How your environment shapes your health
By Penelope A. Domogo, MD
If you have been reading this column, you will know by now that the diseases of today are caused mainly by our present lifestyle. Changing lifestyle is much easier said than done.
Thus we need to dissect this issue to see where we can start the changes. Earlier, we discussed how the home environment affects one’s lifestyle – the design of the house, the gadgets in the house, the amenities within the house. So be careful with what you put in your house.
The building and furniture and gadgets are only part of your home environment. A crucial part of this immediate environment are the people in the house. If Mom and Dad sit and watch TV while eating, chances are the children will do the same. If Mom and Dad wake the kids early and assign them regular chores, chances are they will also be early risers and lead more active lives. Parents , lolas and lolos and other caregivers and siblings or no siblings will impact a lot on the future lifestyle of the children. So again, adults need to be careful with their lifestyles as the young are great imitators.
But wait! There are many other people in the house which we unconsciously invite daily…. when we switch on the TV or internet or media player. Or when we bring in books and newspapers and magazines. I am especially concerned about TV because these are switched on a lot of hours everyday so much so that the characters of “Forevermore” and other long-running telenovelas and those noontime shows become virtual members of the household. Why we even know their names (and we name our children after them), we develop deep feelings for bida or the contrabida and we even know their love story more than we know our son’s love affair. There shouldn’t be a problem if these shows were wholesome. Child development experts reviewed what is shown on TV and found nearly none is recommended for kids. As one child expert said, we make much effort to secure doors and windows of our homes to prevent unwanted people from coming in but we forget the TV. It is an unprotected window where all sorts of characters, usually bad, come in the house. Take a close look at the behavior of your daily guests – they curse, they are violent, womanize/manize and do things people should not be doing. What models are they showing to your children and apos? Again, these people are in your home environment because you choose to invite them in when you switched on the TV. And I didn’t mention the advertisements which are just out to convince you and your child to part with your money.
What else do we have in the house? There are cell phones – instead of walking to ask something from your friend 100 meters away, you just text or call. Oh, what we do to make our lives immobile. And we call this gadget a mobile phone. It’s encouraging to see some people have continued to live full lives without the cell phone or they treat their cell phone like a landline. They leave their phones at home. Aside from what TV and cellphones do to immobilize our lives and influence our behavior, there is the issue of radiation. The more electronic gadgets you have in the house, the more radiation around you.
Now we go to the most important part of the house – the kitchen. I love the kitchen. One acquaintance keeps her kitchen sacred that it is off limits to guests. What is stocked in your kitchen? Vegetables or canned foods? Instant noodles or unpolished rice? Sugar and milk? Vetsin-laden additives like packed flavoring/mixes, bottled sauces, cubes. Read the labels and you will see that almost all these contain MSG (monosodium glutamate). You have a refrigerator? If you recall, we discussed earlier the relationship of gallstones with the refrigerator. Your stock, of course, will determine your food on the table. And your food and eating is a major part of your lifestyle. If we want our children to eat healthy then we, the parents and caregivers, need to start the change process. Let us not use the children as an excuse to have hotdogs and eggs and sweets as our regular food.
Outside the house, what do you have? A garden? Pigs and chickens? Dogs? Or the neighbor’s house just 1 foot away. Or a solar dryer aka cemented pavement. One time, I pitied a dog who must have wanted to dig soil but the ground was cemented everywhere. How much more for our children and our selves. We need to touch soil.
Again, what are the values of your neighbors? We know a common trait of people – envy. What your neighbor has, you also crave for it. Who are your friends and what do they stand for? If you want to quit smoking and excessive drinking, you need to hang out with friends who don’t smoke or can control their drinking. So you may have to change your friends or by God’s grace, your friends will care for you and quit smoking, too, to support your resolve to quit. If you want to be freed from your addiction to coke, then you need to hang out with me (smile).
Environment also means our “ili” or community. What are the values pervading in our community? Is there “inayan”? In Puerto Princesa where people value nature, they follow rules starting from childhood to adulthood. Children are taught at home and school not to just drop their waste like banana peelings anywhere. One restaurant worker told us that his school-age children come home with peelings in their pockets. If you don’t see garbage in your environment, you would be ashamed to litter. In Lucban, Quezon, where plastics are not allowed, then one is forced to bring their own market bags, saving the environment in many ways and reminding people to have healthy lifestyles. How about “og-ogbo” or “do unto others what you want others do unto you” rule? Do we uplift our kakailian when they want to change to a healthier lifestyle? Or do we scoff them off?
What a wonderful world it would be when we live in harmony with each other and with nature!***
“But we are not of those who shrink back and are destroyed, but of those who believe and are saved.” Hebrews 10:39