Blood sugar concerns are on the rise globally. Many people blame lifestyle or diet. But, if those were the only factors, it shouldn’t be a global trend as diets and lifestyles vary around the world.
A study from India examined air pollution as a possible factor in blood sugar concerns. PM2.5 particles in the air are 30 times thinner than a strand of hair. They can be absorbed into the bloodstream and cause many health problems.
“Air pollution can affect each and every organ in the body. When polluted air enters our body via lungs, it gets diffused into our blood through which it can reach all parts of our body. Noxious gases and small particulate matter like PM2.5 easily get mixed in blood and may cause ill effects. Though respiratory system remains the first and most common affected part, other systems can also get affected,” says Dr. Sandeep Nayar.
Dr. Nayar explained that air pollution can impact blood sugar health in many ways. Air pollution can cause oxidative stress and raise inflammation, both of which can increase blood sugar concerns. Pollution can also harm the cells in the pancreas that make insulin. Pollution can also increase insulin resistance, so even if the body makes enough insulin, it’s harder for the body to react to food correctly.
There’s also the less obvious link between air pollution and blood sugar concerns. On days when air quality is terrible people don’t go out to exercise. In the past, we have recommended staying indoors and “hunkering down” if the air quality is awful. In the short term, it’s safer. However, if you live somewhere with a lot of pollution, that’s not a solution. Pollution levels are rising, and if that’s the case in your area, you should find a great place to exercise indoors to avoid your health paying the price.
The researchers found that one month of exposure to PM2.5 particles increased blood sugar levels, and prolonged exposure was linked to a higher risk of serious blood sugar concerns. And, the health risks increased incrementally with how bad the pollution was, showing it was more than just a coincidence.
“We must try to reduce pollution by whatever way we can,” said Dr. Nayan. “Patients should take their medicines regularly and consult their physicians in case they develop symptoms related to pollution.”
The study is part of larger research that has been ongoing since 2010 looking at chronic diseases. So much of our health is impacted by the air we breathe. India has some of the worst air pollution on Earth, so it’s a good place for the study. The study also linked pollution to high blood pressure, heart attacks and heart failures.
As we have said in the past, keeping an eye on air quality using apps can help you plan your day. Getting an air filter for inside your home makes your living space healthier. And wearing masks when the air is bad can help reduce the particles you breathe in.