Healthy Lifestyle

Ways to keep yourself and the earth healthy

Grandfather and grandson in garden


By Alberto J. Gavilanes Aguirre, MD, Nuvance Health


Nurturing our planet is as essential as caring for ourselves. There are simple yet impactful tips we can follow to foster a healthier lifestyle for ourselves and our environment. 


Add fresh fruits and veggies to your diet


A nutritious diet not only supports our well-being but it also contributes to a healthy environment. Here are some tips to guide you in maintaining a balanced diet:


Choose locally sourced and organic produce: Choosing organic food benefits our health because it is grown without pesticides, fertilizers and GMOs. Opting for organic options reduces your exposure to harmful chemicals while supporting sustainable farming practices. 


Pack your plate with nutrients: Adopting a plant-based diet provides various health benefits and contributes to a more sustainable food system. They can lower the risk of heart disease, obesity and type 2 diabetes. Try adding more fruits, vegetables, whole grains, legumes, nuts and seeds to your meals. 


Related content: Nourishing the heart



Practice sustainability: Consider the environmental impact of your food choices, including packaging, food waste and production methods. By making mindful adjustments to our diet, we can benefit ourselves and the environment. When shopping for groceries, bring a reusable bag for your fresh produce and plan your meals in advance to reduce waste. 

Did you know that nearly 1 in 4 bags of groceries ends up in the trash. If you have perishable food items like meat, fruits and vegetables nearing expiration, consider freezing them to extend their shelf life and stretch your dollar.


Walk, bike or carpool for a greener commute


While we heavily rely on our vehicles to get us from point A to point B, try opting for a different way of getting to your destination if it is feasible. Exploring alternative modes of transportation can help reduce our carbon footprint while promoting personal and environmental well-being. Here are some eco-friendly options to consider:


Walk or bike for shorter distances: Trade in your car keys for your running shoes. Take advantage of the nice weather and try walking instead of driving to the corner store. Not only does this reduce air pollution and traffic congestion, but it offers numerous health benefits, including improvements in your: 

  • Cardiovascular health

  • Mental health

  • Bone health

  • Muscle strength 

  • Weight management 


The CDC recommends adults to get at least 150 minutes of moderate exercise each week, which is a little over 20 minutes a day. During your annual check up with your primary care doctor, they can help come up with an exercise plan that is right for you.




Share a ride: Planning a hike with your friends? Consider carpooling! Many of the trailheads have minimal parking as it is. By driving together, you not only reduce the number of vehicles on the road but also decrease traffic congestion, emissions and fuel consumption. And you don’t have to worry about needing too many parking spots!

These sustainable transportation options not only benefit our environment but also improve physical fitness, reduce stress and enhance our mental health. 


Reduce, reuse and recycle for a sustainable lifestyle


Minimizing waste isn’t just about helping the environment — it’s also about fostering healthier lifestyles for ourselves and our community. Here are some measures we can take to reduce waste:


Opt for reusable products: Single-use items like plastic bags, disposable utensils and water bottles contribute to pollution in our landfills and oceans. Choose reusable options whenever possible, such as reusable shopping bags, stainless steel utensils and reusable water bottles. Some local coffee shops encourage you to bring your clean, reusable mug from home. Call your favorite shop ahead of time to check!


Reuse, recycle and upcycle: Prolonging the life of everyday items aids in resource conservation, pollution reduction and waste minimization. Here are a few ways we can practice sustainability:

  • Utilize glass jars for storing leftovers or homemade items like pickles or sauces. 

  • Repurpose clothing that no longer fits by donating or upcycling. If you’re crafty, you can transform multiple t-shirts into a blanket!

  • Give old towels and blankets new life by upcycling them into cleaning rags or donating them to your local animal shelter.


Reduce plastic usage: Plastics are an environmental hazard and release harmful chemicals into the environment. Plastics can take hundreds of years to decompose. To minimize plastic waste, choose products with minimal or no plastic packaging, use reusable containers and avoid single-use straws and cutlery. Consider eco-friendly alternatives like bamboo or stainless steel, which are both sustainable choices for reducing plastic waste.


Create a greener living space


Making your home environmentally friendly isn’t just good for the planet — it’s beneficial for your health and well-being! Here are some ways you can create a greener home:


Use natural cleaners: Traditional cleaning products often contain harmful chemicals. Switch to non-toxic, bleach-free cleaners or create your own using ingredients like white vinegar, baking soda, water and dish soap. These natural cleaners not only improve indoor air quality but they also reduce allergies and respiratory issues which in turn creates a healthier living environment for you and your family! If you have a persistent cough, reach out to your primary care provider for guidance.




Conserve water and electricity: Consider fixing your leaky kitchen faucet, installing low-flow showerheads and turning off lights when not in use. These minor adjustments can make big differences. Additionally, energy-efficient appliances not only reduces energy consumption but can also lead to savings on your electric bill!


Start a garden: Growing your own food offers numerous benefits beyond just providing fresh produce. Not only do you gain a deeper appreciation for the food you eat, but gardening has also been shown to reduce stress. 



The bottom line: Adopting these practices can help you make healthy food choices, explore sustainable transportation, minimize waste and create a greener home that benefits both your well-being and environmental health. It’s about understanding how to support the Earth and yourself to ensure a healthy environment for all. Start making small changes today for a more sustainable future.