How Climate Change Is Damaging Your Immune System

In All Health Watch, General Health, Immune Health

When we think about climate change, things like rising seas, higher temperatures, and stronger storms come to mind. 

But global warming is also affecting our bodies.  

And it’s doing it from the inside out, by changing what’s in the food we eat, according to a major Harvard study.i 

Climate Change Is Making Us Deficient in a Crucial Mineral 

Climate change is caused by rising levels of carbon dioxide (CO2) in the atmosphere. Scientists have long known that higher levels of CO2 deplete plants of certain nutrients. 

One of them is zinc. 

Zinc is crucial to proper immune function. In fact, studies have found that when people don’t have enough zinc, they are more vulnerable to a severe bout of COVID-19.ii iii 

Researchers at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health found that higher CO2 levels in the air are reducing the amount of zinc in plant foods.  

The study estimates that 175 million people could become deficient in the mineral by 2050. And those who are already deficient would likely become more so. 

Zinc is critical to the human body for: 

  • Activating T cells, which control and regulate the immune response. T cells also attack cancer cells. 
  • Reducing inflammation. 
  • Healing wounds. 
  • Proper sense of taste and smell.iv 

Wait, It Gets Worse 

As if zinc depletion wasn’t bad enough, higher COalso results in lower plant levels of protein and iron. Humans get 63% of their protein and 81% of their iron from vegetable sources. 

By mid-century, the study shows, this could cause 122 million people to become protein deficient. 

Protein is an essential component of every part of your body. You need it to build and repair tissues.v 

Lack of iron leads to anemia and 

5 Foods High in Zinc 

Don’t fall prey to a lack of zinc. A number of common foods offer significant amounts of the mineral, even with the lower levels caused by climate change. 

The FDA recommends that adults get a daily value (DV) of 15 mg of zinc. According to the National Institutes of Health, you can get:vii 

  • 7 mg of zinc in 3 ounces of beef chuck roast (47% of DV). 
  • 6 mg in an ounce of cashews (11% of DV). 
  • 9 mg in 3 ounces of pork chops (19% of DV). 
  • 4 mg in 3 ounces of lobster (23% of DV). 
  • 74 mg in 3 ounces of oysters (493% of DV). 

You might also consider a zinc supplement. Look for those that contain the zinc gluconate form of the mineral. It is more active than other zinc compounds. Typical doses are up to 50 mg a day for immune support. 

Climate change is a serious problem. But when it comes to nutrition, there are things you can do to reduce the negative effects. 

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