The COP26 summit in Glasgow is not long passed, with the effects of climate change fresh in our minds.
Studies have shown that on average, we are exposed to over 180 harmful toxins every single day.
Unfortunately, this exposure can contribute to health complications from depression to respiratory diseases as well as skin conditions.
Three leading experts have revealed the four ways pollution can impact our health, as well as ways that we can all safeguard our bodies.
1. Anxiety and Depression
Studies show that air pollutants may induce inflammation and oxidative stress in the brain, which may lead to mental health disorders such as depression, anxiety.
In some extreme cases, this could even lead to schizophrenia.
Dr Martin Kinsella, Hormone Expert and Founder of BioID Health explained: “Our hormones play a vital role in our bodies, and control a variety of important functions, including growth, reproduction and mood.
“When pollutants enter the body, studies have shown that they may impact the endocrine system that is responsible for managing hormones.
Commonly referred to as endocrine disruptors, they may have the ability to bind to specific hormones, interfere with hormone signalling patterns and impact hormone production.”
He added: When your hormones are thrown off balance, you may not receive the right amount of serotonin, which in turn may lead to symptoms of anxiety and depression.”
If you notice a sudden change in your emotional state, it could be a sign that you need your hormones checked. There are a number of treatment plans that help you rebalance.
2. Skin Conditions including Psoriasis
Whilst skin conditions could be down to genetics, it could also be due to pollution.
Pollutants that penetrate the skin, throw the microbiome out of balance and significantly disrupt our natural moisture barrier.
Eventually, this will lead to an increased breakdown of collagen which may cause dry skin and contribute to skin conditions such as Eczema and Psoriasis.
Increased dryness caused by pollution could also result in skin ageing up to ten times faster.
John Culbert, leading skin expert from Cambridge Stratum said: “Some pollutants sit on the skin’s surface causing dirt and debris to gather on the epidermis, others are microscopic, measuring less than 2.5 microns; and it is these particles that cause the problem.
“These tiny particles, often invisible to the naked eye, can penetrate the deeper layers of skin and cause damage to natural proteins.
“This unfortunately may impact collagen production and cause it to break down at a faster rate, which may result in dryness and even flare ups of skin conditions, like Eczema.”
Lou Sommereux, Clinical Director at Cosmex Clinic, a leading skin rejuvenation clinic in Cambridge adds: “If you suffer from a specific skin condition, speak to a GP who will help you determine any specific treatment that may be needed.”
An evening skin regime including cleansing, using creams and ointments and avoiding harsh chemicals and fragrances can help.
Including hyaluronic acid in you routine can help with mild to moderate eczema, according toMel Gravel Barnes, UK skincare lead for Universkin and Croma Pharma.
3. Appetite Disruption and Weight Gain
Air pollution could lead to a 13.6 per cent increase in body mass index with certain pollutants in the air able to impact your metabolic function.
Dr Charlotte Norton, Medical Director at The Slimming Clinic explains that air pollution can interfere with the body’s ability to respond to insulin, which could cause you to overeat.
“Pollutants smaller than 0.1 microns can impact your metabolic function and affect the way in which the body responds to insulin levels. It may also disrupt the hormones that govern your appetite, which could lead to you feeling hungry.
Rather than reaching for sugary snacks, or another meal – you should try sipping some water.
Not only does water help to flush out toxins, it helps to keep the stomach full.”
Adding things like berries, beans, broccoli and avocados to your diet could also help as these foods are high in fibre and help you feel fuller for longer throughout the day.
4. Respiratory Diseases such as Asthma
Research has shown that high levels of pollution can lead to asthma in both children and adults.
Smaller pollution particles from car exhausts, wood burning fires and smoke can irritate the airways and penetrate the lungs.
This may trigger asthma symptoms, including shortness of breath, wheezing and even asthma attacks.
In fact, around two thirds of asthma sufferers find their symptoms worse when air quality is poor.
Avoiding areas of high pollution – such as busy centres – as well as keeping an inhaler at hand can help.
Air quality can also be affected by weather with unsettled, windy or blustery weather usually keeping pollution levels low in most cases.
Humid, dry, or hot weather can make asthma worse, especially if you suffer from pollen allergies.
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