In our last series, we talked about clean eating. Well, now it’s time to think even bigger about your health. If you’re avoiding chemicals in your food, shouldn’t you avoid them in the rest of your life, too?
Join us as we explain and explore the ideas of clean living to bring some natural healthy concepts into your life! On each Monday of February, we’ll present you with a post on how to live a cleaner life.
To get things rolling, let’s start with the basics. What exactly is clean living?
Clean Living in a Nutshell
When it comes down to it, clean living is a lifestyle focused on leading a healthy and natural life – and a healthy life is the first step toward a happy life. Skip the bad and risky stuff, and stick to the stuff you know is good. Avoid chemicals and artificial or synthetic things, and go for what’s real. Your body is your home, so take care of it! It’s the only one you get.
Where It Started
For much of history, clean living was a lifestyle focused on living a good and moral life. Clean meant abstaining from vices like alcohol, gambling, sexual acts that might be deemed perverse or unlawful, cursing, dishonesty, and, in general, things that just weren’t wholesome or appropriate. You can see a devotion to clean living in the spur of movements like Prohibition.
But as certain taboos begin to disappear and groups become less socially conservative, we see a change in what clean living means. While our grandparents and great-grandparents, and great-great-grandparents may have been thinking about morality and the condition of their souls when they talked about clean living, today it’s becoming a movement more directly connected to health – a movement that’s overdue.
Why We Need Clean Living Today
In our increasingly modern and fast-paced world focusing on lives of convenience, our health is suffering. Obesity, heart disease and cancer rates have skyrocketed. Couples struggle with infertility and children struggle with serious behavior issues at younger and younger ages. We’ve all heard the old line, “Must be something in the water.” Well, it’s become more like there must be something in everything.
How often do you pick up a product and actually recognize all the ingredients on the label? Do you really know where your food comes from? Your mattress and sofa cushions aren’t stuffed with feathers or straw, so what’s in there? What makes that new-car smell?
In a consumerism society, all of these new products and conveniences must come from somewhere, and most of them aren’t coming from the field or the forest like they did in the days of our ancestors. They’re coming from factories, plants and laboratories with the help of synthetic materials and more chemicals than anyone can imagine.
And while businesses and organizations assure us all of these new things are safe, how can we really be sure? It’s already known that long-term or concentrated exposure to a number of man-made chemicals and substances is unsafe; and while still unproven, there are suspected health hazards linked to many more. Some substances haven’t been around long enough for us to know the possible long-term effects on our health.
When it comes down to it, living a life filled with unnatural chemicals and compounds is a gamble. Maybe years from now they’ll be linked to cancer, or maybe they’re harmless. In the meantime, is it worth the risk?
Clean Living Guidelines
So how do you go about living clean? To make things simple, there are a few basic guidelines you can follow.
- Eat Clean
You are what you eat! What you eat can affect every aspect of your health, so make sure you’re eating the good stuff. You can learn more about clean eating from our blog series here, but, in a nutshell, clean eating means eating a diet of whole, organic and unprocessed foods – you know, real food. Avoid things with additives, preservatives and artificial ingredients.
- Avoid toxins, chemicals and synthetic ingredients.
We’ll get into greater detail about specific things to avoid in upcoming posts, but in the meantime, a good rule of thumb is, “If it doesn’t exist in nature, avoid it.” Another good test is the pronunciation test. If you can’t easily read aloud all of the ingredients on a product, you’ll probably want to find something else.
- Avoid or limit your use of tobacco, alcohol and drugs.
While things like cigarettes and alcohol could technically fit under our toxins category, most of us would probably agree that they’re not exactly in the same category as, say, household cleaners. These substances are meant to be consumed and alter your current state. Alcohol is a depressant and drugs exist as both depressants and stimulants. Caffeine is also a stimulant and can affect your mood, focus and more. Like many toxins, these substances tax your body’s natural detoxification systems and should be limited or avoided. (Skip the cigarettes, but there’s nothing wrong with a glass of wine now and again or a cup of coffee.)
This one should come as no surprise. An active body is a healthy body. Staying active isn’t just good for burning fat and keeping your heart healthy, but it’s also important for dealing with toxins. Physical activity gets your blood pumping and your lymphatic system, too, allowing it to expel the icky stuff it’s been collecting. Think of your body like water. Which is cleaner, a stagnant pond or a flowing stream?
- Support a clean mind and spirit
When we think about our health, we often forget that our mental and emotional health is just as important as our physical health. When you feel blue, anxious or stressed, your whole body feels it. So find ways to support a clear and positive mind and spirit to limit the stress put on your physical health. Try meditation, yoga or other mindfulness practices, or find other things that help you relax. Foster positive relationships and love for yourself. Don’t make yourself an afterthought; make your well-being a priority.
If clean living sounds like the sort of healthy lifestyle you want to lead, be sure to check in each Monday this month for a new post on how to life your life a little cleaner, a little healthier and a little better. Subscribe below.
Missed our Clean Eating Series? Check out the posts.