A healthy personal hygiene regimen is essential to good health. By keeping your inner and outer environment clean, you give yourself an optimal chance of avoiding both infections by pathogens, and chronic illness. Good hygiene also helps you to both look and feel your best.
Everyone knows that taking showers, washing our hair and brushing our teeth is important, however, there are other things you can do to make sure your hygiene routine is in tip-top shape.
The following are our five essential guidelines:
Eat (and drink) clean
The first step towards healthy hygiene is to focus on your inner environment, which greatly affects how you look (and smell) on the outside. No matter how clean you keep the outside of your body, if you don’t eat right, you will likely sweat more than usual, have oily or over-dry skin, as well as potentially embarrassing digestive issues.
For this reason, cutting out processed foods is absolutely key. Not only do the sugars, refined grains and chemicals in these foods often lead to acne and other skin problems, they also junk up your digestive system, and promote system-wide inflammation, which can lead to a host of chronic diseases.
Refined sugar can lead to yeast overgrowth in the body, which can lead to unpleasant bodily smells. The trans fats and other oils found in processed foods may also promote nasty body odors, and drinking soda, as many of us well know, can lead to an awful gas situation, as well as greatly deplete our health in a plethora of ways.
Instead, dine on whole, natural foods, including plenty of fiber and antioxidant-rich fruits and veggies, which naturally support the body’s detoxification processes. Drink plenty of pure, distilled water, and avoid sodas and sugary beverages. Check out our recent article on specific foods which may help to combat a variety of body odors.
Switch to natural personal care
Many of us use a wide array of deodorants, lotions, creams and astringents in our daily hygiene routines. However, many of the chemicals contained in these products could actually be aggravating or drying out your skin, clogging your pores, or worse.
There are over 80,000 different ingredients used in personal care products in the US, many of which are industrial chemicals. Some of these chemicals have been found to have carcinogenic properties, and others may function as hormone disruptors or reproductive toxins.
What’s even more frightening is that less than 20 percent of these chemicals have been tested for human safety – as the FDA does not strictly regulate the chemicals found in personal care products, or even require them all to be listed.
Your best choice for personal hygiene products is to make your own natural soaps, deodorant and other everyday products. Many of these are extraordinarily simple to make, and only require a few ingredients. Alternately, you could purchase organic personal care products from a local vendor that you trust.
Oil pulling, an ancient Ayurvedic method of swishing oil around in your mouth, can provide a remarkable boost to your oral hygiene routine, and also aid in the detoxification of your entire body. It accomplishes this by stimulating your lymphatic system to eliminate toxins.
Just a few of the benefits of oil pulling with a high-quality, organic oil include aiding in the prevention of cavities, gum disease, plaque and halitosis, strengthening your teeth and gums, relieving sinus congestion, reducing inflammation, supporting kidney function, and potentially clearing up eczema symptoms.
We recommend oil pulling with organic, extra-virgin coconut oil, due to its antibacterial, antiviral, antifungal, anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties.
The best time to oil pull is first thing in the morning, before breakfast. Use one tablespoon of organic, extra-virgin coconut oil (you can start with ½ teaspoon if you want to ease into it). Swish the oil around all parts of your mouth for at least 10 minutes, working up to 20 – do not swallow the oil. When you’re done, spit, rinse your mouth with distilled water, and brush your teeth.
When you first start oil pulling, you may feel slightly ill during or after the process. This is because your body is detoxing. The effect should diminish over time if you stick with it.
Dry brushing your skin is a great way to remove dead skin cells, unclog pores and stimulate the detoxification of your lymphatic system, allowing your body to release built-up toxins. Clogged pores and a buildup of dead skin can, as we all know, lead to acne, as well as other skin conditions.
The dry brushing process can encourage the regeneration of cells, improve circulation, give your skin a tighter, more radiant, toned appearance, and may even help to smooth cellulite.
To dry brush, obtain a natural bristled brush or loofah, and massage your body (everywhere but your face) for 3 to 5 minutes. Do not use synthetic bristles, as they may scratch your skin.
Pass over every part of your body just once with the brush, using long, gentle-yet-firm strokes, preferably in one direction, from the outside of your body inwards, to mimic natural blood flow.
On areas of your body where your skin is thicker, such as your feet, you can brush a bit harder to stimulate nerve endings. A great time to dry-brush is just before you shower, so you can wash away all the loosened dead skin cells.
While good hygiene is crucial, many people, especially in our germ-fearing culture, tend to wash too often. When we constantly wash our hands, or shower multiple times per day, we may actually be doing damage to both our skin and our immune systems.
Washing too often, especially in hot water, zaps our skin of its natural protective oils, and can leave it dry, or even cracked. Additionally, we all need some exposure to dirt and allergens, so that our immune systems are able to build a tolerance to these substances and learn how to protect us from them.
Several studies have shown that children who come from “too-clean” households have higher instances of asthma and allergies than those who were exposed to common household bacteria and allergens. Some research has also shown that even adults may be able to build up their immunity to certain microorganisms through gradual exposure.
So, keep your hygiene in check, but make sure to play in the dirt once in a while, too!