8 pages. doi:10.1155/2012/291541.
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