“Make it easier, and look after it”We are connected to the world around us. Our environment has a big influence on our lifestyle choices. Shaping our environment where we can in order to support our metabolic health is therefore important.
In addition, we must make sure we look after our environment for ourselves and for future generations. Health Results four Environment Levers are:
- Natural World
- Avoiding Toxins
Our environment shapes what we do and we can shape our environment. Our behaviour and choices are driven by habits and triggers. Recognising this can help us to create an environment to support the choices we want to make. If we are deciding to eat more of a certain food, or to be more physically active, we can think of ways to make this more likely. For example, by making sure we have the food we want to eat in the fridge or freezer, whilst not bringing the foods into the house that we are trying to avoid.
Our surroundings can also affect our mood. We can’t control everything around us and we certainly shouldn’t focus on the things we can’t change. But we can change some aspects of the world around us – which may be as simple as placing a colour picture on the wall, for example.
We are made to be exposed to natural sunlight. There are at least two benefits of sunlight.
Natural sunlight on our eyes early in the day instructs our brain that it is wake up time. This helps set our body clock and all the workings of our body for the 24 hour period. Sunlight early in the day may also help us to sleep by setting a 16 hour countdown time until it is time to sleep again.
Vitamin D. We get some vitamin D from our food. We get a lot more vitamin D from sunlight on our skin. Not getting enough natural sunlight on our skin can lead to a deficiency in vitamin D, which may impact on our metabolic health, and also put us at more risk of some infections.
We are probably hard wired to spend some our time in nature. Whether that is around green spaces, trees, water, plants, or simply seeing the sky and clouds. Where we live and daily life can affect the availability we have to the natural world. Finding something to notice in the natural world, big or small, could help wellbeing.
Also importantly we need to look after the natural world. Our health is dependent on the health of our environment. We are part of an ecosystem. Reducing pollution and waste, and supporting sustainable agriculture will pay back for all our health and for future generations.
Very small pollutants in the air, known as PM2.5, can affect our health and increase our risk of lung disease and cardiovascular disease such as heart attacks and also poor metabolic health. Outside air quality can be worsened by the burning of fossil fuels, in cars for example. Whilst tobacco smoking can have the same effect whether directly inhaling or in a smoky environment inside.
In addition to the air we breathe, we need to be mindful of:
- Toxins in our food
- Toxins in creams, potions, and lotions
- Electromagnetic field emissions from electronics