As if pollution hasn’t done enough damage to our lungs and overall health, it seems that the latest research indicates an increased risk of cognitive decay, Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia due to toxic particles in the air.
According to the aforementioned study, in addition to the already established link between genetics and brain tissue damage, the interaction between dangerous air particles and the genes responsible for dementia only contributes to the negative ramifications. So how does this affect our daily lives and what can we do to protect our health?
The urban environment
Institutions that monitor the level of pollution in each part of the world such as the World Health Organization have come to a conclusion that the rate at which pollution is increasing is not only alarming but also causing an increased number of health issues, including those related to cognitive decay. And although it’s impossible for everyone to relocate and live in the countryside, improving your indoor air quality and spending more time in nature can be your first step towards a better life.
Those who are affected the most live in developing countries with densely populated urban areas, along with few environmental policies in place to keep pollution under strict supervision or control. So, until the authorities take some serious steps to tackle the long-term issue, it’s up to you and your family to do all you can to minimize your risk of unhealthy exposure to pollution.
Overpopulation and industrial issues
While numerous cities are doing their best to minimize their carbon footprint, introduce renewable energy sources such as solar, water and wind, there is still the issue of a fast growing population in many developing countries, leading to more vehicles used and a greater negative impact on our mental health. We are still dealing with a great number of industrial centres and high traffic rates, both of which are causing higher than safe levels of pollution.
Inhaling smog, soot and other toxic microelements can find their way to our brains, causing neurodegeneration, the main culprit of Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia. If you live in a city, you might want to consider an alternative energy source (solar or wind, for instance), and walking or eco-friendly public transportation instead of a family car.
The brain and polluted air
With so many environmental factors at play, it has been difficult thus far to establish a clear link between pollution and Alzheimer’s, but the latest studies have isolated ultrafine pollutants from the brain tissue of the affected group, meaning that somehow the particles from the air can end up directly in our brain. Furthermore, these imperceptible toxins are capable of damaging our DNA and expediting brain damage.
Several major studies by world-renowned universities in Toronto, Chicago, and Southern California to name a few, have shown that animals and humans alike exposed to pollution above normal levels show a greater cognitive decline, impaired memory, disorientation, and other issues that are signs of early onset Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia. Elderly women in particular, especially the ones with a genetic predisposition towards dementia, show a significantly higher level of brain damage when they live in polluted, urban environments.
Even though the most relevant changes need to be made on a global scale and on a government level of each country, there are a few lifestyle changes we can all introduce to improve the quality of our lives and protect our minds from premature aging and decay. We spend most of our time inside, so it’s crucial to cleanse your indoor air and lower your exposure to pollution.
- Using greenery in your home décor is more than just appealing, because plants are natural air purifiers, and they will help remove toxins and increase the oxygen level in your home. Shop for low-maintenance plants such as the Golden Pothos, or a rubber plant.
- Look for high-quality air purifiers such as Oransi, which are energy-efficient, with first-rate HEPA filters, and causing little noise while keeping your home air perfectly clean.
- Consider using Himalayan salt lamps in your home, as they produce negative ions that help cleanse your air, which will only amplify the effect of your plants and air filters.
- Try switching to eco-friendly cleaning supplies, because they are equally efficient without releasing harsh chemicals into the air, so you can lower your exposure to harmful fumes by using gentler, natural products.
- Keep your lifestyle as healthy as possible, so try to ditch unhealthy habits such as smoking, and you and your family will substantially lower your risk of respiratory and cognitive issues.
Raising awareness of the latest research results indicating a clear connection between dementia and air pollution is one of the key steps in mitigating the issue in every part of the world. You can certainly make your small, yet significant contribution by adjusting your lifestyle and ensuring a healthy living environment for you and your family.