Role of Medical Nutrition to fight hazardous Air Pollution

Updated: Nov 20

Air pollution refers to the release of pollutants into the air that are detrimental to human health and the planet as a whole. It is a mixture of solid particles and gases in the air. Car emissions, chemicals from factories, dust, pollen and mold spores may be suspended as particles. Ozone, a gas, is a major part of air pollution in cities. When ozone forms air pollution, it's also called smog.

AQI: Air Quality Index

The air quality index (AQI) is an index for reporting air quality on a daily basis. It is a measure of how air pollution affects one's health within a short time period. The purpose of the AQI is to help people know how the local air quality impacts their health. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) calculates the AQI for five major air pollutants, for which national air quality standards have been established to safeguard public health.

1. Ground-level ozone

2. Particle pollution/particulate matter (PM2.5/pm 10)

3. Carbon Monoxide

4. Sulfur dioxide

5. Nitrogen dioxide

The higher the AQI value, the greater the level of air pollution and the greater the health concerns. The concept of AQI has been widely used in many developed countries for over the last three decades. AQI quickly disseminates air quality information in real-time.

Types of Pollutants

Outdoor Pollutants:

Outdoor air pollution is a major environmental health problem affecting everyone in low, middle, and high-income countries. Ambient (outdoor) air pollution in both cities and rural areas was estimated to cause 4.2 million premature deaths worldwide per year in 2016. This mortality is due to exposure to small particulate matter of 2.5 microns or less in diameter (PM2.5) which cause cardiovascular and respiratory disease, and cancers.

Indoor Pollutants:

Nevertheless, indoor air contains all the same pollutants as in the outdoor air, but the concentrations are usually lower. Besides the same pollutants in outdoor air, there are some other components in indoor air which come from inside the building. Exposure to smoke from cooking fires causes 3.8 million premature deaths each year, mostly in low- and middle-income countries. Burning fuels such as dung, wood and coal in inefficient stoves or open hearths produces a variety of health-damaging pollutants, including particulate matter (PM), methane, carbon monoxide, polyaromatic hydrocarbons (PAH) and volatile organic compounds (VOC). Burning kerosene in simple wick lamps also produces significant emissions of fine particles and other pollutants.

Pollution Global prevalence

WHO data shows that 9 out of 10 people breathe air that exceeds WHO guideline limits containing high levels of pollutants, with low and middle-income countries suffering from the highest exposures.

Adverse effect of air pollution on respiratory health

When we breathe in dirty air, we bring air pollutants deep into our lungs, so it’s no surprise that air pollution causes serious damage to the respiratory tract.

As indicated by the American Thoracic Society (ATS), air pollution was associated with many respiratory diseases. The detrimental effects include decrease in pulmonary function, increase of infections, increase in respiratory symptoms, acute exacerbations of COPD, onset of asthma, more hospitalizations, increased respiratory mortality, and higher prevalence of childhood asthma.

Nutrition and Breathing

Most people are surprised to learn that the food they eat may affect their breathing. Our body uses food as fuel for all of its activities. The right mix of nutrients in our diet can help us breathe easier. No single food will supply all the nutrients we need, a healthy diet has lots of variety.

There is a lot of research going on to understand the relation and role of diet in mitigating the effects of pollution, alterations in diet, including vitamin supplementation in abrogating the effects of pollution on asthma and other chronic respiratory diseases.

A good source of protein at least twice a day to help maintain strong respiratory muscles.

High fiber diets rich in whole grains have been shown to have a protective effect on lung function and may reduce the risk of mortality from lung-related diseases.

Eating foods rich in antioxidants can counter the damage done to the body by oxidative stress, as antioxidants effectively ‘mop up’ free radicals and so prevent them from causing damage.

Vitamin C is widely distributed throughout the body including the extracellular lining fluid of the lung. It lower oxidative stress, increases collagen synthesis and restore vascular endothelial growth factor levels and proliferation of alveolar cells in the lungs.

Lycopene, a carotenoid has shown to reduce allergic airways inflammation.

Beta-Carotene, a precursor to vitamin A and other carotenoids, accumulates in tissue membranes, scavenges O2− and reacts directly with peroxyl free radicals generated by O3. It could, therefore, play a role in the control of inflammation and immune response through its antioxidant properties.

Omega-3 fatty acids (n-3 PUFA) helps body to combat lung infections and can decrease the inflammatory reaction.

Curcumin: a potent anti-inflammatory agent in the lungs and that it may also protect against pulmonary fibrosis. Pre-clinical studies have shown the curcumin can prevent cadmium-induced IL-6 and Il-8 inflammatory secretion by human airway epithelial cells. Cadmium is a toxic metal present in the environmental and its inhalation can lead to pulmonary disease including lung cancer and COPD.

Vitamin A (Carotenoids), might improve prevention or treatment of Asthma by downregulation of oxidative stress, or via direct effect on immune system by downregulation of T-helper (Th)2 (pro-allergic) immune response.

Vitamin D may reduce risk of severe asthma exacerbation and lung cancer.

Vitamin E a lipid-soluble vitamin, represents the principal defense against oxidant-induced membrane injury in human tissue because of its role in breaking the lipid peroxidation chain reaction. It also decreases production of prostaglandin E2, a metabolite of arachidonic acid produced by lipid peroxidation of lung cells after O3 exposure.

Omega-3 PUFA: Increased intake of omega-3 (n-3 PUFA) can decrease the inflammatory reaction.

Selenium: an essential trace element that plays a role in the detoxification of peroxides and free radicals, could also play an important role in the prevention of lung injury.

Magnesium helps the smooth muscle airway to relax and help control the body’s response to infection.

Micronutrients such as zinc, and folic acid can also influence several components of immunity, altering the function of macrophages and thus their role in innate immunity and inflammation. Studies have shown that deficiencies in these micronutrients can significantly alter macrophage phagocytosis and their production of cytokines (IL-1 and IL-6, TNF-α and IFN-γ). These deficiencies also alter natural killer cell function, neutrophil motility and antimicrobial activity.

We at Zeon Lifesciences aim forGood Health for All

With 30+ years of experience in the industry, we are working meticulously to bring the knowledge of nature with innovation and advanced technology in the form of Unique Combinations to our consumers. We believe in fortifying our supplements to match the latest trends and technologies. One of our potential project includes Medical Nutrition Therapy (MNT), it is an integral component to support respiratory diseases. MNT for Respiratory diseases contains various formulas such as Lamino Respi, ZeoTum Chew, ZeoRelief, Various Multivitamins and Multiminerals, Supplements containing nanosolubilised Curcumin in the form of Powders, Tablets/Chewtabs, Capsules, Syrups and Diskettes.

View more in the Medical Nutrition Range-


International Journal of COPD 2016, 11:2721-2728.

Cell Immunology 2002, 215:54-60.

European Respiratory Journal 2008, 31:179-197


American Lung Association

Respiratory Research 2018, 19: 79

Clinical Nutrition 2001, 20:173-179

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