Home is where health begins. From carpets and wall colours to window shades and overhead lighting, your home can play a role in how much you weigh, your mood, and even your cancer risk. It's important to eliminate toxins, pollutants and other health risks from your home. There are many small changes that you can do to make your home healthier and improve your mood. The following recommendations can be implemented immediately and won't cost you anything.
1. Keep Pollutants Outside
With every step you make outside your home, your shoes come in contact with all kinds of toxins (oil, gasoline, pesticides, cleaning chemicals, dirt and more). Leave those pollutants outside.
Make it a habit to take your shoes off as soon as you walk in the door of your home. Place a chair or bench near the door and place a shoe basket or shelf near it to make it easier for your family and visitors to take off their shoes by the door. This will cut down the amount of dirt and allergens brought into your home.
2. Use Natural Cleansers
Commercial cleansers may make cleaning easier, but they may also contain carcinogenic ingredients, respiratory irritants and even pesticides. Try safer cleansers such as a mixture of baking soda and vinegar to clean tubs and toilets, salt to scrub kitchen sinks and borax for laundry.
Once you try cleaning with non-toxic cleaners you'll find it hard to believe you ever used harsh chemicals. Not only do they work just as well, they smell better, don't make you dizzy and don't pose a health risk.
3. Clean Smarter and More Often
The greatest health risk for children at home comes from the dust that gets on their hands from crawling on the floor and touching dust-covered surfaces, exposing them to dust mites, mould and pet dander, all of which can trigger allergies and asthma attacks.
To keep dust to a minimum, dust every few days with a slightly damp cloth, to prevent the dust from returning to the air. Avoid furnishings that trap dust, such as drapes, carpeting, throw pillows and stuffed animals. Wash curtains and slip covers regularly in hot water.
Use a vacuum with a high-efficiency particulate air filter, and use it twice a week. If you are building a new home consider a central vacuum system that vents outside. This will help remove dust and debris from settling back into your home.
4. Breathe Fresh Air
Fresh air saturated with oxygen is essential for healthy indoor living. A properly ventilated home will also help release humidity that may build up, condense and cause bacteria, dust mites and mould.
Whenever possible, open the windows to allow old air out and fresh air in. In colder or humid months, use a mechanical ventilation system to help keep indoor air fresh, dry and comfortable.
It's very important to ventilate areas of your home that may have increased air pollutants such as the basement, laundry room and workshop. Glues, paints, solvents, laundry detergents and even just dirty clothes can all cause unwanted air pollution. Keep all of these stored properly in a well ventilated area.
5. Stop Smoking
Take the smoke-free pledge. Don't smoke in your home or let visitors do so. Small children are most vulnerable to the health risks of second-hand smoke such as allergies and respiratory disease. If you must smoke, go outside. Moving to another room or opening a window is not enough to protect your children.
6. Drink Clean Water
Clean water is essential for good health. If your water comes from a municipal supply it is tested regularly by the water authority. If you have a private drinking water well, test it periodically.
On the way to our taps, water can pick up asbestos from old concrete pipes, rust, lead particles and dirt. The glass of water you take from the tap has had a long eventful journey but it is clean enough to drink. However, it could be cleaner and better for you if you use a good in-house water filtering system.
In order to keep your water filter functioning effectively, it is important to change the filter cartridges on a regular basis.
7. Inspire Healthy Eating Habits
Keep a bowl of fresh fruit and vegetables on your kitchen counter to encourage healthy eating and cut down on bad snacking habits.
Fresh fruit is best for you and your kids. Choose different colours to give you the widest variety of vitamins, minerals and nutrients that your body needs. Choose whole fruit over fruit juice. Often juice has lots of added sugar and preserving chemicals. Whole fruit has more fibre and will leave you feeling more satisfied.
8. Give Your House a Mood Boost
Research shows that a naturally lit home will help ease blues, insomnia and may even boost concentration. Whenever possible open the curtains and allow sunlight in. Equip your home with broad-spectrum light bulbs that closely resemble daylight. Research also shows that good lighting helps prevent overeating.
Keep a bright bunch of flowers in the living room. A vase of vibrant flowers along with green plants help generate a positive mood around the house and helps reduce stress, fatigue and illness. Indoor green plants also help reduce carbon monoxide.
Cut down on heavy and loud music. Play soft, classical or country background music to create an easy atmosphere to help you unwind.
9. Encourage Family Activities
Reduce the use of TV in your home and encourage family activities. Excessive TV watching has been linked to obesity and type 2 diabetes.
Place a Chess or board game in your living room. Playing board games familiarizes young children with letters and numbers, builds hand-eye coordination and encourages kids of all ages to interact with others. Board games can be a stepping stone for discussion about almost anything. Strategy games like Chess or Monopoly provide opportunities to talk about not only the game itself, but how it applies to the real world, real problems, etc. and most importantly helps build family bonds.
The choices we all make on a day-to-day basis can make a huge impact on living a healthy lifestyle. With just a little forethought and initiative, we can make our homes healthier and happier for all family members.