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9 Simple Things To Improve the Planet's Health & You

Here are 9 things you can do to make the biggest impact for our planet:

  1. Drastically cut down to avoid red meat and dairy products. This will immediately translate to a dramatic decrease in greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, a top national and global public health priority given all the disasters we faced in 2020 (including the pandemic). Please also don’t replace red meat with poultry and fish since it is no better in regards to lessening GHG emissions (forget about the havoc caused on a person’s kidneys and GI tract from animal protein when consumed on a regular basis over a period of ten to twenty years. 
  1. Buy fresh regenerative organic produce free of synthetic fertilizers or pesticides. You may have heard that organic produce isn’t always the best option, from a global climate perspective, because organic farms usually need more land than conventional agricultural farms. Furthermore, the USDA Organic Label on its own offers no information about the food’s actual carbon footprint. This is an important consideration since organic farms’ climate impact varies widely from region to region. Regardless, we now know that pesticide residues stay on fruit and vegetables, and so, if you can’t buy organic, try to wash your produce extensively with i.e., apple cider vinegar and/or water before consuming. At SF Advanced Health, we routinely check for industrial chemical exposures such as the lethal pesticide RoundUp in our patients along with many other toxins and mold exposure predominantly from food exposure. 

Bottom line: Buy regenerative organic whenever you can. Support your local farmer’s markets since the quality of their produce is usually significantly better than anything you could get at a big chain supermarket. That said...

  1. Buy local and eat seasonally. Again, what you eat matters much more than where it comes from since food needing to be transported over long distances carry a heft carbon footprint. 

Try to also eat primarily the produce grown in the season where you live. Out-of-season produce, for the most part, often doesn’t make sense. It is not nutrient-dense, can often be tasteless, and/or cause us to overeat because of delayed feeling of satiation. At no point in history were our ancestors over a century ago able to eat whatever they wanted whenever they wanted. They  had to abide by mother nature’s rules, the supreme dictator. 

During winter months for example, avoiding having produce such as asparagus and blackberries which must be moved quickly by plane before risking becoming imperishable. Instead, have citrus fruits during the winter when they are commonly grown and avoid having fruits such as apples, oranges, and bananas which must be shipped from far distances by sea. The longer produce must travel and less “fuel-efficient” the transportation modality, the greater the total carbon footprint consuming these out-of-season foods are. 

Unless your canning, fermenting, or freezing produce you got in the summer, it doesn’t make sense to constantly purchase produce that’s out of season. Following this simple rule can change the whole food agricultural system and dramatically help improve your overall health. 

Interestingly, there are some circumstances where it may be advantageous to purchase food that’s shipped in from another part of the country. If you live in the northern United States during the winter, for example, it can be better to buy a tomato trucked in from California or Florida than to buy a local variety that was grown in an energy-intensive heated greenhouse.

  1. Reduce, reuse, recycle. This may sound simple, but look at the order ... reducing waste is of utmost importance since not everything we recycle actually makes it to the recycling facilities. A large percentage of what we believe is being recycled is actually going straight into landfills and our oceans.  

Did you know it takes less energy to manufacture a recycled product than a brand new one? By shifting to purchasing recycled products which often are considerably cheaper than non-cycled ones, you and every other consumer on the planet could make a dramatic difference in cutting back on waste and, in turn, the long term quality of so many of our future children otherwise plagued with landfills and garbage-filled oceans taking more land mass than available for humans.

Unfortunately, in the era of COVID-19, we are creating more waste than ever with single use items, fearful of catching the virus. This means many of us cannot use our reusable coffee mugs and other food containers when shopping. My advice is please think twice before making a purchase to see if the product and/or its packaging can be recycled. 

  1. Invest in green energy (our future). Imagine that eventually we are definitely going to run out of fossil fuel, especially because the irresponsible way our world is literally burning through gasoline like we have an indefinite supply.  Nuclear power and natural gas are ostensible "green" options: Radioactive waste will be a problem for tens of thousands of years into the future, maybe longer, and natural gas produces almost as much carbon dioxide as coal and oil (it just looks “cleaner”). Natural gas can only ever serve as a transitory powersource, but it isn't the solution.

When we choose to become better equipped at deriving our electricity from renewable sources such as solar panels, wind power, and geothermal sources, we are creating an enormous dent in decreasing the  long-term consequences of GHG emissions. Consider investing in green companies, green stocks and renewable energy companies through socially responsible funds. 

  1. Commute differently when you can. Cars emit as much carbon dioxide as an entire house. Hence, anything to improve the fuel efficiency of your car will have an enormous impact on climate change. Gas-guzzling vehicles are heating up our planet. 

Pay attention to the fuel efficiency of your vehicle so that you can gauge how to possibly decrease your own carbon footprint by taking proactive measures to drive only when you have to and/or choose to utilize a more fuel-efficient car. Telecommuting, car pooling and utilization of public transportation can also be great options. If you ever have the option of walking and/or biking to your destination, that’s even better.

Due to the pandemic, a lot of us are driving less which have directly correlated with a dramatic drop in pollution levels across the globe. When you are hitting the road now, keep these following tips in mind:

  1. Get your car tuned up. This improves fuel efficiency by half. It’s estimated that if 100,000 cars were tuned up, it would save 124,000 tons of carbon dioxide.
  2. Slow down, Idle less. Try not to race your car's engine or leave your car on when you’re checking your text messages? This will decrease the amount of gasoline you burn.
  3. Pile multiple errands into one trip. This will save you time and money and decrease your carbon footprint.

 

  1. Plant plants. Planting a baby tree into the ground can be deeply satisfying for many of us. Planting more trees will help (in the short term) because trees are essential for soaking up carbon dioxide from the air. They also serve as windbreaks to save energy, create giant shade structures to lower cooling costs, and act as a barrier to increasing tides since trees bounce water back to the ocean during earthquakes. Generally speaking, choose hardier plants and water your lawn sparingly. All of these efforts will conserve energy, help clean the air and combat climate change.
  2. Volunteer. There are endless ways to volunteer for cleanups in our community. One of them is Friends of the Forest in San Francisco, an organization that has planted tens of thousands of trees. They often need help planting the very trees that provide food and oxygen. Getting involved in protecting your watershed can also be extremely helpful. 
  3. Consider adopting minimalistic practices. As alluded to earlier, in today's consumer-driven economy, the easiest way to conserve energy is to simply use—and buy—less. Try to purchase only what you truly need. 

For example, try to buy in bulk whenever possible since it requires less packaging, which translates into less energy extracted from the planet. And buy only one of something of high quality (not 21 of something). For example, why get 21 pairs of shoes that fall apart quickly if one pair works just as well (and will last you for many years)? High quality products last a long time. You'll buy fewer products in the future that way.

Shop at thrift shops. You can be both trendy and see what is the latest clothing fashion without spending an arm and leg. Just know that often times many of the items donated at thrift shops have never been worn.

If you’re feeling the need to de-clutter, go through your closet. Donate or recycle what you really don't need or never use, then make a pledge not to replace everything you just got rid of to fill up the space again.

Finally, be creative in what you use for work, play and fun in your leisure time. You don't always have to buy new products for activities. We have more than enough goods to go around for centuries. Re-use in creative ways. There’s no wrong way to do it.

Think about it this way: Every time you buy something, energy has gone into both creating and getting that product to you. Hence, the less you buy, the more you “save” energy-wise. Shifting to increased simplicity can almost always translate to feeling happier, healthier, and richer in the long run. 

Buying less fundamentally changes the energy equation across the board, on every single consumer product. If more and more people began to use only what they truly needed and adopted the philosophy Less is More, the impact would be substantial. 



Dr. Bhandari and the Advanced Health Team Are Here to Support Your Health.

Our expert team of integrative holistic practitioners work with patients suffering from chronic health concerns.  We help our patients reverse disease by better understanding how the body optimally functions and providing personalized treatment plans—a plan that removes a lot of the common food items that are making them sick.  To learn more and book an appointment, contact Advanced Health or call 1-415-506-9393.

Author
Payal Bhandari M.D. Dr. Payal Bhandari M.D. Dr. Payal Bhandari M.D. is one of U.S.'s top leading integrative functional medical physicians and the founder of San Francisco' top ranked medical center, SF Advanced Health. Her well-experienced holistic healthcare team collaborates together to deliver whole-person personalized care and combines the best in Western and Eastern medicine. By being an expert of cell function, Dr. Bhandari defines the root cause of illness and is able to subside any disease within weeks to months. She specializes in cancer prevention and reversal, digestive & autoimmune disorders. Dr. Bhandari received her Bachelor of Arts degree in biology in 1997 and Doctor of Medicine degree in 2001 from West Virginia University. She the completed her Family Medicine residency in 2004 from the University of Massachusetts and joined a family medicine practice in 2005 which was eventually nationally recognized as San Francisco’s 1st patient-centered medical home. To learn more, go to www.sfadvancedhealth.com.

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