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Health 1Spring is upon us, and with it comes the annual ritual of spring cleaning. While it might not be the most exciting way to ‘celebrate’ blooming flowers and fresh starts, airing out the cupboards and sweeping away the dust bunnies has its benefits; it prevents allergies and keeps germs at bay – not to mention the exercise burns a few calories!

The current trend in cleaning, at the beginning of spring or otherwise, is the increasing use of ‘green’ products rather than chemical cleansers. This is because most chemical cleansers contain carcinogenic toxins, now proven to trigger ailments including allergic reactions, migraines and nausea. Examples of natural cleaning materials include micro-fibre window cloths that require only water to clean and don’t leave streaks. Then there are solutions consisting of lemon and water for cleaning windows, baking soda for wooden furniture, and borax powder (contains a natural anti-microbial agent) for getting rid of moulds.

Do keep in mind that health experts strongly recommend wearing rubber gloves and a face mask when cleaning to ensure that fumes from the cleaning liquids (natural or otherwise), not to mention germs and bacteria, do not enter the body.

Recent research published in The American Sociological Review concludes that stress in our lives is linked to unhealthy diets and clutter. Clutter (in the form of endless stacks of paper, piled up laundry and overflowing drawers) along with a sedentary lifestyle and an unhealthy diet can cause headaches, insomnia, irritability and difficulty in concentrating. Health experts therefore recommend purging the home and office space of unnecessary items, cutting down on caffeine and processed food, increasing the intake of water, fresh juice, seasonal fruit and vegetables, and exercising regularly. These will give the body a spring cleaning of sorts.

So, turn on your favourite tunes, don your colourful sweats and get ready to spring clean!

– Ayesha Shaikh

First published in the Health Advertiser Section of The DAWN National Weekend Advertiser on April 13, 2014.