Naturopathy and the health impacts of pollution
Recently, the news has been exposing the risks associated with pollution and global warming, however, the risks associated between environmental pollution and human health are not being discussed enough.
Reading 'The Guardian', I read that: "The climate crisis has arrived and is accelerating faster than most scientists expected. It is more severe than anticipated, threatening natural ecosystems and the fate of humanity", according to a statement published in the journal BioScience on the 40th anniversary of the first world climate conference, which was held in Geneva in 1979.
As environmental pollution increases worldwide, the impact that it has is not only related to negative environmental changes, but it is also deeply impacting the quality of our health.
If we only look at the numbers we would find alarming news, but I believe that if health practitioners and everyone else work together, we can change the statistics.
In London, air pollution affects everyone from children to elderly people, and even more those with heart and respiratory conditions. People living in overpopulated areas also have poorer air quality, partly because these areas are often near busy roads.
In 2015, a study by King's College London showed that, in 2010, there was the equivalent of up to 5,900 premature deaths across London associated with long term nitrogen dioxide (NO2) exposure.
Environmental pollution has been associated with increased mortality for chronic-degenerative diseases. Recent data points out a relationship between proximity to industrial areas and mortality due to chronic diseases.
Acute and chronic exposure is also known to impair cardiovascular function, exacerbate disease, and increase cardiovascular mortality. Long-term exposure to pollution can also lead to an increase in the rate of decline of lung function, especially in elderly individuals and in those with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.
One of the main mechanisms associated with air pollution and the damage to our cells is that pollution interferes with mitochondria (a component of the cell responsible for the production of energy), and it disturbs the cell's DNA, causing damage to it. In addition, it also disturbs the level of cellular metabolites that may be involved in different epigenetic processes.
Some studies even suggest that these modifications can persist through generations, and result in specific vulnerable genes inherited by future generations.
As extremely important environmental health factors, the location in which you live, the location where you work, and the places where you have lived and worked in the past, should all be taken into consideration by your health practitioner, and risk factors should be taken into consideration.
Your nutritional therapist will take these aspects into consideration, including your lifestyle and dietary habits, and the practitioner should evaluate environmental factors in detail.
As a natural medicine practitioner, your naturopath may suggest complementary approaches that will help your immune system to deal with the pollutants that you can't avoid. Other options may include the use of natural treatments to support innate immune system mechanisms that may protect you from developing certain types of diseases.
It is important that you openly speak with your practitioner about all of these factors, and it is also important to discuss specific strategies that you think will help you deal with environmental pollutants.
We can't live in a perfect world, but we can create and discuss strategies to reduce the negative health impact that pollution has on us.
It is important that we work together to find good solutions that will have a positive impact on our health and that will protect our planet for future generations.
Links to studies and articles:
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About Luna Marques
Luna Marques is a qualified Naturopath/Nutritional therapist from Portugal.
She is a member of the Association of Naturopathic Practitioners and has moved recently to London.… Read more
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