Health and Balance: Guide to Cleaner Living

January 2020

Melinda Ratini, DO


Choose Local Foods
The fewer steps between your table and the farm where your food grows, the fewer chances it has to get “dirty” with contaminants or processing. It also means you’ll get fresher — and more nutrient-dense — fare, too.

Clean Your Skin Care Routine
Your skin provides a short route into your body. Skip products with fragrances, additives, or preservatives such as parabens. Ask your dermatologist or doctor about ingredients you don’t know on your lotions and makeup bottles, so you can make the cleanest choice possible.

Pack In the Plant-Based Foods
A clean eating diet starts with a focus on veggies, fruits, and whole grains. Round this out with healthy proteins such as low-fat dairy, lean meats, fish, beans, legumes, nuts, and seeds.

Look at Labels
Extras in your foods’ ingredients like dyes, preservatives, additives, added sugar, and sodium do little for your health. And in some cases, they may be harmful. Whole, unprocessed foods are safest. A good rule of thumb: The fewer ingredients, the cleaner.

Don’t Overheat Certain Oils
Oils with high levels of polyunsaturated fats, like corn, soybean, sunflower, and safflower oils, oxidize under high heat. That means they break down and release free radicals, charged molecules that can damage cells and lead to disease.

Check Your Cookware
Nonstick cookware may make cleanup after cooking easier, but it can come with a cost. Ongoing studies show that some kinds of polymer coating used in nonstick pans can be mildly toxic when heated.

Be Picky About Packaging
BPA-free plastic is OK for storing food and drinks, but keep it cool. Never reheat leftovers in plastic. Your best bet for toxic-free, earth-friendly food storage is glass, ceramic, or stainless steel.

Head Off Hazardous Waste
Any time you’re tossing old paint, solvents, outdated electronics, or any kind of trash that could be environmentally unhealthy, be smart about the sendoff. Read packaging carefully for disposal instructions. Check to see if there are special recycling centers in your area. Better yet, get creative about ways to avoid buying hazardous materials in the first place.

Green Your Cleaning
Even cleaners with a “green” or “natural” label can have no-good ingredients that can harm health. Do a cleaning supply inventory — could you replace chemical cleaners with pantry staples like vinegar, baking soda, or good old warm water?

Be a Savvy Meat Shopper
Clean eating typically means dining on less red meat. If you do put meat on the menu, choose wisely. “Grass-fed” is good, but “grass-finished” is better — it means the animal was fed grass their whole life. “Organic” means you’re avoiding hormones and antibiotics. And look for a third-party certification that your meat was raised humanely and organically.