We have touched upon many aspects of health and wellness, but one of the most important ways we can take care of ourselves is by taking care of our environment. “Going Green” extends way beyond recycling! We need to pursue knowledge and practices that can lead to more environmentally friendly and ecologically responsible decisions and lifestyles. We sat down with Nelie Shah from Nelie’s Gone Green to discuss how what you eat, drink, use and breathe impacts your health and what we can do to live toxic-free.
Food + Mood NYC: Can you tell us how Nelie’s Gone Green came to be?
Nelie Shah: My mother survived breast cancer twice (at 45 and 78) and was always helping women who were going through treatment when I was growing up and encouraged me to do the same. I started volunteering at Memorial Sloan-Kettering in 2000 when I moved to NYC. When I was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2011, I learned how critical it is to be your own health advocate. I have been the primary caregiver and health advocate for my mother who now has late-stage Alzheimer’s as well as my stepfather. In 2017, I got environmental poisoning in a condo in Florida and my life literally flipped upside down. Over the last few years, it has become crystal clear to me how crucial your environment is to your health. Your environment includes not only the air you breathe but what you put on and in your body. It is more important than even your DNA. Nelie’s Gone Green is a curated resource to educate and empower people with information and tools to live their healthiest, best life!
F+M NYC: You teach your clients how what you eat, drink, use and breathe impacts your health. What are some of your top tips to guide us toward living a greener life?
NS: My top 5 would be the following:
Cleaning and personal care products: Take an inventory of the products you use in your home as well as your personal care products and throw out everything with the word “fragrance”. Sadly, this word is a trade secret in the US and contains hundreds of known carcinogens, endocrine disrupters, allergens and neurotoxins. I would highly encourage everyone to watch the documentary STINK on Netflix.
Plastic: Stop using plastic – use stainless steel or glass for drinking as well as food. Many chemicals in plastic leach into your food and beverages and can cause a variety of health problems.
Food: Eat organic or locally sourced whole foods as much as possible. The more plant-based the better!
Water: Invest in a good home water filtration system – clean water is key to good health. There are reasonably priced filters for under the counter as well as shower filters if you can’t put in a whole house system.
VOCs and Air Quality: I know many people are doing home improvements or renovating during Covid-19 but many construction products and furniture produce volatile organic compounds (VOCs) which become airborne and many are extremely detrimental to your health. You are most likely spending more time inside now so your air quality is critical. There are good products out there that are zero VOC but you have to do your research. This includes cabinetry, flooring, paint, carpet and even furniture and candles by the way!
F+M NYC: What improvements have your seen in your health as a result of this environmental shift?
NS: I started at a deficit after the condo experience in 2017, but I have significantly improved my microbiome and healed my leaky gut. I have increased energy and clarity of mind. My hair, skin and nail health has been restored to what it was prior to the environmental poisoning and continues to improve. Through my advocacy and work with clients, I feel a great sense of joy and personal satisfaction when I see the improvement in their health and overall well-being.
F+M NYC: You explain how these changes will improve your own health. How will these changes affect our environment?
NS: The lifestyle I promote is not only good for you but also good for the planet. VOCs play a significant role in the formation of ozone (smog) and global warming. Plastic is a huge problem in terms of polluting oceans, sea life and the global eco-system. By doing your own small part and helping yourself you are also helping the planet for future generations!
F+M NYC: Besides living a healthier, cleaner and greener life, how do you take care of yourself on and off the plate?
NS: I eat a primarily plant-based diet but I do eat fish and seafood, especially Wild Salmon, about 1-2 times a week. I have recently started to meditate 10 minutes each day. I promised myself when I had cancer that I would learn to meditate and even took a Transcendental Meditation (TM) class in 2016 but still didn’t really do it regularly. The Headspace app, however during Covid-19, has really been amazing! Movement is so important to one’s physical and brain health so I take long walks daily with my dog, Gigi. I have also started yoga a couple of times a week.
To learn more about Nelie’s Gone Green and how she can help you live a healthier, more balanced life, visit https://www.neliesgonegreen.com/.