Category Archives: Positive life

Houseplants, Air Quality, and You

IrisesIt’s houseplant appreciation day! I did not know this, until fellow blogger This Veggie Life mentioned it (https://thisveggielife.blog/2018/01/10/houseplant-appreciation-day/). Evidently I am not the only one who loves to have plants around!

So take a moment to water your plants. Repot them if they are getting a little root bound – or buy yourself a new plant for your desk or your home. Here’s my confession – I am more of a light green thumb than a true green thumb. But, I’m working on it. My goal this year is to keep more plants alive than I let go through neglect or any of the many errors we all make with watering, light, and so on. Actually, I’d love to be able to pull of a jungalow style! (look it up on Pinterest – it’s a thing!)

I don’t know about you, but when I walk into a space full of lush green plants, I just feel like a breathe easier. Science says that we actually do breathe more easily when we have plants indoors.

A team of researchers in Portugal wanted to find out if this effect works for schools as well. After nine weeks of looking at the air quality of school rooms with six hanging potted plants compared to rooms without plants, as well as outdoor air. The rooms that contained plants had a higher indoor air quality – lower levels of volatile organic compounds (VOCs), lower levels of carbon dioxide, and even lower levels of particulate matter in the air! The research appeared in the Journal of Toxicology and Environmental Health in 2012 (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23095155).

NASA has established that there are certain plants that do the best job of improving indoor air quality. Researchers there started looking at the question because if humans are going to live in space, we are probably going to be living in enclosed areas. The NASA teams wanted to know which plants would be most useful in that kind of environment. The answer is a list of plants that you can find easily, including golden pothos, English ivy, Peace lily, potted mums, and gerbera daisies. You can find the study results here:  https://ntrs.nasa.gov/archive/nasa/casi.ntrs.nasa.gov/19930073077.pdf On the whole, the plants improved the air in numerous ways, including removing benzene and formaldehyde from the air.

People are happier and more creative when they have plants in their workspace. I imagine this is true for children, too, although no study has been done to find out. One of the big challenges of course – as any indoor gardener knows – is keeping the plants alive and healthy looking. So, that is a little extra “work” but the pay off in terms of improved air quality and improved mood could be worth it!

Alright, so, I have a personal commitment to buy at least one new houseplant every other month. (On the in between months, I am focusing on lighting!) And I have to say that one of the sites that I am finding most inspiring this year about plants is http://www.succulentsandsunshine.com

Plants waiting potting

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Live Long and Prosper

The other day a freelance colleague asked me, “What have you learned about health from being a health writer?” The answer is – I’ve learned a lot, actually. Here’s a brief summary:

1. Just about every health situation could be improved with appropriate regular exercise and eating healthy, fresh, whole foods. And drinking lots of water, and getting good sleep.

2. Death is inevitable. That seems rather naïve to say, but I’m saying it because it seems to me that we all spend a lot of time trying to fight this fact. Don’t spend so much time fighting death that you are living a miserable, constrained life. Relax a bit. It’s ok.

3. Things we can’t quantify really do matter. Your faith practices, your friendships, your attitude to life, the things that bring you pleasure, what goes on in your mind when you have a quiet moment, those things affect your health and your wellbeing, but it’s unlikely that any study will ever accurately describe how.

I could go on about this. And in fact, I will. But for now I’d just like to highlight an article I wrote about one of my favorite people, a cardiologist in New Orleans who is also a Beefmaster and a true character: http://www.everydayhealth.com/senior-health/super-senior-health-cardiologist-and-cowboy-at-ninety.aspx

 

Pondering Positivity

One of the complaints that I hear most frequently from medical experts for whom I have done public/media relations is echoed by medical experts I interview: the media is all sensational, doom and gloom. Now, the whys and wherefores of that are probably for another post (or another blog entirely) and I’ve given classes and presentations on how to work well with the media to control the interview, so what I want to say here is that when I write, I really like to write about positive living. Yes, there are health problems that are very serious and people struggle with them. And, yes, there are choices we all can make to be healthier or not-so-healthy. But I really like to cover topics that make it possible for people in just about any situation to choose a healthier, happier way of being alive in this world. And as a result, I try to seek out the kind of news that lets people know that the most basic pleasures in life, such as socializing, laughing, music, being outdoors, and so on have an actual prescriptive value. How would you like it if your doctor handed you a prescription to join a drum circle? Or laugh more? Or go on a hike with friends? Here’s an oldie but a goodie – a story I loved to work on and sometimes reread just to remind myself it’s all good: http://www.everydayhealth.com/womens-health/health-benefits-of-laughter.aspx