If you have weight issues, you may have joked that you get heavier merely by looking at food. Of course, that’s impossible.
But a new study shows that simply breathing can actually cause you to pack on weight.
The study was published in the journal Environment International. It found that breathing a certain kind of pollution can trigger obesity.
Researchers analyzed the gut bacteria of 101 subjects. They then collected data about the subjects’ exposure to air pollution.
The scientists looked at three types of air pollution:
- Ozone, which is created when vehicle exhaust reacts with sunlight.
- Nitrous oxide, a toxic gas in fossil fuel emissions.
- Particulate matter, which are invisible particles that float in the air.
All of these are bad for you. But the scientists found that ozone had the biggest impact on gut bacteria. This in turn was linked with a higher risk of obesity and diabetes.
Ozone was also associated with a greater abundance of Bacteroides caecimus. That’s a bacterial species associated with weight gain.
4 Ways to Avoid Obesity-Causing Air Pollution
Here are four strategies to reduce your exposure to air pollution linked to weight gain:
- Get a HEPA filter. This is a mechanical air filter. (HEPA stands for “high-efficiency particulate air.”) These units are usually small and portable and work just for the room they are placed in. Get one and use it in areas of your home where you spend the most time.
- Don’t exercise near busy streets. Ozone, the strongest obesity-causing pollutant, is created by cars. If you jog or do any sort of outdoor exercising, keep away from busy roads. You might also consider buying a treadmill and running at home near a HEPA filter.
yourself in your car.
Professor Stephen Holgate works on the British Medical Research Council. He
says air pollution is “nine to 12 times higher inside the car than outside.”
Most cars don’t have a climate control system that can filter out pollutants. The exceptions are high-end cars made by BMW, Mercedes, and Tesla. But you may be able to buy an aftermarket HEPA filter to replace your car’s cabin filter. Bosch makes one.
- Switch to electric lawn-care equipment. Small gas engines in mowers, trimmers, and chainsaws expose the user to heavy doses of pollutants, including ozone. New electric versions often do the job just as well while being emission-free.
Air pollution is terrible for a lot of reasons. Studies show it can trigger heart disease, cancer, strokes, cognitive problems, lung disease, and diabetes. Protect your health—and your waistline—by paying attention to what goes in your lungs.
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