Researchers have examined the link between air pollution and health for several decades. Research reveals that long-term exposure to air pollution can lead to physical changes in the brain, as well as learning and memory problems and even depression.
In 2008, a study published in the journal Brain and Cognition examined the link between air pollution and the brain functioning of children and dogs. The researchers conducted their study on children living in Mexico City and in a city with low pollution. Children underwent psychometric testing and MRI scans. Of the children living in Mexico City, 57 percent showed cognitive damage both in mental testing and in brain scans. The study researchers concluded that air pollution may contribute to cognitive delays and defects in children.
In 2011, a study published in Molecular Psychiatry found a link between air pollution and memory loss and depression. In this study, researchers examined the effects of air pollution on mice. Mice that were exposed to greater amounts of air pollution were more likely to have memory problems, mental problems, and depression. Researchers believe that similar effects can happen in humans.
Two studies published in the Archives of Internal Medicine in 2012 found that air pollution has negative effects on cognitive performance in both the short-term and the long-term. In these studies, it was found that pollution particles get into the brain and cause inflammation. This inflammation contributes to a faster onset of dementia and Alzheimer’s disease by increasing the the deposition of beta amyloid plaques. The researchers found that in these studies, older women who were exposed to higher levels of pollution had a cognitive age that reported two years older for every increase in 10 micrograms per liter of pollution. The greater the amount of pollution, the faster and more severe was the memory loss.
In 2013, a study conducted by the Andrus Gerontology Center and Survey Research Center examined the links between traffic-related air pollution and children’s ADHD symptoms. After adjusting for other factors, the researchers found that children who were exposed to the highest levels of traffic pollution had significantly increased Hyperactivity T-scores placing them in the “at risk” category for ADHD.
In 2014, Andrus Gerontology Center and Survey Research Center also examined the effects of vehicle exhaust and air pollution on older adults. According to data from the researchers, air pollution may hasten cognitive decline in adults. The study researchers stated, “…there is growing evidence that fine particulate matter air pollution affects brain health and development.”
How to Prevent Air Pollution
Damage to Individuals living in densely populated areas are at highest risk for high levels of air pollution. The best way to avoid outdoor air pollution is to watch the Air Quality Index (AQI), released by the EPA.
10 Most Polluted Cities of India
Half of the world’s 20 most polluted cities are in India, said a World Health Organization report. Here is the list:
Avoid indoor pollution by keeping the air circulated indoors as much as possible. Lack of ventilation allows air pollutants to build up indoors (particularly from heaters and wood stoves during the winter). Try to remove as many sources of indoor air pollution from your home as possible.
According to NASA, Following 4 powerful Air Purifying Plants:
- Mother-in-Law’s Tongue (Sansevieria trifasciata)
- Money Plant (Epipremnum aureum)
- Peace Lily (Spathiphyllum)
- Bamboo Palm (Chrysalidocarpus lutescens)
You can also watch following TED Talk which helps you to grow fresh air.
Other air quality improvement tips include:
- Vacuum several times a week with a vacuum that has a HEPA filter
- Wash bedding, curtains, and other fabric often
- Open a few windows every day for at least five minutes to promote air circulation
- Keep plants indoors to absorb air pollutants
- Don’t wear shoes indoors
- Don’t allow smoking indoors
- Use all non-toxic cleaning products
- Switch to an eco-friendly dry cleaner
- Keep house and furnace filters clean
- Don’t store paint, chemicals, and solvents in the house or garage
- Make sure all appliances are properly ventilated
- Discourage mold by using ventilation in bathrooms and fixing leaks and drainage problems
Eat for Better Memory
You will not be able to stop all forms of air pollution. Filtering the air and bringing in plants can only help so much. This is why it is important to provide your body with the tools it needs to protect your memory from the inside out. Luckily, the right foods can have a protective effect on the brain and your cognitive health.
Combine a healthy diet with physical and mental exercise to keep your brain as healthy as possible throughout life.
Healthy Brain Foods
In general, any food that is sustainably raised and comes from nature will benefit your brain. Staying away from foods like processed fats, junk food, high amounts of sugar, empty carbs, and other unhealthy foods will benefit the brain in numerous ways. However, if you are looking for specific foods to boost brain power, Health.com has a few recommendations:
Healthy Foods for Memory
Foods rich in vitamin E: Nut oils, olive oil, nuts and seeds, orange vegetables.
Berries: Berries contain antioxidants that can help prevent the build-up of contaminants in the brain that can contribute to memory loss, such as plaque.
Dark leafy greens: Dark greens contain a nice mix of vitamin E and B vitamins as well as brain-boosting minerals.
Fish: Fish contain healthy omega-3 fats which are essential for brain health. Many fish also contain B vitamins which are beneficial for memory.
Supplements to Boost Cognitive Function
If you want a little more brain-boosting power in addition to eating a healthy diet and regular exercise, these supplements have been show to benefit the brain and memory in clinical studies.
Omega 3: Omega 3 is absolutely essential to brain health. According to Web MD, a higher omega-3 fat intake is linked with a reduced risk for developing Alzheimer’s disease.
B Vitamins: According to Harvard Health, vitamin B12, B9, and B6 are the most beneficial for memory and brain health. Supplementing with these B vitamins may prevent mental deterioration and prevent some of the damaging side effects of air pollution.