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Support my body living in a polluted area

Air pollution is on the rise and is commonly being described as a silent killer, with exposure being linked to suppressed lung growth, asthma, heart disease, foetal brain growth damage and the onset of type 2 diabetes. This silent killer has been reported to relate to 40, 000 deaths in the UK each year, with 8 in 10 caused by a heart attack or stroke. King’s College London have cited that Oxford Street, the UK’s most visited shopping destination, has the worst pollution levels in the world.

Air pollution causes a myriad of changes in the body affecting many different body systems including the respiratory system, circulatory system, endocrine system and digestive system. If you happened to live in a heavily polluted area, moving might not be an option, so better to focus your attention on your immediate environment which you may have more, if not full, control over.

Check your house for moulds and open windows regularly to allow in fresh air. Consider buying a high-quality air purifier or buy some houseplants to help oxygenate and clean the environment. Switch to non-toxic cleaning products, and safer personal care products to minimize your exposure to toxins.

Traffic pollution may be the single most toxic substance for skin – dermatologists are now arguing that it is not the sun but traffic pollution that is ageing and killing our skin. Protect yours by wearing an SPF daily, even when it’s cloudy, and choose skin products loaded with antioxidants to help fight free radical damage. Cleanse every evening to thoroughly clean the skin of any grime.

Internally there is lots that can be done to help protect your body against the harmful effects of pollution. Fish oil can play a major role in tackling the detrimental health impacts that people can suffer having been exposed to contaminated air by modulating inflammation. Vitamin E is a powerful antioxidant that can help to reduce oxidative stress caused by pollution; food sources of vitamin E include almonds, seeds, spinach and kale.

B vitamins may offer some protection against the impacts of air pollution due to their protective role to our DNA. Air pollution can alter genes in the immune system at the epigenetic level – switching them on or off, and inhibiting our defences. Food source of B vitamins include whole grains, eggs, fish, poultry, meat and dairy.

Vitamn C is one of the most powerful antioxidants due to its ability to aid tissue growth and repair, and has been shown to guard against the negative effects of air pollutants by neutralizing free radical activity. Our bodies do not have the ability to store or make vitamin C so we are dependent on a daily intake. Foods rich in vitamin D include dark green leafy vegetables, all citrus fruits, bell peppers, red and green chilli peppers, fresh herbs, cauliflower, papaya and strawberries.

Choosing organic food produce helps to minimize exposure and the potential damaging effects of pesticides. If a 100% organic food shopping bill is understandably not in your budget, there are selected fruits and vegetables that are likely to have the highest pesticide absorption and would therefore benefit most from being sourced organically if possible. This list include tomatoes, parsnips, cucumber, carrots, lettuce, beans in pods, peas in pods, sweet potato, courgette, oranges, lemons, pineapples, pears, apples, grapes, strawberries, peaches and apricots.