The first day of summer is in a few weeks (June 20th, to be exact), and with the summer season comes renewed attention to pollution and the impacts of a broken agricultural system. But there’s more to the issue than what you see on the news and observe around you. In fact, our planet’s health and environment is closely linked with our own physical and mental health, including the health of our immune system. Today, let’s take a fascinating look at how each of us is so closely linked with the health of the environment itself.
Care For the Environment Isn’t Just Good For the Planet: How the Environment Around You Impacts Your Health
1. Air Pollution
Nine out of ten of us breathe highly polluted air, warns the World Health Organization. And that’s nothing to sneeze at. Air pollution doesn’t just create hazy skies, but it is also closely linked with a wide range of adverse health effects. These include:
- A higher risk of respiratory diseases, such as emphysema and chronic bronchitis
- An increased risk of cardiovascular disease. For example, fine particles in the air can impair how your blood vessels function
- An elevated risk of cancer, including breast cancer, lung cancer, and non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma
- A decreased immune response to bacteria and viruses, potentially because your immune system is chronically overwhelmed with responding to poor air quality
The good news is that in the United States, our emissions of major air pollutants have dropped by 78 percent compared to our air pollution levels in 1970. The bad news is that countries like Canada, Australia, Sweden and New Zealand all outrank the U.S. in terms of air quality, and statistics show our air quality (and the number of deaths related to air pollution) has risen in the past couple of years.
What you can do if you live in a highly polluted area:
- Keep your windows and doors shut when possible
- Drive with your car’s air system set to recirculate (that can cut the air pollution levels in your car by up to 20 percent)
- Run a HEPA air filter in your home
- Monitor the air quality index in your region, and avoid prolonged time outdoors when the air quality is especially bad
2. Water Pollution
Lately, many people have been caught up in the spate of Netflix documentaries detailing the impact that human activity is having on the ocean’s environment, but don’t forget water pollution in your drinking water.
In some areas, drinking water can be high in heavy metals and other pollutants.
A 2020 study published in the journal Environmental Science and Pollution Research volume found that poor drinking water quality can compromise your immune response.
And even bottled water may not be the safest option, since many bottled waters leach dangerous plastic chemicals into the water.
What you can do:
- Use a water filter
- Avoid contributing to the problem by ensuring you don’t put things down the drain that shouldn’t go down a drain
- Ask to see your municipalities water quality reports (these are public documents) and write to your local government leaders if those water reports reveal water quality concerns
3. Overuse of Antibiotics, Biocides and Pesticides
Research on our microbiome continues to be a growing, new field. However, preliminary reports paint an interesting picture of how overuse of antibiotics and biocides could affect viruses, bacteria, and our odds of getting sick.
In one study, researchers found that a drug-resistant Candida fungus has spread across three continents in the past few years. There are concerns over the continued overuse of antibiotics in both humans and livestock as well as biocides and pesticides used in agriculture. Another, lesser talked about use of medications to control infections and infestations is the routine and often unnecessary worming of pets and livestock. Rather than regularly testing animals to determine whether parasites are present, routine medication is given and are even used preventatively. Think of all the spot treatments used on domestic pets to prevent fleas and ticks! These chemicals could not only have an affect on the health of the animals themselves, but also raise an issue for environmental run-off.
And these are just a few examples out of many. We know that bacteria, virus, fungi are very capable of adaptation. The overuse of chemicals to indiscriminately kill these microorganisms can lead to further superbugs and drug-resistant infections. Chemicals may also directly contribute to damage to our normal, natural immune reactions and another example of where we as humans are trying to force nature to conform to us rather than us adapting to nature.
What you can do: First, support your immune system so that it can respond more effectively to changing viruses and bacteria that may be evolving. Start with BioPro-Plus 500, which helps to “train” your immune system’s cells.
Second, consider all of the above to be less about a specific action, and more about philosophy and world views that create future actions.
It’s time that we all shift our perspectives about pollution and the importance of caring for the environment. Earth itself, just like our own bodies, is a complex, interconnected network of systems. Despite all the ways that our modern lifestyles make it appear that we have control and separation from the environment, it’s clear that our health and wellness are intricately intertwined with the planet. Caring for one necessitates caring for the other, and vice versa.
Allow this growing appreciation of the role of the environment in your own health to guide you going forward. Consider all the ways that you contribute to the problem, or to the solution. See things like minimizing the amount of chemicals you use or choosing eco-conscious brands as a critical aspect of your holistic health. And remember that when you advocate for the environment, you’re also advocating for your own health.
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