Most often when people think of living healthier lives, they focus on food and exercise. That’s a smart idea, as what we eat and drink, and how we keep ourselves fit, play important roles in overall wellness. But what we breathe, rub against and come in contact with in our homes can also have a significant effect on how we feel.

We spend a lot of time in our homes, apartments, condominiums or wherever we live, and so the environment inside can influence our well-being in a significant manner. And while entire books have been written on living a less toxic lifestyle, here are a few important tips that are easy to follow.

Water is essential to life, and our bodies are composed of more than 70 percent water. The quality and purity of water matter greatly And while water resources in the U.S. are generally sanitary, we also know that many sources of municipal drinking water can contain residues of pesticides, pharmaceuticals and industrial pollutants. To reduce or eliminate this kind of unwanted contamination, water filtration is your best bet. A home water filter will give you pure water at a fraction of the cost of bottled water, and without toxic residues from plastic bottles. There are many fine brands of water filters, from state of the art triple-stage filters (carbon block, silver oxide and thin membrane), to counter-top filters, like Britta, that also eliminate any unwanted compounds in water.

Cleaning products are high on the list of changeable items that can make an immediate difference in the safety of your home. Most commercial laundry detergents contain surfactants that can irritate skin and cause topical allergic reactions, as well as fragrances derived from petrochemicals that can contribute to respiratory problems in sensitive people. Natural brands of dish detergents, home cleaning agents and laundry detergents such as Ecover, Seventh Generation and others contain enzyme cleaning agents which are highly effective, in addition to natural surfactants, and typically no fragrance. If you have sensitive skin or respiratory sensitivities, these slightly more expensive products will make your home experience easier.

Fresh air is often neglected in the home. No matter where you live or who you are, unless you have smoke from an industrial facility blowing directly at your dwelling (in which case you are well advised to move), keep a window or two open if only a little bit. This will improve oxygen circulation, keep carbon dioxide low, reduce odors, and help to move out any gases from cooking or toxins from synthetic fabrics.

Speaking of fabrics, carpet fiber, which is largely plastic, is a source of significant gases that can irritate breathing and contribute to allergies. If you are going to carpet your home or use rugs, try wool, sisal, cotton, or other un-treated natural fabrics instead of commercial carpeting that may appear natural but isn’t.

Lastly, consider natural paints and coatings. No paint is good to breathe, but natural brands such as Livos will do an excellent job of covering walls and other surfaces without emitting dangerous petrochemical toxins. These products do cost more than popular brands, but how often do you paint your walls? They are smarter, healthier options.

Admittedly, there are hundreds of other decisions you can make and choices available to create a safer, healthier living environment. But checking off the recommendations above is a substantial start. Treat your home as an extension of your body. Keep it non-toxic, and you may discover that you feel better all around.

Chris Kilham is a medicine hunter who researches natural remedies all over the world, from the Amazon to Siberia. Chris advises herbal, cosmetic and pharmaceutical companies, is a regular guest on radio and TV programs worldwide, and is the author of fifteen books. Read more at MedicineHunter.com.