Invisible dangers worry us less because…, well, they’re invisible. But that doesn’t mean they’re not there. If we’ve ever seen a big city from afar, we may have had a chance to see the pollution ‘fungus’ that sometimes envelops it. That is something that all its inhabitants breathe day after day, possibly throughout their lives and is very dangerous to their health.
This particular ‘atmosphere’ is composed of nitrogen dioxide (NO2) particles, a toxic and irritating gas; sulfur dioxide (SO2), a precursor of acid rain because it forms sulfuric acid; ozone (O3), a gas that protects us from dying irradiated by ultraviolet rays, it is toxic if we inhale it; and suspended particles (known as PM2.5), whose diameter is 100 times smaller than a human hair. The health effects of these invisible substances are devastating. The good news is that, as in everything, diet could help us combat its effects on our body.
“Pollution causes damage to the body due to oxidative stress and inflammation”
A new study by researcher Chris Lim and his New York University team, conducted with more than half a million people over a 17-year period, has revealed that there is a specific diet that could help alleviate the evils caused by pollution, which are, according to the scientist himself: “Damage to the body due to oxidative stress and inflammation.”
What diet is that to which the study refers? Well, the Mediterranean, of course.
The benefits of traditional foods no longer surprise anyone, but in the presentation of the aforementioned study, researcher Chris Lim made it clear that “the Mediterranean diet is really rich in foods that are anti-inflammatory and that also have antioxidants that can positively intervene in the effects that atmospheric pollution has on our body”.
The results of the study confirm this: of these 550,000 people, those who followed the most a Mediterranean diet suffered fewer diseases related to environmental pollution. Although the results are inconclusive (based on a statistical correlation, which does not necessarily imply that it is the cause), the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) itself confirms that “studies, including those prepared by EPA researchers, suggest that foods, supplements, or medications with antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties, such as olive oil or fish oil, have the potential to protect, at least partially, against conditions caused by air pollution, such as cardiovascular or respiratory diseases.”