Environmental design is a new approach to curating one’s surroundings in a way that are ecologically intelligent, sustainable, and healthy for both humans and our environment.
Environmental design is an often neglected, yet highly impactful piece of human optimization. I’d like to introduce you to the term exposome. The exposome is defined as the combination of every exposure to which an individual is subjected. This takes into account anything and everything that influences a living organism, ranging from environmental factors, ecological factors and even what’s called abiotic factors which include ambient temperature, amounts of sunlight or artificial light, air and water quality, etc.
Based on what we know about all of the external factors that can change how our genes are being expressed, it is imperative that we leverage environmental design to create optimal health outcomes.
The wavelengths of light that a light bulb emits can vary dramatically depending on the type of bulb. Consideration must be given to the time of day and spectrum of light that you are being exposed to. To put is simply, we evolved to be exposed to blue light during the day, red light in the evenings and no light at night. Blue light promotes wakefulness and if you are exposed to blue wavelengths at night, your body still thinks its daytime and will not produce the sleep promoting hormone melatonin. Light contains information that is interpreted by the body. Biological lighting strategies and lifestyle choices can help with this aspect of environmental design.
Digestion breaks down large compounds in food and liquids into smaller molecules that can be absorbed into the bloodstream.
Electromagnetism describes one of the four fundamental forces in nature. Electromagnetic fields that span the spectrum are all around us and moving through us. There is natural electromagnetic radiation emitted from all matter on earth, and from the sun and stars. Every cell in the human body has an electromagnetic field and all matter is affected by these fields in some way. Electricity generated today is distributed from power plants to our homes via an alternating current (AC) that pulses at 60 Hz in the United States. These non-native, man-made, EMFs likely pose a biological risk because they alter the way our tissues function. Electromagnetic frequencies are a form of subtle energy that directly interact with your biology at a cellular level.
Indoor air quality is the air quality within and around buildings and structures. It is known to affect the health, comfort, and well-being of building occupants. Poor indoor air quality has been linked to illness, reduced productivity, and impaired learning in schools. Often times, indoor air quality can be worse than outdoor air quality, even in an urban setting. This is largely due to the use of synthetic and carcinogenic building materials and consumer products. Breath is a powerful tool for connecting to the present moment. The quality of the air you breathe plays a huge role in your health.
One often overlooked aspect of environmental design is the incorporation of living vegetation or house plants into your home or office. Aside from being able to improve indoor air quality, there have actually been studies that validate other benefits as well. Students who studied with real, live plants in the classroom were more attentive and better able to concentrate than the control group. Researchers have used horticultural therapy to increase feelings of well-being among people with depression, anxiety, dementia, and other conditions. Being able to look at plants and flowers may actually speed your recovery from an illness, injury, or surgery. Communing with nature, both indoors and outside is a potent way to reestablish our connection with the greater ecosystem that we are integrally dependent upon.
We evolved with the diurnal, 24-hour, rhythm of nature. Typically, the temperate fluctuates from day to night. As such, we are meant to be exposed to dynamic and ever changing ambient temperatures. Many people spend most of their time in climate-controlled environments that are set to a static and comfortable temp. Cold exposure can actually increase your metabolic rate and support the health of your energy producing mitochondria, while heat exposure can help your body to release beneficial compounds like heat shock proteins and promote the survival of brain neurons. The ambient temperatures that you are exposed to directly influence your physiology and ability to adapt to different environments.
We are living in unprecedented times with regard to the number of synthetic chemicals, heavy metals and plastics that are present in our environment. Since 1950, at least 70,000 new chemical compounds have been invented and dispersed into our environment with only a fraction of these having been tested for human safety. Excessive toxin exposure can ultimately lead to the development of different disease states, cancer, cognitive impairment, mood swings as well as low energy levels and chronic fatigue. Living in the post-industrial world requires a certain level of vigilance to ensure that you are mitigating your exposure to toxic compounds.