Pollution and Weight Loss


Pollution is a fact of life in an industrialized society. Pollution, by its very definition, can cause harm to people, animals, and plants. As far as humans are concerned, pollution contributes to a number of serious illnesses including obesity and increased mortality.

Pollutants in the Atmosphere

A major pollutant produced by combustion is NO, nitrogen oxide. This reacts with ozone to for NO2. Another pollutant is SO2 which is produced by burning sulphur-containing fossil fuels (primarily coal and heavy oils).

Volatile organic compounds (VOCs) are another class of atmospheric pollutants. These includes numberous chemicals or an organic nature such as benzene.

Most atmospheric pollutants affect the respiratory system, but some can get into the blood and cause other diseases such as cancer.

Organic Pollutants

These chemicals last a long time in the environment and move though the food chain. These include pesticides, dioxins, and PCBs. Dioxins are formed by incomplete combustion and whenever plastics are burned. While dioxins are not dissolved by water, they enter the food chains by binding to lipids or fats.

Heavy Metals

The include arsenic, cadmium, chromium, copper, lead, manganese, mercury, nickel, silver, vanadium, and zinc. While these heavy metals are required for bodily functions, they should be present in the body only as “trace” elements. When ingested at higher concentrations than they are eliminated, they can reach dangerous levels and adversely affect health.

Heavy metals like lead, mercury, and arsenic as well as dioxins play an important part in kidney disorders, memory disorders, sleep disorders, fatigue, tremors, blurred vision, speech disorders, and other neurological impairments.

Particulate Matter

The air we breathe in composed mainly of nitrogen, oxygen, argon, and carbon dioxide. A few other trace gases are present as well as water vapor.

pollution photo

Photo by aguscr

In addition to these components of air, there are various other particles carried by the air like dust and particulates created by volcanoes or fires. But, many types of particles are created from deliberate human sources like factories, power plants, incinerators, vehicles, and construction activities.

The sizes of the particles determine where their effects will be felt. Larger particles will affect the upper respiratory tract while finder particles will be deposited in the lungs. Most people believe that the finer particles are more injurious to human health.

Studies with mice have found that exposure to airborne pollutants causes weight gain. Human studies also confirm exposure to particulate matter in the air promotes weight gain. One human study found that the level of prenatal exposure to polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons was a significant prredictor of childhood obesity at 5 and 7 years of age.

Another study examined the effect of traffic pollution on children. They recruited participants in 45 schools in 13 communities of southern California. The weight and height of 4,550 children were measured annually. The researchers began with those children in kindergarten or 1st grade and continued for the next 4 years. The researchers found those children living with the highest levels of pollution had a 13.6% greater increase in annual BMI growth compared to those children living in the lowest traffic pollution areas.

How to Detox Your Body

Pollution causes irritation, inflammation, and increases insulin resistance. It can cause weight gain and definitely interferes with your attempts at weight loss.

Since pollution is a fact of life, we should be concerned about removing as much toxicity from our bodies as possible. This is where healthy eating comes in.

Nutrients that have natural chelation properties are especially important. These include antioxidants, herbs, minerals, essential amino acids, and fiber. Glutathione, vitamins C, E, and A are helpful. Polyphenols in most plants help prevent and protect cells from oxidative stress.

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