The 40 Biggest Strides
Photography by: Jonathan Skow
21 We realize how crucial it is to detox First, let’s be honest: A lot of the practices that took off within the last 40 years (like the widespread use of pesticides and our increased reliance on prescription medications) are the reasons we need to detox at all. But if there’s a bright side, it’s that at least now we’re conscious of how toxic we’ve become—and have access to a remarkable number of resources to show us how to cleanse our bodies from the inside out. Two of our favorites: Kris Carr’s Crazy Sexy Diet (skirt!) and Alejandro Junger’s Clean (HarperOne). Both are safe, manageable and effective plans that can truly transform how you look and feel.
22 Our tans are fading Thanks to the campaigns to combat rising rates of skin cancer, it’s rare to see someone slathered in baby oil on the beach. Instead, we’re applying sunblock with an SPF 15 or higher and spraying eco-friendly self-tanners when we want that sun-kissed look.
23 Vets embrace alternative healing In many areas, it still isn’t easy to find a veterinarian who combines traditional medicine with alternative therapies such as acupuncture, chiropractic medicine, reiki, herbal treatments or aromatherapy. But the field is emerging: American Holistic Veterinary Medical Association membership has grown from about 35 vets in 1982 to more than 1,000 members today.
24 We’re getting comfy on the (therapist’s) couch Not so long ago, seeing a psychotherapist was something to hide—taboo to talk about with even the people closest to you. Now, starting a sentence with, “My therapist says …,” is common happy-hour banter. And that’s a great thing, considering the emerging research about how our emotional lives are so intricately tied to our health and well-being. “Getting a handle on your emotions and learning elegant ways to name them, claim them and express them is probably the most important thing you can ever do for your health,” says Christiane Northrup, M.D., an integrative physician in Yarmouth, Maine. Good thing we’re no longer too shy to see a shrink to help us do just that.
25 We start to talk about internal inflammation Inflammation in the body is part of its genius master plan to keep us healthy: It’s a protective attempt to remove harmful stimuli and initiate healing. Problem is, our bad eating habits, ceaseless high-stress levels and continuous exposure to toxins prompt our bodies to engage this healing response all the time—and researchers now know that this nonstop state of internal inflammation is the root cause of almost every chronic illness. The steps to reducing inflammation are straightforward: Eat a mostly plant-based diet, keep stress under control and detox regularly by drinking plenty of water. A daily omega-3 supplement has also been shown to decrease inflammation in the body.
26 Standout companies help consumers give back It’s easier than ever to support businesses that are sharing their wealth. TOM’s shoes are colorful and comfy, and each time you buy a pair, another pair goes to a child in need. Newman’s Own donates all profits from its food sales to thousands of charities here and abroad. All it takes is a little sleuthing to put your dollars where your values are.
27 Multivitamins don’t steal all the spotlight Sure, your daily multi still has its place in your morning routine—but researchers have discovered other supplements that can go a long way toward improving your health. The five that integrative doctors, dietitians and herbalists all recommend:
PROBIOTICS to keep your digestive and immune systems rockin’
OMEGA-3s to reduce inflammation, ward off depression and improve skin, eye, joint, heart and brain health
VITAMIN D to lower your risk of cancer and cardiovascular disease and support healthy brain function and bone health MAGNESIUM to help keep blood pressure normal, heart rhythm steady and bones strong
ADAPTOGENIC HERBS (such as ginseng and holy basil) to restore energy and stabilize the release of cortisol, the body’s “stress hormone”
28 We learn to “eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants.” In his 2007 foodie manifesto The Omnivore’s Dilemma: A Natural History of Four Meals (Penguin), author Michael Pollan dug deep into the food chain to uncover where our food comes from and its (mostly negative) impact on the Earth and our health. His 2009 follow-up In Defense of Food (Penguin) revealed the American diet to be excessive and lacking in substance. Its simple directive—“Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants.”—has become a mantra for conscious carnivores, vegetarians and vegans alike, and reminds us that it’s easy to eat healthy.
29 Breast cancer awareness saves millions of lives Women first began talking about breast cancer in the 1930s and ’40s, but it wasn’t until some U.S. first ladies were diagnosed with the disease (Betty Ford in the mid-1970s and Nancy Reagan in the late 1980s) that we saw a remarkable increase in mammograms, says Christy Russell, M.D., a spokeswoman for the American Cancer Society. The breast cancer campaigns of the 1980s and ’90s helped spread the message about early detection even more. “National Breast Cancer Awareness Month, pink ribbons, the walks sponsored by the Susan G. Komen Foundation—all of these have resulted in more women having breast cancer diagnosed earlier, treating it and surviving,” says Russell.
30 Alternative energy takes off Sure, solar power has been around forever, but now it’s easier (and cheaper) than ever to give your home an energy makeover. You can even take solar power on the go with portable chargers for phones, iPods and laptops. Wind farms are booming as well—right now they create enough renewable energy to power 1.6 million homes, with the growth potential to power 25 million by 2020.