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Living Clean and Green


By Mark Hyman, MD

This article originally appeared in The UltraMind Solution.

Our bodies and brains are exquisitely sensitive to environmental toxins and stresses. That is why living clean and green is an essential part of The Daniel Plan.

Here are my suggestions for how to take care of your own health, and the planet at the same time. There is an intimate connection between the sustainability of our own health and the health of the planet. Small every day choices lead to big changes over time for our communities, our planet, and ourselves.

Living clean and green involves 4 steps:

  1. Drink clean water
  2. Limit your exposure to chemicals and metals
  3. Keep your body fluids moving
  4. Reduce your exposure to electro-pollution or electromagnetic radiation

Drink Clean Water

You should drink a minimum of 6-8 8-ounce glasses of clean filtered water every day you are on the program (and every day for the rest of your life for that matter). One of the reasons drinking this much water every day is important has to do with detoxification.

Toxins are ultimately excreted through your stool and urine. When you don’t drink enough water, you become constipated and have darker urine and urinate less frequently. These are signs that your detoxification system is not operating optimally and your heath and mind will suffer as a consequence.

Drinking water will also help you reduce withdrawal symptoms from addictive substances and food allergens you may experience.

Unfortunately much of our water supply is contaminated with microbes, pesticides, plastics, metals, chlorine, fluoride  (yes fluoride) and other toxins. So drinking water out of the tap is less than ideal.

The best water to drink is water that has been passed through a filtering process. Common and inexpensive filters are available such as carbon filters like the ones Brita makes.

However, the best filter is a reverse osmosis filter that puts the water through a multi-step process to remove these microbes, pesticides, metals, and other toxins. This can be installed under the sink. It’s a great filtering system (and it’s cheaper over the long run). You can learn more about reverse osmosis filters and look into investing in one here.

Water in plastic bottles contains phthalates or bisphenol A, toxic petrochemicals. So avoid them if you can. Mineral water or still water in glass bottles is acceptable to drink.

Limit Exposure to Chemicals and Metals

While doing all the things in the following list is neither practical nor realistic, it is unfortunately what is optimal for our health. Incorporate the things you can. Find alternatives to the water you drink, get an air filter or get rid of molds and other sources of indoor air pollution, the garden or household chemicals you use and artificial lighting.

  • Avoid water from plastic bottles, which contain phthalates. Drink water that comes in glass bottles or just filter your tap water as I explained above.
  • Avoid excess exposure to environmental petrochemicals and toxins (garden chemicals, dry cleaning, car exhaust, secondhand smoke).
  • Avoid charbroiled foods that contain cancer causing polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons.
  • Avoid micro-waved food, which produces more AGE’s or advanced glycation end products in the food and creates more oxidative stress and inflammation.
  • Use HEPA/ULPA filters and ionizers to reduce dust, molds, volatile organic compounds (off-gassing from synthetic carpets, furniture and paints), and other sources of indoor air pollution.
  • Have house plants that help detoxify the air.
  • Reduce heavy metal exposure by reducing intake or exposure to predatory and river fish, water, lead paint, thimerosol-containing products, silver fillings.)
  • Clean and monitor heating systems for release of carbon monoxide—the most common cause of death by poisoning in America.
  • Reduce or eliminate the use of toxic household and personal care products (aluminum-containing underarm deodorant, antacids and pots and pans, petrochemical and toxin containing creams and cosmetics)
  • Avoid or minimize exposure to bright and fluorescent lit areas. Use subdued full-spectrum/natural incandescent bulbs or candlelight as much as possible.

Get Your Fluids Moving

In addition to exercise, which is a powerful natural detoxifier, you can include the following. Remember the only way toxins have to get out of your body is through urine, stool, and sweat.

  • Facilitate excretory functions:
    • Have 1-2 bowel movements a day
    • Drink 6-8 glasses of water a day to have clear urine
    • Sweat regularly and profusely with exercise and the use of exercise, steam baths, or saunas.

Minimize Your EMR (Electromagnetic Radiation) Exposure

We do not live in an ideal world. And it is impossible to eliminate exposure to electromagnetic radiation. Debate still rages. The research on harm from EMR is not as extensive as it should be. Yet the absence of evidence is not evidence of absence.

Just because we have not proven beyond a doubt that EMR is harmful, neither is there any evidence that it is safe. Until we have clear evidence of safety I recommend erring on the side of caution, rather than waiting for 40 years like we did with cigarettes before it was clear there was harm.

Here are things you can do to minimize your risk from EMR. Do what you can.

  • Try to minimize your exposure and usage of wireless communication devices including cell phones, cordless phones, and WiFi devices.
  • Turn cell phone off when not in use and sleeping. Do not keep it near your head or use it to play games, movies, etc.
  • Try to keep your cell phone at least 6-7 inches away from your body while it is on, or when you are talking, texting, or downloading.
  • Use air tube headsets or speaker mode when talking. Wireless and wired headsets may still conduct radiation.
  • Do not keep your cell phone in your pocket or on your hip all day. The bone marrow in your hip produces 80 percent of the body’s red blood cells and is especially vulnerable to EMR damage. The close proximity to your genitals may also affect fertility.
  • Children and pregnant women should avoid talking on cells phones.
  • Replace as many cordless and WiFi items as you can with wired, corded lines (phones, Internet, games, appliances, devices, etc.).
  • Minimize or space out your computer use. Sit as far back from the screen as possible; flat screens are preferable. Use wired Internet connections, not WiFi—especially for laptops.
  • Keep a low-EMR sleep, home, and personal zone.
    • Move your alarm clock radio at least 3 feet from your head or use battery powered ones; 6 feet is the recommended distance from all electronic devices during sleep.
    • Avoid waterbeds, electric blankets and metal frames, which attract electromagnetic frequencies.
    • Futons and wood framed beds are better than metal-coiled mattresses and box springs.
    • When using electric stoves, cook on back burners instead of front, as much as possible.
    • Metals attract EMR: keep them away from and off of the body.
  • Measure EMR from wireless and wired devices with appropriate meters
  • To decrease exposures, consider installing EMR filters and preventive technologies to electrical circuits, devices, and appliances. These may help although human studies are limited.

Incorporating as many of these steps in your life as you can will go a long way toward protecting you, your children, and our world from the sea of toxins we are now exposed to.

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Xanthis A, Hatzitolios A, Koliakos G, Tatola V. Advanced glycosylation end products and nutrition--a possible relation with diabetic atherosclerosis and how to prevent it. J Food Sci. 2007 Oct;72(8):R125-9.