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Reducing exposure to toxic chemicals is just as important as toxic people, says Dr. Jennifer Simmons. The former chief of breast surgery and director of the breast health program at Einstein Medical Center Montgomery, Simmons recently segued into functional medicine and opened a new practice called Real Health. Now based in King of Prussia, Real Health will start 2020 at its permanent home in Bala Cynwyd, offering traditional Western medical care along with holistic treatments like acupuncture.
A lot of Simmons’ work now focuses on preventative care. She believes the key to good health is embracing the “magic six”: good sleep, proper nutrition, exercise, social connections, stress management and reduced exposure to toxins. “If you have the right combination in that magic six, your hormones are balanced, you don’t have inflammation and you lower risk factors for a lot of diseases,” Simmons says.
While most have difficulty with each of the six components, women typically struggle most with reducing their exposure to toxins. “The average woman puts 150 chemicals on her skin before she leaves the house in the morning,” says Simmons.
Toothpaste and body lotions both have ingredients to prevent the development of bacteria, but they can have estrogen-like effects on the body. Inventory what’s in your cabinets, read the labels and investigate ingredients. Buy natural products or create your own. “There are so many places where you can cut back on your chemicals,” says Simmons. “Every little bit helps.”
Women also struggle with nutrition. “The standard American diet is primarily responsible for our nation’s current state of health,” Simmons says.
In addition to reducing chemicals in our food, we should rethink our diets. “Some people need more or less protein, more or less fat. But colorful non-starchy vegetables should be everyone’s base,” she says. “There’s no diet that’s beneficial when the base of it is carbohydrates with starches.”
Start with small changes. “Eat better, feel better,” says Simmons. “You’ll see a difference quickly.”