Thursday, 8 June 2017

Fight Back Against Air Pollution!

When you do "everything right" but still manage to develop a life-threatening chronic illness, the question is: why? Well, the truth is that we live in a toxic world, with over 80,000 different synthetic chemicals having been produced over the last 70 years. Of these, over 4 billion pounds (2 billion kilograms) are released into the world every year. Many are known carcinogens, and most have not been fully evaluated for their effects on human health, especially not in combination with each other. However, we do know now that air pollution alone is responsible for around 200,000 "premature" deaths in the USA alone each year. Greater exposure to air pollution is associated with higher mortality rates and a higher risk of cardiovascular and respiratory illnesses. New research also links air pollution to impaired glucose tolerance, and blood vessel damage in people as young as 23! "Oh, they're just starting to age" is merely an excuse.

The good news is that things are starting to improve. Renewable energy capacity is reaching record highs, in both new capacity and percentage of total capacity. Plummeting costs and increasing storage availability are contributing to clean energy becoming the new normal. But conversion to 100% clean energy will take years, most likely a few decades, so what can we do in the meantime? One set of nutrients that may protect against a particularly dangerous effect of air pollution - decreased heart rate variability - is the B vitamins. A study on the effects of folate, vitamin B6 and vitamin B12 found that people with lower intake of these showed reduced HR variability after exposure to higher levels of particulate matter, a nasty type of air pollution. A high daily intake of these vitamins prevented this effect. Another way to protect yourself against air pollution is vitamins C and E. Research on people who work at or live near coal power plants found that supplementation of 500mg of vitamin C and 800mg of vitamin E reversed the extra oxidative stress caused by their living or working conditions. Before supplementation, levels of free radicals were higher, antioxidant levels were lower, and their bodies' own antioxidant enzymes were working much harder to try to prevent damage.

Besides vitamins, fish and olive oil could also protect us against air pollution. Researchers studied elderly volunteers to determine if omega-3 fatty acids from fish oil could have an effect on the damage caused by particulate matter. They found that taking 2 grams of fish oil every day for 4 months was able to significantly raise their antioxidant defences - levels of superoxide dismutase rose by 49%, and glutathione rose by 62%. These are antioxidants that our bodies produce themselves. The rate of lipoperoxidation, which means oxidative damage to fatty tissue, fell by 72%. This could mean that the fish oil was protecting them against more than just the air pollution. In a study of people deliberately exposed to air pollutants, supplementation with olive oil was able to preserve their blood vessel function. In fact, it improved their blood and blood vessel functioning. Of course, the best way to prevent disease and deaths from air pollution is to not generate it in the first place, but this will take many years.

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