Take Care Of Yourself By Taking Care of the Planet!
Earth Day and World Health Day 2016
BY: LESLIE RESCHLY, BSN, RN
After it’s inception in 1970, Earth Day was recognized in my Iowa elementary school with a small tree seedling in a Styrofoam cup (green huh?) for each student to tote on the walk home then plant as homework. Thankfully, over time the mission to secure a healthy future for generations has become more mainstay for many!
Not only the month for Earth Day, April is also marked by World Health Day on April 7th. This year the focus is to manage the growing epidemic of Diabetes through diet, healthy body weight and exercise. These two days of acknowledgement allow us to look at Eco-friendly behaviors you can implement to benefit your health. Taking care of your health by taking care of the planet are in- terconnected. Your body and mind are affected by the surroundings in which you dwell. In fact, the quality of the environment can cause disease; for example, smog produces respiratory and heart disease.
Pat yourself on the back if you are us- ing reusable bags for shopping, choosing paper bags if necessary (or even declining bags when possible) and avoiding plastic bottle waste by carrying your own BPA free water bottle. There are several available in rubber coated glass and aluminum if you are truly anti-plastic. But can you take a more active role?
EAT REAL FOOD
Those of you who follow this column know the importance of daily exercise and maintenance of a normal body weight. This month, let’s focus on this goal of eat- ing high quality, whole foods. Strive to consume mostly plant products and un- processed foods, which are low in fat and nutrient dense—excellent choices for the prevention of Diabetes and Heart Disease. Avoid chemicals and opt for organic if there is a choice. Buy local through a Farmer’s Market or local Co-op. Greenlands Farm in Bolivia has an option for purchasing veggies. Local, fresh picked produce has no loss of nutrients due to travel and limited energy spent in transport. Have you ever considered the environmental cost of transportation of your food to you?
Make the choice to switch out white rice for Quinoa, which is a high protein grain. Did you know that white rice requires tremendous amounts of water for processing? Choose whole wheat over white anything for increased nutrients and fiber plus refining takes energy and resources. Select seafood that is lower on the food chain or farmed as many large predatory fish contain more mercury, lead, industrial chemicals and pesticides. Local fish markets such as Haag and Sons can help you secure the perfect filet. Cut one meat meal per week. As suggested by the Environmental Working Group, skipping one burger per week is the environmental equivalent of “taking your car off the road for 320 miles”. Many environmentalists also proclaim the benefits of grass fed beef, as less energy is required for the growing and processing of grain to feed the cows. An added benefit is Grass-fed beef is felt to have more Omega 3 fatty acids, vitamins, fewer calories and higher levels of antioxidants.
PLANT YOUR OWN GARDEN!
Many web sites, blogs and products exist to grow healthy vegetables in even the smallest of spaces and containers. Herbs can be grown in very small pots and add dimensions to your salads and cooking.
Surprisingly, as I was proofing this article to send to the editor, NBC Nightly News ran a disturbing story regarding the state of the diet of America. They reported that almost 60% of the calories in the American diet are from ultra processed foods! These foods contain salt, fat, additives, preservatives and added sugar accounting for almost 90% of the added sugar in our diet. The end results, weight gain, Diabetes and Heart Disease! Join me in making conscientious choices to promote your health and protect our beautiful Earth!
For your health, I urge you to contemplate your choices daily; consume less and waste less. Here are some suggestions:
- Buy in bulk in reusable containers
- Use BPA free reusable water bottles, instead of plastic
- When buying new appliances, choose energy efficient models
- Consider products which utilize 100% post consumer recycled paper
- Avoid the use of a straw! This simple choice is huge
- If possible, ride your bike or walk to work or for errands
- Read your labels. If you need a chemistry textbook to recognize an ingredient, it is probably not good for you.
- Beware of the sugar content in low fat items
- Try colorful variations to vegetables, I myself love purple carrots!
- Use a natural deodorant to avoid the aluminum in antiperspirant. As an alternative, try using baking soda, you can find recipes online.
- Wear essential oils, perfumes
or cologne may contain formaldehyde, acetaldehyde and aluminum.
** Do you have health questions or suggestions? – email firstname.lastname@example.org