Updated: Jun 8, 2018
The air we breathe is JUST as important as the food we eat, the exercises we engage in, or the amount of time we spend moving in a day. Yet people never seem to really consider it when they want to "get healthy".
When is the last time you heard someone say, "I want to get healthier, and lose some fat, so I'll start by cleaning my air"? Yeah, me neither.... but the fact is, air quality is an extremely vital part of getting healthy and it can even play an important role in losing weight.
Even the ancient Chinese Art/Science of Feng Shui tells us that we need to keep our air clean, and it suggests the use of "Wood Cures" to help us do so. Now while many of you may feel Feng Shui is more art than science, it really needs to be thought of as a philosophy of lifestyle. Its key tenets are all based in health sciences. Natural light, clutter free home/work environment, low toxin, and maximizing organization, all tenants of the triad of health. And plants play a big part. Don't believe me or the ancient Chinese? Okay. How about NASA then? Ah, now I have your attention, after all, these guys really are "rocket scientists".
Before we get to NASA however, let's discuss quickly how air pollution affects us, and why you should care.
To start with, air pollution can lead to inflammation of the lungs, they key organ of our respiratory system. Inflamed lungs can lead to coughing, throat infections, respiratory disorders, tightness of chest, phlem, asthmatic attacks, headaches, nausea, and itchy eyes, and runny nose. Trust me, currently I am in Bangkok Thailand, and for the last 3 weeks Ive had a LOT of breathing issues and coughing. Then I found out today, they are experiencing a air pollution rating of 100. Just FYI, 25 and under is considered safe. So we are 4X the safe barrier.
Air pollution has been linked to be a contributing factor in a number of higher level illnesses as well including cancers, particularly as you can imagine, lung cancer.
However, surprising to most people is that air pollution can even make you overweight, or make it harder to lose weight!
Even short term exposure to air pollution has resulted in the observations of a number of metabolic disorders including, decreases in insulin sensitivity, increases rates of Type I and Type II diabetes, and promotes obesity, glucose intolerance, fatty liver disease and metabolic syndrome.
Some studies have also shown that prenatal exposure to certain common air pollutants has a very strong association with childhood obesity. While the effects on cholesterol has also been found with HDL decreasing (the good kind), and LDL (the not good kind) increasing with exposure to more air pollution.
One of the worst kinds is the air pollution from automobiles, so those in high traffic areas and urban centres need to take many extra precautions.
In a quote, Dr. Zhang, a leading researcher in air pollution and the metabolism states “Our study indicated that those who work under high levels of PM2.5 exposure, such as truck drivers and car industry employees, have a much higher risk of developing metabolic diseases such as fatty liver disease and type 2 diabetes".
Even if we think about it in simpler terms, someone with asthma or asthmatic symptoms cannot workout as hard due to the breathing restrictions from the air pollution. Therefore their exercise will not be as constructive as it could be, an issue I face as I write this very article. In fact, there is currently a warning to not exercise outside, nor let children play outside, restricting a lot of peoples exercise routines.
Now, getting back to NASA
NASA as you can imagine has a vested interest in ways to keep air clean, and they released a list of their top 10 air cleaning plants, and they suggest you have at least 1 of them for every 100 s/ft in your home.
Below I will include a link to this list. Keep in mind however, that some of these plants can be toxic to pets and/or babies if ingested by accident, so choose wisely. I have included a link to a great article on the top 10 toxic plants too. And some like the Peace Lily fall into both groups.
A great link to discover the top 10 TOXIC PLANTS you don't want in your home. Some can even kill you. And many of these are in homes and garden shops now!