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World Environment Day 2019: Eco-friendly habits that are good for health

On this World Environment Day opt for eco-friendly healthy habits. ©Shutterstock

On this World Environment Day, we invite you to embrace green habits that are not only good for your surroundings but can also have a positive impact on your health.

Written by Editorial Team |Updated : June 5, 2019 6:33 PM IST

According to a 2018 report by the World Health Organization (WHO), 91 per cent of the entire global population lives in places where air quality is poor. The world body also mentions that 4.2 million individuals lose their lives every year due to outdoor pollution while 3.8 million deaths are caused due to indoor pollution globally. These alarming figures are a call to action for sure. We need to take active measures to save mother earth for our own sake. The World Environment Day is celebrated globally on 5th June of every year to send across this message.

The United Nations (UN) established this day way back in 1972 during a week-long conference at its headquarters. The aim was to spread awareness regarding various environmental issues such as deforestation, air pollution, global warming, contaminated food, so on and so forth.

The World Environment Day provides an opportunity to encourage healthy practices for a greener earth. Various campaigns are organised all across the world on this day focussing on a particular theme every year. This year's World Environment Day theme is 'Beat Air Pollution'.

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HEALTH CONSEQUENCES OF ENVIRONMENTAL POLLUTION

Air and water contamination are the most alarming forms of environmental pollution. They come with consequences like global warming, contamination of the food chain and a series of ailments. Air pollution can be the culprit behind your respiratory diseases like asthma. It can also up your risk of falling prey to cancer and heart ailments. A contaminated environment can affect your immunity, neurological, endocrine and reproductive functions. Water pollution, on the other hand, can give you multiple sclerosis, kidney failure, respiratory disease, gastro-intestinal disorders and cancer, among others.

EMBRACE GREEN HABITS

We, as responsible citizens, can take small but significant steps to improve our environmental conditions. On this World Environment Day, we share with you some eco-friendly habits that are good for your health too.

Pedal your way to work

Invest in a bicycle. Your body and the Mother Earth, both will thank you for this investment. If your office is within a 5 km radius of your home, ditch your car and take to the cycle to reach work. The increasing number of vehicles is a major culprit behind the alarmingly rising air pollution. According to the 2018 estimates by Global Carbon Project, carbon dioxide emission from vehicles was at an all-time high of 37.1 billion tonnes that year. So, on this World Environment Day make sure that you do your bit for Mother Earth. However, if it is not possible for you to commute to work on a bicycle, opting for public transport or carpooling could be an eco-friendly option.

Health benefit: Cycling is an excellent aerobic exercise for your muscles. In a study published in the journal BMJ, the researchers revealed that cycling to work can significantly reduce your risk of dying from cancer or heart disease.

Go slow on dairy and animal-based foods

The amount of water required for animal husbandry is very high, especially for dairy farm and cows. So, cutting down on animal-based foods can also play a key role in improving the environment. Animal-based foods, especially red meat like lamb, is responsible for the production of high levels of carbon dioxide. According to a study conducted by the Environmental Working Group, lamb generates 39.3 kg of carbon dioxide per kilogram eaten.

Health benefit: Reducing red meat from your diet can offer you lots of health benefits. In a study published in the International Journal for Vitamin and Nutrition, the researchers noted that prolonged consumption of red meat can lead to increased risk of colorectal cancer, cardiovascular ailments and type 2 diabetes in both the genders.

Say no to smoking

We all know about the health complications of smoking. But did you know that your cigarettes can have an adverse effect on the environment as well? Yes, the toxins present in cigarette get mixed into the air making it toxic for everyone. Also, the industrial production of cigarette leads to the release of air pollutants. Apart from causing air pollution, even the tossed cigarette butt can be damaging for the nature. A 2009 study that featured in the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health noted that discarded cigarette butts can contaminate the water bodies. If animals consume it, there can be significantly bad health consequences.

Health benefit: Quitting smoking can help you reduce the risk of developing certain cancers and prevent respiratory and cardiac issues. It can also strengthen your bones. A study published in the journal Clinical Cancer Research found that smoking tobacco accounts for 30 per cent of all the cancer-related deaths and around 90 per cent of lung cancer-related deaths. The researchers further elucidated that while quitting smoking can reduce your risk of dying from cardiovascular issues and certain cancers, smoking cessation comes along with withdrawal symptoms. So, you should look for counselling while trying to kick the butt.

Opt for organic skin care products

Majority of the skin care products that you use are prepared with ingredients that can cause pollution, kill plants and animals and have an adverse effect on your health as well. For example, many make-up and skin care products contain parabens. They are hazardous for the environment and harmful to your health. Parabens may disrupt your endocrine functions and increase your chance of certain cancers.

Health benefit: Going green with your beauty regimen will not only benefit your health but it will also take care of the surroundings in which you breathe. According to a study published in the Biological Trace Element Research, to increase the shelf life and enhance the effect of certain beauty products, companies use additives. These can trigger an allergic reaction along with other harmful effects on human skin. Hence, go for natural skin care products. For example, use aloe vera extract to tackle acne problems instead of any chemical-based product.

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