Eco living is, as we all know, great for the health of our planet and its ecosystems. But it is also great for your own health too. Eco living will make you healthier in a range of different ways – in both body and mind. Here are just some of the ways that taking steps towards eco living will make you healthier:
Growing Your Own Food and Eating Sustainably Means You'll Eat Better
Eco living means thinking more carefully about what you eat. And as we all know, what you choose to put in your body influences your general health.
Those who are trying to live in a more eco-friendly and sustainable way will often take steps to grow at least some of their own food. This is something we can all do at home, whether or not we have a garden or outside space. Even on a sunny windowsill, you can start growing some healthy produce to feed yourself and your family. Having access to home grown, fresh, healthy fruits, vegetables or herbs can have a huge impact on your health and well-being. And not having to head out and buy them means you're more likely to be able to afford to, and more likely to eat more of the right things.
Even if you can't or don't grow your own, eco living means making better choices about the types and characteristics of the foods you buy. Buying fresh, local, seasonal produce is great for your health as well as the planet.
Buying organic is better for your health too. If possible, those trying to live in a more eco way should buy organic whenever they can.
The commonly used herbicide glyphosate, and pesticides malathion and diazinon have been classified as 'probably carcinogenic to humans', for example. Glyphosate and malathion are two toxic chemicals still in widespread use in non-organic agriculture around the world. The former is widely used here in the UK. These and other toxic substances have also been implicated in endocrine disturbance.
If you eat non-organic food, you are likely to be consuming pesticide residues. Government reports on the pesticide residues on the foods we eat are produced each year. Certain foodstuffs are shown to be more 'dirty' than others. The problem is that most of us will have no way of knowing exactly what we are consuming with our food, unless, of course, we eat only organic produce.
This is a major concern, since long term pesticide exposure has been linked to the development of Parkinson’s disease; asthma; depression and anxiety; attention deficit and hyperactivity disorder (ADHD); and cancer, including leukaemia and non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. The effects of individual chemicals can also be enhanced or altered when combined with one or more other such substances, which makes it very difficult to know exactly how we are being affected.
Eating organic produce won't only allow you to avoid the potential health risks associated with consuming toxic substances. It can also be better for your health. A 2016 study in the British Journal of Nutrition showed that organic meat and milk can have about 50% more omega-3 fatty acids than non-organic products. The organic milk tested in the study also had less saturated fat.
Other findings have also suggested that eating other organic products can be better for your health. For example, a six year study found than organic onions had about a 20% higher antioxidant content than those that were conventionally grown.
Studies of the nutrient content in organic foods vary in results due to differences in the ground cover and maturity of the organic farming operation. Nutrient content also varies from farmer to farmer and year to year. However, reviews of multiple studies show that organic varieties do provide significantly greater levels of vitamin C, iron, magnesium, and phosphorus than non-organic varieties of the same foods.
Ditching Plastic Means Avoiding Negative Health Effects
We all know we should be avoiding single use plastic products, and avoiding plastic use in our homes whenever we can. Plastic is not just bad for the planet, it's bad for our health too.
Some plastics also degrade when exposed to sunlight and release harmful chemicals into your food. In early 2018, the World Health Organisation (WHO) launched a health review after micro-plastics in the form of plastic fibres were found in 93% of popular bottled water brands. Scientists found twice has many microplastics in bottled water as they did in tap water. Certain plastics may also harbour harmful bacteria when scratched or damaged.
Plastic in our food chains and around us in our daily lives has been shown to threaten our health in a range of different ways. BPA in plastic is just one notable example. It can interfere with hormones in the human body. When you use certain plastics in certain applications, your reproductive health could be at risk.
Unfortunately, research has revealed that BPS could be just as harmful as BPA. BPS was used as a BPA replacement because it was believed to be more resistant to leaching. But research has revealed that over 80 percent of Americans have detectable levels of BPS in their urine. A 2013 study found that even concentrations of less than one part per trillion of BPS can disrupt a cell’s normal function. When a cell's normal function is disturbed, diabetes, obesity, asthma, birth defects or cancer can potentially occur.
Using Natural Products Means Having a Healthier Home Environment
Many of the chemicals in household cleaning, and personal cleaning and beauty products are bad for our health. So making the switch to natural products will not only benefit the planet. It will make for a healthier home environment and make you healthier too.
Cleaning products, air fresheners and other such items can all be replaced by natural products that are less damaging to your health and will make you breathe easier. Reducing the volatile organic compounds (VOCs) in your home could help improve your health and your family's.
In addition to the above, it is worthwhile noting that building self-reliance as you work towards eco living will boost resilience. And this can reduce stress. Your eco anxiety may also be reduced as you begin to see that you are doing the right thing, which could help you sleep better. Which is another key ingredient in good health.