Statistics show that 1.25 million deaths are caused by road traffic accidents per year, 3.5 million are caused by diabetes, and 7 MILLION are the consequence of air pollution. (Reference, 21 Lessons for the 21st Century by Yuval Noah Harari.)
Environmental pollutants are a global health problem, associated with the development of many chronic diseases. Exposure to pollutants may increase our chances of serious illness, thanks to the effects of pollutants on the parts of our cells linked with inflammation, cardiac injury and oxidative damage.
There is a growing body of evidence based research to show that the food we eat can both positively and negatively influence the toxic effects of pollutants on our health. Recent studies suggest that nutrients like EGCG in green tea can protect against the inflammation caused by pollutants. Increasing our intake of antioxidants, such as vitamin E, and polyunsaturated fats, like Omega 3 oils, may help manage chronic conditions like asthma. This is especially important if you live in a high-risk area and eat a lot of processed foods.
For those of us who live and exercise in polluted cities, or eat fish products from polluted seas and rivers, specific nutrients to help combat this damage could have real benefits. ‘Personalised nutrition’ is on the horizon, and pollution exposure will soon form part of lifestyle assessments. You can start to personalise your own nutrition now by changing your diet to help fight the effects of pollution.