Friday May 5 | BY |
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Air Quality

Dave, a solidly built Harvard-educated Wall Street trader, had made a fortune. But, in the process of making his wealth, he’d lost his health. By the time he was forty-five, he had escaped a fatal heart attack, skirted around liver disease, just missed getting side-swiped by cancer, and ended up 150 pounds too heavy. The good news was that he never smoked, took time to spend with his family and friends, and had a supportive marriage to a woman who cooked fresh foods at home. His trouble was that he worked long hours and ate out most days, so only touched healthy foods on weekends.

But after he got sick, he made the switch to healthy foods, did periodic fasting, took supplements. He lost weight. His inflammation markers went down. His symptoms retreated. But, he still didn’t feel well. That’s why he came to see me.

My response to Dave was that we live in a sea of human-made chemicals. Escaping them all is impossible. A few years of healthier living doesn’t remedy a lifetime of overeating high-fat, sugary, processed foods, and lots of red meat.

Yet, our health isn’t solely determined by our own choices. We can’t escape the carcinogenic pollutants our society has pumped into our rivers and oceans and contaminated the air we breathe.

A new study confirms that nanoparticles pass into the body and accumulate in tissues.

We know that air pollution is a major killer. But up until now, it’s been difficult to measure the indirect effects of smog. Besides inducing low-grade systemic inflammation, over time microscopically tiny particles accumulate in our tissues. For example, they adhere to plaque in the arteries accelerating the effects of atherosclerosis.

Medical Conditions Linked to Air Pollution:

  • Asthma
  • Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease
  • Eye and nose irritation
  • Heart disease
  • Parkinson’s disease
  • Alzheimer’s disease
  • Reduced immunity to infections
  • Cancer
  • Accelerated aging

Researchers are investigating the link between air pollution and dementia. Accumulated nanoparticles in the brain increase the likelihood for Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s. Another study found tiny iron particles in people’s brains that may have come from vehicle exhausts.

Young children and pregnant women are most at risk for the harmful effects of air pollution. Babies of mothers exposed to toxic urban air during pregnancy are more likely to have asthma, congenital heart defects, and autism. In countries like India and China with massive levels of toxic air, serious effects on mothers and their children have become a critical public health concern.

Taking antioxidant supplements can help reduce the insidious harmful effects of air pollution. Research studies have shown that taking vitamins C, D3, E, and omega-3 fish oil have protective effects against the tissue damage caused by pollutants.

The air is getting cleaner, at least in the wealthier nations, because of stricter emission controls. But, there’s still a lot more to do. Even if the air is easier to breathe in the United States, toxic nanoparticles from China eventually spread around the world.

We should consider the air we all breathe as part of the global commons and tend to it with care.

Dr. J. E. Williams


Dr. Williams is a pioneer in integrative and functional medicine, the author of six books, and a practicing clinician with over 100,000 patient visits. His areas of interest include longevity and viral immunity. Formerly from San Diego, he now resides in Sarasota, Florida and practices at the Florida Integrative Medical Center. He teaches at NOVA Southeastern University and Emperor’s College of Oriental Medicine.

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  1. Interesting about nanoparticles, that no one thinks of. Having worked thirty years in a desert valley of dust, developed asthma. Best prescription ever written, go to island, breathe in clean, warm salt air. Thankful, for Alternative Doctors, who think outside of the box. Dr Williams, your regiment of supplements have worked miracles. Everyone needs them. Eating organic, natural foods is vitally important, along with happy, healthy home life.

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