Air pollution is a huge problem in the UK at the moment. In January, London Mayor Sadiq Khan warned even the physically fit against exercising outside because of the “toxic air”, and last month the European Commission gave us two months to clean up our act after persistently breaching the EU’s legal air pollution limits.
But one group of researchers has discovered a very simple way for us to reduce the damage to our bodies: omega 3 fatty acids (OFAs), found in flax, hemp and fish oil, which can be consumed in capsule form, The Guardian reported.
We’re often told about the benefits of omega supplements for our brain and skin, but now a light has been shone on their ability to slash the health damage caused by toxic air.
The research on mice, led by Dr Jing Kang, at Massachusetts General Hospital, part of Harvard Medical School, found OFAs can prevent and also help to reduce harmful inflammation and oxidative stress caused by air pollution by 30-50%.
“These pathological changes are very important because they are the fundamental mechanisms for the common chronic diseases we have today," Kang said.
“I can anticipate the same things [that happen in mice] would happen in humans, because many other inflammatory diseases in humans can be treated with OFAs. We feel very confident OFAs can do something very good”, he added.
Kang recommended people take OFAs – two to four grammes per day – to reduce the problems caused by air pollution, adding that "they are not like a drug, but a nutrient with so many benefits".
However, the NHS says it can be dangerous to consume too much omega 3 through fish, particularly for children and pregnant women, as it could contain mercury and other pollutants. Moderation is key.
Less positive was the finding that the impact of toxic air on human health could be worse than previously thought. Air pollution particles found their way through the lab animals' lungs into major organs, including the brain, liver, kidneys, spleen, and testes, which is concerning for fertility and reproduction.
Air pollution is rising all over the world, according to the World Health Organization, with more than 80% of people who live in urban areas being exposed to air quality levels that exceed WHO limits.
We reckon this calls for a trip to the nearest vitamin and supplement aisle.