Every day our body is exposed to a multitude of pollutants from the most varied of origins. Pollutants are strong oxidants that lead to an imbalance in the body. As a result, more free radicals are formed, which damage our organism and can even cause inflammatory reactions . The pollutants are absorbed not only from the environment, such as air, water and soil, but also through food in the form of pesticides, plasticizers and packaging materials, medicines, luxury foods and highly processed foods, such as cigarettes and alcohol, as well as through Stress. The production of pollutants not only has a significant impact on human health, but also on nature. People are sometimes largely responsible for the increased production of harmful substances.
Where do we take which pollutants from?
The strong air pollution is primarily caused by the emission of greenhouse gases. One of the most important greenhouse gases is carbon dioxide (CO 2 ). It can be detected in the atmosphere for more than 100 years and is produced, among other things, when coal, crude oil and natural gas are burned. Another important greenhouse gas is methane (CH 4 ), which does not stay in the air as long, but is 25 times more effective than carbon dioxide. In Germany, methane is mainly produced in agriculture – here mainly in factory farming. In this context, laughing gas (N 2 O) spoken. This gas is – just like methane – much more effective than carbon dioxide and therefore even more harmful to the environment. Ruminating cattle, manure and heavily fertilized fields in particular release methane and nitrous oxide.
Nitrogen oxides also contribute to air pollution and thus also to ozone pollution. These gaseous compounds consist of both nitrogen and oxygen and, together with the volatile hydrocarbons, are responsible for the increased ozone levels on hot summer days. In addition, nitrogen oxides are involved in fine dust pollution. Particulate matter hangs in the air for a certain period of time and can lead to respiratory diseases if inhaled. The following applies: The smaller the fine dust particles, the more dangerous they are!
In addition, we absorb pollutants from the electrosmog in our environment. This electrosmog is caused by generated electrical fields, such as in computers, cell phones or even televisions.
Pesticides ( Pesticides ) keep our vegetables and fruit away from pests and diseases, but by using these substances and fertilizers such as nitrate, we pollute both our groundwater and our soil. As a result, entire fields can no longer be used to grow food. In the worst case scenario, the pesticides can migrate into our food.
In Germany, doctors prescribe large quantities of medicines every year or you can buy them yourself in pharmacies Many people take the tablet straight away if they have a slight cold; and that although herbal ingredients and sufficient rest do much more for the body. In Germany, painkillers, antibiotics and anti-inflammatory drugs are the main ones one of the most commonly taken active ingredients. With a regular intake it is possible that the drugs are deposited in the body and permanently damage health. The pollutants that we absorb through medication can influence the metabolism , shift the hormonal balance or change the signal transmission from cell to cell . That is why it is extremely important to dispose of the pharmaceuticals appropriately.
Although we have precise monitoring authorities in Germany and for many Substances maximum values are set, residues of harmful substances in our food can never be completely ruled out. The unwanted substances can migrate to our food from agriculture , food processing , packaging or via exhaust gases . Plasticizers can get into the food over time through our plastic packaging. Heavy metals such as cadmium , lead and mercury can also damage our health. Among other things, they get into our environment and thus onto our food through road traffic or the use of pesticides . The heavy metals are absorbed by the plants through the soil and mainly enter our organism through animal foods . But mushrooms can also store cadmium and mercury well and thus contain increased values. Pollutants can also arise during the preparation of food. The well-known Acrylamide can, for example, be used if it is excessively heated of carbohydrate-rich foods, especially when baking, roasting, grilling or deep-frying. The black spots on the food caused by the hot temperatures can be carcinogenic . Nitrosamines are also formed at excessively high temperatures and are classified as carcinogenic. Nitrosamines are not only found in food, but are also formed in the body from nitrite or nitrate.
In particular, heavily processed products contain questionable ingredients. These include trans fatty acids and palm oil . Trans fats are mainly found in finished products such as chips or French fries and have negative effects on the metabolism; especially the risk of a lipid metabolism disorder is increased. Palm oil is extracted from the oil palm and almost half consists of saturated fatty acids . Due to its high melting point and low price, it can be found in almost every second food. Palm oil has a negative impact on human health insofar as it contributes to high cholesterol levels and thus can also lead to cardiovascular diseases . In addition, the fatty acid esters contained are said to be carcinogenic .
Antibiotics from animal products can also damage our health. In factory farming, animals are often treated with antibiotics in the event of illnesses, which can leave residues in the meat. Actually, these active ingredients are supposed to prevent pathogens from spreading further; However, if farmers feed these substances regularly, they lose their effect and the bacteria become resistant. This is especially dangerous for people who have a weakened immune system.
Alcohol and smoking:
Nowadays, a beer after work or a glass of wine is simply part of the meal for many. The National Consumption Study II shows that the German population consumes too many alcoholic beverages. The study is based on the intake levels of the German Nutrition Society (DGE): healthy men should consume a maximum of 20 g of alcohol per day and healthy women 10 g. For example, 20 g of alcohol corresponds to half a liter of beer or a glass of wine / sparkling wine. In Germany, every fourth man and every sixth woman is above this level.
When alcohol is spoken of, the chemical compound is actually meant, ethanol . Ethanol is broken down in the liver ; During this breakdown process, the toxic acetaldehyde is created, which can negatively affect the conversion of other nutrients. Alcohol causes fatty liver, cirrhosis or even liver cancer . In addition, many other organs can also be affected by the uptake of pollutants through alcohol, such as the pancreas, digestive organs, the cardiovascular system and the immune system. Therefore, the affected organs have an increased risk of cancer.
Smoking is one of the most important and at the same time avoidable cause of death and disease. Cigarette smoke contains an abundance of toxic, harmful and in some cases carcinogenic substances . Since this is released into the environment, so-called passive smoking is just as harmful. In Germany, around a quarter of all adults currently smoke daily or occasionally. The younger population between 19 and 24 years of age is the most likely to use cigarettes. Studies show that smokers have a increased risk of cancer have. It also damages the blood vessels in the body, so that the blood can no longer be transported sufficiently and cardiovascular diseases such as a heart attack can occur. In addition, diseases such as arteriosclerosis, stroke, chronic bronchitis and a weakened immune system occur.
The uptake of sheep through smoking – like alcohol – leads to a number of nutrient deficiencies . Micronutrients are increasingly consumed or lost. That is why you should pay attention to a balanced and healthy diet that is rich in fruits and vegetables.
The human organism is in this day and age exposed to many stress factors – be it in leisure time, at work or in hectic everyday family life . From a medical point of view, stress means a natural reaction that makes our body more productive in the short term . Unlike in the Stone Age, when you had to be prepared for flight and fight, the energy made available today is no longer used by the body, so it has to be broken down in another way. If there is no breakdown, the body stores the energy in the organism. Regular exercise is a great way to get rid of excess energy. If the body is also permanently exposed to stressful situations , this leads to health impairments . Stress differs from person to person and always depends on emotional sensitivity. There are positive or negative experiences of stress. For example, leisure stress can usually be perceived as positive stress.
What are the consequences of the uptake of pollutants for our body?
Pollutants can have a negative influence on different areas of the human organism. For example, they can damage the vessels in the body through ingestion and deposition, so that the blood can no longer be adequately transported. As a result, there is a increased risk of cardiovascular disease , such as a heart attack. Deposits of pollutants can also lead to diseases such as atherosclerosis, stroke and chronic bronchitis . For example, in stressful situations, the body releases more of the hormones adrenaline, noradrenaline and cortisol. This increases the breathing and heart rate as well as the blood pressure . Muscle tension also increases. If the hormones are not broken down again, they remain in the blood and can permanently unbalance our organism, which promotes various diseases. Cardiovascular diseases, for example, can occur due to the increased heart rate. Since the blood sugar level also rises, stress is often linked to metabolic disorders, such as diabetes, . In addition, the imbalance weakens the immune system and promotes mental illnesses such as burnout, depression and sleep disorders .
In addition, pollutants can also have a negative influence on internal organs , such as the liver. The liver is the largest metabolic organ in the human body, where absorbed pollutants are broken down. At the same time, however, the breakdown of harmful substances poses a major challenge for the liver. Because if the breakdown does not take place to the full extent, free radicals are formed, which in turn can damage the organism and especially the liver itself. So it stands to reason that liver disease is often associated with one micro- and / or macronutrient deficiency . If there is a deficiency in micronutrients such as vitamins and minerals, cleansing processes in the body can no longer take place adequately because the micronutrients required for detoxification are no longer available. The consequences of a diseased liver from ingesting harmful substances can include fatty liver, cirrhosis of the liver, or even liver cancer .
In addition to the liver, other organs, such as the intestines and kidneys , can also be affected by pollutant absorption. The intestines and kidneys are particularly stressed when excessive medication is taken. The body first absorbs the medicines through the gastrointestinal tract, which primarily irritates the gastric and intestinal mucosa . This irritation in turn favors the development of other diseases. Medicines that have not yet been adequately broken down are excreted in the urine through the kidneys and can damage the kidneys in the process. However, the severity of the damage depends on the amount and dose of the drug. If medication has to be taken due to an illness, the doctor should always be consulted as to whether there are more gentle active ingredients. In addition to excessive medication, the kidneys can also be damaged by the ingestion of cadmium and mercury. The consequence of the absorption of cadmium and mercury is blood poisoning , which leads to increased blood formation , which is associated with anemia, dizziness and headaches .
In addition, the absorption of pollutants, e.g. in the case of alcohol , also have a negative influence on body weight . Because alcohol provides a lot of energy without satiating and containing nutrients. It looks similar with highly processed foods , such as ready-made meals. Those who consequently consume excessive alcohol or highly processed foods often suffer from obesity , which can turn into malnutrition over a longer period of time. Mainly “empty calories” are then consumed, which is why there is a lack of vitamins and minerals. Obesity and the associated deficiency symptoms are also favored by a damaged liver , which can no longer properly metabolize micro- and macronutrients.
What can you do against and preventively against pollutants?
To protect the body from the various pollutants, there is a number of actions that can be taken. Each of us can do something and be active! First and foremost, our diet plays an important role.
Healthy and balanced diet:
Already a healthy and A balanced diet with a high vitamin and mineral content can prevent a high intake of harmful substances. Therefore, it is advisable to make sure you buy fresh and under-processed foods in the supermarket. Fruit and vegetables from organic cultivation also have a lower exposure to pesticides. Buying fresh food automatically avoids the absorption of harmful substances from packaging. Furthermore, it is advisable to pay attention to a healthy and balanced diet, which above all contains all the important antioxidants. These are necessary to capture the free radicals that are released by pollutants from the environment and thus to protect the organism from oxidative stress. The antioxidants include vitamin C, vitamin E, vitamin A as well as β-carotene and selenium. In addition to the vital substances mentioned, a sufficient supply of vitamin D, iron and zinc should be ensured, as these nutrients are an indispensable component of a functioning immune defense. Among other things, they are part of antioxidant enzymes that break down free radicals caused by pollutants. Not only do the mentioned nutrients play an important role, but also the secondary plant substances, especially the polyphenols (e.g. green tea extract), as these also have an antioxidant effect.
It is suitable to illustrate the need for antioxidants for example vitamin C supply for smokers and non-smokers. While a non-smoker has a vitamin C recommendation of 100 mg / day, a smoker needs 50 mg / day more vitamin C, which represents an additional requirement of 50%. Because free radicals form in the body through smoking, a smoker needs more antioxidants than a non-smoker. A supply of the B vitamins is also particularly important. For example, about 80% of all people who consume too much alcohol have a deficiency that manifests itself in changes in consciousness and psychoses (Wernicke-Korsakoff syndrome. Therefore, this group of people should focus on their vitamin B 1 (Thiamine) care. They also have an increased need for folic acid; a poor supply can lead to blood formation disorders. An increased need for B vitamins is also characteristic of smokers. B vitamins reduce high levels of homocysteine in the body, which can damage blood vessels. Omega-3 fatty acids also have a positive effect on blood pressure and keep the blood vessels elastic, so that they are important for a healthy cardiovascular system.
Also with a gentle preparation of food and good hygiene at home can reduce certain pollutants. However, these can be avoided by gentle cooking methods such as stewing or steaming . Because if the temperature is too high, nitrosamines are formed, which are classified as carcinogenic. These are not only found in food, but are also formed in the body itself from nitrite or nitrate. Vitamin C , Vitamin E and Polyphenols can counteract this conversion. Thorough washing of fruit and vegetables as well as work equipment and kitchen is also of great importance. Proper storage of the food is also important; because even with adequate storage, pollutants can be reduced.
Support the environment:
In addition, no or few animal products to take in to reduce the absorption of heavy metals and other pollutants. The same applies to dairy products and eggs, as these can also be contaminated. Because also the antibiotics from animal products can be harmful to health. In factory farming, the animals are often treated with antibiotics for illnesses, which can leave residues in the meat . Actually, these active ingredients are supposed to prevent pathogens from spreading further; However, if farmers feed these substances regularly, they lose their effect and the bacteria become resistant. This is especially dangerous for people who have a weakened immune system . Avoiding animal foods can lead to greenhouse gas emissions and factory farming. But even a reduced consumption of animal products contributes to a healthier environment. Those who cannot do without meat and dairy products have the option of buying organic products , as these contain significantly fewer or no antibiotics due to stricter guidelines and are also better for the environment. This applies to all foods. It is also important to use regional and seasonal foods . This results in a lower level of pollution, as there are fewer residues of pesticides in the production of organic food.
Diet and stress are often closely related. An unhealthy diet increases the stress level in the body: because an unbalanced diet with many highly processed products, additives, bad sugars and fats leads to an increased absorption of harmful substances in the body. A conscious diet with all essential minerals and vitamins as well as regular exercise is especially important in stressful situations.
Stressful situations often lead to the release of free radicals in the body, which lead to oxidative stress in the body and damage tissue and cells. Antioxidants such as vitamin C, vitamin E and secondary plant constituents (polyphenols, carotenoids) trap these radicals and render them harmless. It is therefore advisable to consume a lot of vegetables, fruits and nuts . It also helps to get enough iron, folic acid and vitamin B 12 , as a deficiency in these nutrients leads to anemia (anemia) and stress-related symptoms such as poor concentration, headaches and tiredness are exacerbated. In the case of frequent stress, the B vitamins are particularly important for the organism, as they have a positive effect on our nervous system and our energy metabolism. Magnesium and potassium also help our nervous system to function normally. Potassium also regulates blood pressure.
However, it is not only important to ensure a healthy and balanced diet, but also enough sleep , targeted relaxation exercises and physical exercise Should be taken into account.