Our world is undergoing a drastic transformation. With the Age of Machine, comes the age of pollution as well. We are dealing with various health implication of pollution, whether it is soil borne or airborne or waterborne. Air pollution has always been known to affect our respiratory system, eyes, and skin. But do you know polluted air mounts up the damage to gut health as well!
How Air Pollution Affects Gut Health?
The gut microbiome is an area which scientists are trying to understand deeply. Gut scientists have shown us the importance of the microbiome in various aspects of life. How different lifestyle factors affects it. Why it is an integral part of the body, affecting various organs and systems including the brain. And how it plays a vital role in different diseases and define one’s health!
Recently scientists have shown how air pollution is triggering an alteration in the gut microbiome and making it unhealthy. This is a piece of bad news, especially for city dwellers-
As the quality of air is degrading, so is the health of the gut.
Our gut microbiome is dynamic and gets changed with every variation in life. Food, water and now air as well, directly influence its state.
Naturally, air contains Nitrogen, Oxygen, Carbon dioxide, Water Vapors, and some other gases in trace amounts. But once chemicals and harmful particles enter, it lowers the quality of air. And the air becomes harmful to all living creatures of our planet.
The biggest cause of air pollution in the current age is the burning of fossil fuels (like petroleum and coal), construction dust, and industrial fumes.
The man-made sources do more damage to our health than natural causes.
Asthma, Ischemic Heart Disease, Stroke, Lung Cancer, and COPD, are some of the major disease caused by air pollution. Air pollution causes damage to gut health as well. Recent studies have shown that IBD, imbalanced fasting glucose, obesity and gut dysbiosis is linked to certain pollutants present in the air.
Main Air Pollutants Responsible for Gut Damage
The main felons behind air pollution which affects the gut health are :
TRAP or Traffic-Related Air Pollutants, also known as vehicle emissions are emitted by cars, heavy vehicles (like trucks, buses) and non-road equipment (like lawn equipment or recreational vehicles)
Traffic-Related Air Pollution is a rising risk to health in major cities. The TRAP is found to be linked to
Namely, carbon monoxide (CO), carbon dioxide (CO2), volatile organic compounds (VOCs) or hydrocarbons (HC), and nitrogen oxides (NOx) are major TRAPs.
These compounds alter the composition of gut microbiota leading to gut dysbiosis which results in weight gain, and ultimately obesity. In addition to weight gain, it also increases fasting glucose levels which subsequently lead to Type-2 Diabetes. Furthermore, researches have shown that dysbiosis also results in metabolic disorders.
According to a study published in Environmental Research, these pollutants alter the gut microbiota causing dysbiosis. This alteration causes decreased Bacteroidaceae (good bacteria) and increased Coriobacteriaceae (bad bacteria). As a result of which, the rate of obesity in adolescents who are in continuous exposure of TRAPs are increasing alarmingly. Consequently, it leads to a rise in cases of diabetic adolescents.
Particulate Matters (PM)
Particulate Matter (PM) is the total liquid and solid particles suspended in the air which are hazardous for health. All organic and inorganic, natural and man-made particles belong to this category. For example- pollens, dust, smoke, soot, and droplets, etc.
PM has been linked to stroke, myocardial infarction, arrhythmia, cardiac arrest, venous thrombosis, and lung cancer up until now. But things have changed lately, PM now is found to be related to adverse effects on gastrointestinal tract as well.
Emerging studies have shown evidence of PM exposure and increased risk of
Colon and liver cancer
PM also causes dysbiosis just like TRAPs, which can consequently lead to obesity and OIMD.
PM is also found to be linked to increased intestinal permeability. As a result of which disease like celiac disease and diabetes occurs.
How Air Pollution Can Be Prevented?
Air pollution exposure can be reduced by taking the following measures:
Use air filters: Air purifier helps people suffering from various allergies.
Lessen smoking and the use of fireplace: Both, the smoke from cigarettes and fireplace contain amply fine particles. These fine particles are the major cause of indoor air pollution.
Dodge particle pollution: The continuous combustion of fuels in vehicles could be avoided by lessening the traffic load, or by simply closing the windows of your car, or by wearing masks.
Reduce the footprint of pollution: If you are really willing to reduce the pollution footprint on atmosphere, choose either of Walking, Cycling or Public transport. Choose electric over diesel or petroleum. Improve the overall efficiency of your living by opting for ‘renewable-energy’ resources.
The damage once done by pollution on gut should be cured by such a remedy which can work on the root cause of the diseases. We have discussed far and wide, on how air pollutants result in dysbiosis. Which consequently results in other issues, whether it be obesity or IBD.