Multiple epidemiological studies document the damage fine particulate matter has on the human body, including links to diabetes, cancer, stroke, heart disease and kidney diseases. A recent study from the University of Washington published in the Lancet Planetary Health takes the research to a new level by quantifying how many cases of diabetes can be estimated to be caused by the fine particulate matter in air pollution.
In this study, researchers estimate that 3.2 million cases of diabetes around the world can be directly linked to global pollution issues. They found an increased risk of diabetes, even at low levels of exposure considered safe by the Environmental Protection Agency and the World Health Organization. The research focused on the means that fine particulates could be linked to reduced insulin production and increased inflammation in the body. This would contribute to reducing a cell's ability to convert blood glucose into energy, making a person more likely to suffer from diabetes.
We all breathe air. However, some bodies are better nourished and genetically capable of detoxifying pollutants. Many people, however, are negatively affected by breathing in the pollution. Patients can take steps to reduce exposure and the impact that exposure has on the body. In naturopathic medicine, environmental factors affecting health are critical points for many patients' needs and clinical symptoms.
Instead of simply treating the symptoms, a patient is best served to try to protect her pancreas from any and all sources of inflammation and damage. One of the means to do this is to do a thorough history of environmental exposures, and to assess body burden of certain pollutants.
For example, mercury is a component of fine particulate matter, and is another environmental chemical directly linked to pancreatic islet cell destruction, increased risk of diabetes, and inflammation. Along with many other environmental pollutants and components of fine particulate matter, mercury disrupts Kreb's cycle, and disrupts intra-cellular (inside the cell) and inter-cellular (from cell to cell) communication.
Any patient who understands their diabetic physiology can recognize it is a disease of communication. The endocrine system hormones and the cell membrane receptors and intracellular proteins are not efficiently bringing glucose out of the bloodstream and into Kreb's cycle. The most effective treatments should be aimed at re-establishing good communication, instead of just forcing the glucose out of the bloodstream.
For health reasons, in the body, it is best to get rid of the disruptors. The main organs of elimination that help the body deal with high pollution levels and fine particulate matter are the liver, kidneys and the skin. Naturopathic herbs and nutrition focus on optimizing the function of these pathways to help lessen the effects of pollution on inflammatory conditions, including diabetes.
For patients dealing with diabetes, or those who wish to prevent diabetes, it is common to identify factors in a person's diet, as well as looking into their stress levels. The important focus on nutrition is a means to provide improved glucose control, and help patients see a reduction in their hemoglobin A1c readings. However, it is also critical to thoroughly detoxify the body as best as possible in today's world.
A diet that is rich in fresh, local and organic fruits and vegetables, which have lot of antioxidants, vitamins, minerals and detoxification cofactors, is an excellent start to combatting the effects of pollution. Each person has an ability to work to lessen its deleterious health effects by choosing whole foods and optimizing function of the organs that eliminate the toxins.
For the planet, it is also best to get rid of the disruptors. These pollutants, if properly regulated, can be reduced, and in many cases replaced by sustainable industrial practices which don't create chronic illness and don't shorten lives.