Most of us go through life and our days a bit like robots. We go through the motions as we have for years, if not decades. Very few of us think about why we do what we do. It’s just a routine, it just happens.
But in reality, every little seemingly unimportant or benign decision we make (or don’t make) has a huge impact on our health. Why? Because in developed countries, our biggest threats today are chronic disease related; things like cancer, diabetes and heart disease.
And these conditions are related to our environments, our lifestyles and our diets. Sure there is a genetic component, but researchers now say that bad genes only play a role in “about 5 to 10 percent of all cancers” for example.
So the bad news is: Your chances of getting these common chronic diseases are largely determined by your actions every day. The good news? Your chances of getting these common chronic diseases are largely determined by your actions every day! There is so much you can do to reduce your toxic burden and make choices that encourage health.
Consider this scenario:
You wake up to an alarm clock because your phone is not in your bedroom. You need to leave the house at 8:15 a.m. and your alarm goes off at 7 a.m. Because your phone is not in your room, you take a few undistracted minutes to breathe deeply, smile, think of three things you are grateful for about the day before, and a few things you’re looking forward to about this day. You set an intention for the day (or a prayer) and then you’re off. You open the curtains to let in the natural light, do a few brief yoga poses or stretching exercises to open up your body and get rid of the stiffness from sleeping.
You brush your teeth with non-toxic toothpaste, use all organic and non-toxic soap, shampoo and face wash in the shower, use an organic cotton towel to dry off, and then apply body lotions or oils that have only a few ingredients, and you can pronounce all of them because they exist in nature.
You get dressed and then head to the kitchen to have a room temperature (or warm) glass of water with some fresh lemon juice to jump-start your digestive system and detox your organs, and take a probiotic to support your gut health. You make a pot of organic coffee or a cup of tea and a smoothie for breakfast with 12 nutrient-dense, organic fruits, vegetables, seeds, nuts and spices. You sip the warm beverage and the smoothie slowly, looking out the window, not on a device, and think about how delicious it is, and what a nice day it’s going to be.
After you finish eating, you take a few supplements that you know you’re deficient in like vitamin D, vitamin K2 and magnesium. You grab a few metal containers of food you prepped the night before for lunch and a late afternoon snack in case you get hungry. You throw some workout clothes in a bag for that Pilates class you signed up for with your friend after work, and head out the door. It has been one hour. You have made over 20 decisions that directly impact your health.
Here is another scenario:
You wake up to the alarm clock on your phone next your head. The phone has been emitting radiation all night just inches away from your brain. It has also been vibrating with notifications. Only one or two of them woke you up, but your sleep was still interrupted one or two times unnecessarily. The second time you finally turn on the do not disturb moon on your phone, but it still takes you a little while to get back to sleep.
You wake up groggy, you can’t imagine getting out of bed yet. You snooze a few times and finally grab your phone. You check your email and realize your boss wrote you a bunch of emails late last night. Your heart rate rises. I’ll just deal with her on my commute, you think. You also think, she is so annoying, I can’t wait to not have to deal with her someday. On to more fun things, you scroll through Instagram. Your post yesterday got hardly any likes! People are so mean. You see that a few friends from high school all went away on a trip together this past weekend. That’s weird, you think, I should have been invited to that. You feel slighted and a little hurt.
Suddenly you realize you need to leave the house in 30 minutes or you’ll be late for work. Ugh! You finally wobble into the bathroom. You brush your teeth with some blue colored toothpaste made by a big name brand because isn’t all toothpaste the same? You get in the shower and use more big name brand body and hair products. These are huge companies so this stuff must be safe, you thought when you threw them in your cart a few weeks ago. Soap is just soap right?
You towel off with some cheap towels you bought in college, you can now smell the scent of your generic detergent under your arm pits. You slather on some aluminum-based antiperspirant because sweating is gross, and then some sort of popular drug store cream on your face and body. The ingredients list is long and complicated. You’ve never looked at it. You get dressed and now you’ve only got a few minutes, so you hurry into the kitchen.
You chug a glass of cold water from the tap (filtering is for drama queens) to wash away the strong minty flavor in your month. Your organs shudder as it comes through them. You open the fridge, it doesn’t have much in it and you don’t have time to make breakfast anyway. You plan to grab a coffee on the way to work, and some kind of pastry or breakfast sandwich there.
You’ll have no idea where the breakfast you buy comes from, and since the nearest coffee shop isn’t organic, you’ll end up eating dirty meat, dairy, refined carbs and drinking glyphosate-covered coffee. Maybe you’ll even put a fake sweeter packet in there. Zero calories, woohoo! You’ll spike your blood sugar, and then get exhausted and hungry in a few hours when the refined carbs and the fake sugar wear off. You’ll worry about lunch then, and if you need a snack, there’s a candy bowl in the office kitchen, or maybe you’ll just have a second coffee in the afternoon.
These 20 decisions in just the first hour of your day, done for months, years or even decades are what make up the other 90-95 percent of chronic disease risk, and therefore are truly your healthcare
Adrienne Nolan-Smith is a board certified patient advocate, speaker and the founder of WellBe, a media company and lifestyle brand focused on bridging the large gap between the healthcare system and the wellness movement to help people prevent and reverse chronic health issues naturally. She received her BA from Johns Hopkins University and her MBA from the Kellogg School at Northwestern University. She lives with her husband in New York City. You can follow her for daily inspiration and information @getwellbe
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