I know that living in a toxic location is hard.  Around the world, our food and water are becoming more toxic, air pollution is on the rise, and environmental toxins are everywhere. All this can accelerate the development of acute and chronic health issues.

If staying healthy regardless of where you live is important to you, but you’re not sure where to start, here are my top 10 core strategies for healthy living in challenging places around the world.

  1. Make healthier choices when shopping: Better Choices = Better Health!   In the markets, choose or ask for the freshest produce they have. With packaged foods, read the ingredient and nutritional labels, and look for alternatives with less ingredients, additives and chemicals that are hard to pronounce and more real food ingredients.
  2. Eat more whole foods like fruits, vegetables, and whole grains  Living in challenging environments increases your need for vitamins, minerals and other nutrients. Choose quality, nutrient-dense whole foods like vegetables, fruits, whole grains, legumes and nuts, and quality meat and dairy products. Preparing whole foods does take more time, but it is an important investment in your long-term health. 
  3. Reduce consumption of processed foods 
    Packaged foods are very convenient and tempting to use when you have a busy schedule.  But they contain many artificial chemicals and additives and few nutrients for the amount of food that you eat, depriving your body of what it needs to stay healthy.  Reducing the use of processed foods will make room for eating healthier whole foods.
  4. Reduce sugar, caffeine, nicotine, and alcohol consumption 
    Sugar, caffeine, nicotine (including second-hand smoke) and alcohol consumption will deplete your body of vitamins and minerals. Reduce or eliminate these ingredients for better health.
  5. Drink adequate water every day 
    Many physical symptoms occur just because of being dehydrated. Drinking water also helps to flush out toxins from your body. In developing countries, drink only properly filtered water, such as reverse osmosis filtered water, to avoid getting sick and ingesting hazardous chemicals. A basic rule of thumb is your body weight in pounds divided by 2 equals the number of ounces of water to drink daily, or your body weight in kilograms divided by 30 is the number of liters to drink daily.
  6. Buy less toxic, more eco-friendly cleaners 
    As with food shopping, look at the ingredient labels for cleaning products. Choose the least toxic options that you can, especially if you have small children that crawl and touch everything! White distilled vinegar is a great non-toxic, anti-bacterial cleaner for things like washing produce, cleaning furniture, deodorizing laundry, and freshening the air.
  7. Add toxin-absorbing plants to your home 
    It is well documented that a number of common plants have the ability to absorb toxic chemicals from the air. Adding these plants in your home will help reduce the toxins in the air. The 6 that filter 3 of the 4 toxins tested are English Ivy, Peace Lily, Red-edged Dracaena (marginata), Dracaena Warneckii, Gerber Daisy, and Potted Mum. 
  8. Make time to relax and de-stress 
    Emotional and spiritual health are also important parts of your overall health. Stress can destroy us physically, emotionally and spiritually. Because everyone responds to stress differently, pay attention to how often you need to take a break and how much time you need to de-stress and re-charge yourself. You may need more than your normal amount of sleep and de-stress time if you live in a developing country. Spend time with people you love and enjoy being with to refresh your heart and soul.
  9. Begin and/or maintain a regular exercise routine 
    A regular exercise routine is so important for overall health in so many ways. The Mayo Clinic's website lists a number of great benefits of exercise including controlling weight, lowering risk of infections and chronic diseases, improving mood, energy and sleep. Choose a type of exercise that you will enjoy and works with your time and budget. Also work on being consistent, even if it's just 15 minutes a day

 

References:

Haas, E. M. (2006). Staying Healthy with Nutrition.  Berkeley: Celestial Arts.

Mateljan, George (2006).  The World’s Healthiest Foods: Essential Guide for the Healthiest        Way of Eating. Seattle: George Mateljan Foundation.