Do you live in one of the world’s most air pol­luted cities?

The Miracle - - Immig / Envir - BY: W JIANG & Z WEIGUO

More than 90% of peo­ple world­wide have to breathe pol­luted air. Fos­sil fu­els are the pri­mary cause. The peo­ple most likely to suf­fer are those who live in crowded places where the shift to cleaner forms of trans­porta­tion and en­ergy has not hap­pened or is hap­pen­ing too slowly. This is par­tic­u­larly ev­i­dent in some ar­eas of Asia, where smog hangs over cities and seeps into the coun­try­side, and even into peo­ple’s homes. Air pol­lu­tion con­tains fine par­tic­u­late mat­ter that can en­ter the body and get into the lungs, caus­ing res­pi­ra­tory and car­dio­vas­cu­lar is­sues such as asthma at­tacks and ir­reg­u­lar heart­beat, in­creased ox­ida­tive stress and in­flam­ma­tion, and chronic dis­ease like di­a­betes and can­cer. In fact, air pol­lu­tion is re­spon­si­ble for more 7 mil­lion pre­ma­ture deaths world­wide, ac­cord­ing to the World Health Or­ga­ni­za­tion: the sin­gle largest en­vi­ron­men­tal health risk. The only vi­able long-term so­lu­tions are ac­cel­er­at­ing the tran­si­tion to a low fos­sil car­bon econ­omy and re­vers­ing cli­mate change. But what can peo­ple do in the mean­time to pro­tect their health? Eat salmon to ward off air pol­lu­tion Ac­cord­ing to re­cent stud­ies, your nu­tri­tional in­take might come to the res­cue. Re­searchers have found that good nu­tri­tion can fend off air-re­lated ill­ness and may even re­verse the neg­a­tive ef­fects of fine par­tic­u­late mat­ter. If you’re one of the bil­lions of peo­ple wait­ing for a breath of fresh air, that means you may want to up your vi­ta­min in­take. Pro­fes­sor Jinzhuo Zhao, from Fu­dan Uni­ver­sity School of Pub­lic Health, China, who stud­ies the im­pact of a par­tic­u­late mat­ter called PM 2.5 and ex­plores nu­tri­tional so­lu­tions, says: “The find­ings of a num­ber of hu­man stud­ies are en­cour­ag­ing and a good ba­sis for fur­ther work to de­ter­mine op­ti­mal com­bi­na­tions of nu­tri­ents to pre­vent or re­duce the im­pact of par­tic­u­late mat­ter on dif­fer­ent as­pects of health.” Some of the top nu­tri­ents thought to make a dif­fer­ence are long-chain polyun­sat­u­rated fatty acids like omega-3, as well as vi­ta­mins C and E. Oily fish like salmon is a great source of omega-3, which can re­duce the risk of car­dio­vas­cu­lar dis­ease and stroke. Vi­ta­mins C and E, which are found in many fruits and veg­eta­bles, nuts and veg­etable oil, are pow­er­ful an­tiox­i­dants that help the body fight free rad­i­cals and re­store its reg­u­lar in­flam­ma­tory re­sponse. For peo­ple who don’t get enough vi­ta­mins through food (and many of us don’t), sup­ple­ments are a good source of health-boost­ing nu­tri­ents. Of course, vi­ta­mins and omega-3 are only part of a so­lu­tion. This does not re­duce the re­spon­si­bil­ity of pol­luters, nor of law­mak­ers and au­thor­i­ties who must leg­is­late and en­force poli­cies that stop pol­lu­tion. It means that gov­ern­ments, sci­en­tists and the pri­vate sec­tor should work to­gether and con­tinue re­search in this area be­cause im­prov­ing nu­tri­tion is easy and in­ex­pen­sive, and it may be one way to help the bil­lions of peo­ple who are wait­ing with bated breath, some­times quite lit­er­ally, for air pol­lu­tion to stop.

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