Switch to a Mediterranean diet for protection from air pollution
A new study shows that a Mediterranean diet can protect you from the harms of air pollution and reduce risk of dying from heart attacks and stroke.Updated: May 22, 2018 17:30 IST
The Mediterranean diet is considered to be one of the healthier diet options. Low in meat and dairy but rich in fresh fruits and vegetables, beans, nuts and ‘healthy’ fats, the diet is believed to offer a host of health benefits. Studies have shown how it is good for the liver and the brain, effective in preventing heart disease, protects the elderly from frailty and prevents Alzheimer’s disease.
Now, a new study by the New York University School of Medicine in the US shows that following a Mediterranean diet may protect people from some of the harms of air pollution, and reduce their risk of dying from heart attacks and stroke.
Rich in antioxidants, the Mediterranean diet favours fruits, vegetables, whole grains, legumes, olive oils, fish and poultry over red meat and processed foods. “Previous studies have shown that dietary changes, particularly the addition of antioxidants, can blunt the adverse effects of exposure to high levels of air pollution over short time periods,” said Chris C Lim, a doctoral student at the New York University School of Medicine.
“What we did not know was whether diet can influence the association between long-term air pollution exposure and health effects,” Lim said. The researchers analysed data from the National Institutes of Health (NIH)-American Association of Retired Persons (AARP) Diet and Health Study.
The study found that cardiovascular disease deaths increased by 17% for every 10 microgrammes per cubic metre increase in long-term average PM2.5 exposure in those least adherent to Mediterranean diet, compared to five per cent among the most adherent. Heart attack deaths increased by 20% for every 10 microgrammes per cubic metre increase in PM2.5 exposure in those least adherent, compared to five per cent among the most adherent.
“Given the benefits we found of a diet high in antioxidants, our results are consistent with the hypothesis that particle air pollution caused by fossil fuel combustion adversely affects health by inducing oxidative stress and inflammation,” said George Thurston from NYU School of Medicine.
However, adherence to a Mediterranean diet did not appear to protect against the harmful effects of long-term exposure to ozone effect (O3). “The ozone effect was not significantly blunted by a Mediterranean diet, so ozone apparently affects cardiac health through a different mechanism,” Thurston said.
(Inputs from PTI)
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First Published: May 22, 2018 17:29 IST