When it comes to improving our health, we tend to focus on nutrition and exercise, and we spend less time focusing on how our environment can affect our body. Our home is where we spend a lot of our time, so it's important we figure out ways to make our home more healthy. Whether it means cleaning up more often or removing harmful toxins, paying attention to our living environment can have an affect on not only our longterm health, but even how good we feel in the moment.
"Your home environment should be your safe haven," says Nesochi Okeke-Igbokwe, MD over email. "It should be where you retreat to after a long busy day, and the state of this environment essentially has major bearing on your overall health. If you live in an unclean, unsafe, or unkempt home, such an environment will undoubtedly negatively impact your health, and this can ultimately lead to dire health consequences."
Everyone's living space is different, and there are some aspects you can't control, but you can make a few easy tweaks that can help improve the health of your home. If you want to clean up your house or apartment and make it a safer environment, consider these 11 ways to make your home more healthy.
1. Get An Air Purifier
The first step to good health is making sure you're breathing in clean air. "Air pollution significantly affects our health," says Erin Stair, MD, MPH over email. "Most recently, fine particulate matter has been linked to not only lung issues but heart disease. Investing in a state-of-the art air purifier can help mitigate the risk, although sometimes the particles are too small to be filtered out."
2. Switch To Soy Candles
Scented candles can make your home smell nice, but they come at a risk. Petroleum-based paraffin wax candles emit potentially hazardous chemicals that can lead to health risks such as cancer, common allergies, and asthma, according to a study from South Carolina State University. Vegetable-based options such as 100 percent soy candles don't produce those harmful chemicals, so opt for those instead.
3. Avoid Chemical-Based Products
Avoid the use chemical pesticides or chemical-based cleaners. "Use essential oils, basic soap and water, or plant-based products," says Stair. "Toxic chemicals in cleaners have been linked to a myriad of health problems, may aggravate asthma, and may be carcinogens." Other good natural cleaning solutions include vinegar, baking soda, and lemon.
4. Control Your Light
"Light pollution significantly interferes with sleep," says Stair. "If you live in a city environment, get shades, get an eye mask, and do whatever it takes to block out the light. Bad sleep is linked to obesity, cancers, memory loss and mental illness."
5. Clean Out Your Pantry
"If you are trying to maintain a healthy diet or lifestyle, rid your pantries of all tempting, empty-caloried junk food," says Stair. "If you keep 'bad' food in your home, you will eat it." Research agrees. A study from Cornell University found that people who kept cereal and soda on their countertops were more unhealthy than people who left out fruit instead.
6. Plant A Garden
Plant some trees around your property, or if you don't have the space, start a small garden. "People who live in areas with more green space face less crime, less vandalism and tend to be happier overall," says Stair.
7. Get A Pet
Need a reason to finally adopt that dog or cat? A study published in the Clinical and Experimental Pharmacology & Physiology concluded that pet ownership is associated with positive health benefits, including improved mood and emotional state, lower blood pressure and reduced cardiovascular risk.
8. Get Rid Of Dust
It's not uncommon for people's homes or apartments to be hot beds of dust, whether its piling up in the corners of your rooms, under your bed and on your pillows, or on that untouched bookshelf. Chronic exposure of dust mites can cause allergies and asthma, according to the American Lung Association, so be sure to vacuum frequently, change your bedding and pillowcases often, and reduce the humidity in your house.
9. Filter Your Tap Water
If you're used to drinking tap water directly from the sink, you may want to get a water filter to ensure your water isn't contaminated. Although your local water company filters tap water, it still contains contaminants such as lead, chlorine, E. coli, and pesticides, according to WebMD. Getting a filter — whether it's a pitcher that goes into your fridge or one that attaches to your faucet — can help remove these contaminants.
10. Store Your Food In Glass Not Plastic
When putting away leftovers, use glass containers instead of plastic, which contain toxic chemicals that can wreak havoc on your hormones and even cause cancer, according to the Breast Cancer Fund. "Plastic leaches toxins into food you consume destroys our precious environment," says Jennie Ann Freiman, MD over email. "Glass is infinitely reusable and recyclable, and it is inert, so it doesn't leach."
11. Ditch The Teflon
"Don't use non-stick cookware, which exposes household members to toxic fumes from the synthetic polymers used to make non-stick," says Freiman. "Instead cook with cast iron or stainless steel."
Making these changes can help prevent you from getting sick as well as protect your health in the long run.
Images: Fotolia; Pixabay (11)