Last week we discussed the 6 Stressors and their impact on our health. Over the coming weeks, we will be focusing on air. How the air around us affects our health, and strategies for reducing the impact of air as a stressor.

What are we breathing?

While resting, we breathe in around 8 litres of air every minute. It is made up of so much more than just oxygen. Unfortunately, much of it is not healthy. In fact, only around 20% of the air that we breathe is actually oxygen[1]. Cleaning up the air we breathe can have a huge impact on our general health and wellbeing.

We are designed to breathe clean air. As a result, everything else is considered a foreign body. These toxins need to be processed through our detoxification pathways. Some people can detoxify toxins on their own. But there are some, such as those with specific gene mutations, who really struggle with this.

We can smell many of the pollutants in the air such as perfumes, cleaning products and car exhaust fumes. However, there are many that we can’t smell. Even though we can’t smell things like dust particles, pollen or mould spores, they can still irritate the airways and cause allergies, asthma or chronic bronchitis.

Bad air and its effects

Detoxifying the pollutants we breathe in from our bodies involves a huge amount of nutrients. The more pollutants we are exposed to, the more nutrients we need to remove them. This can lead to nutrient deficiencies. When we become deficient, our general health and wellbeing begin to suffer.

The same nutrients used by the detoxification process are also used for energy production. If we don’t have enough leftover we start feeling fatigued and lethargic.

As we become more nutritionally deficient, our immune system becomes compromised. A compromised immune system can lead to frequent colds and flu. If left unmanaged, this may cause more serious illnesses. Some recent studies even suggest that air pollution may directly damage brain structures. Continued exposure to pollutants can lead to Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, and stroke[2]. In 2014-15, over 7 million Australians had a chronic respiratory condition including Asthma, Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), hay fever or chronic sinusitis[3].

Chronic lower respiratory diseases and cancer of the trachea, bronchus and lung are the fourth and fifth leading causes of death in Australia[4]. Toxins in the lungs can damage the blood vessels and increase the risk of heart disease[5]. Consequently, the leading cause of death – heart disease, can sometimes be directly linked to respiratory disease.

A change in the air

Most of the air pollutants we are exposed to every day come by choice. For instance, personal care products, perfumes and cleaning products are the sorts of things we can control. Limiting their use or swapping them out for healthier, natural alternatives can have an enormous impact on reducing our overall toxic load.

Next week we will talk more about air, and introduce more strategies for improving our air quality and reducing the toxins affecting our health.


[1] How much oxygen does a person consume in a day?

[2] How much oxygen does a person consume in a day?

[3] The Adverse Effects of Air Pollution on the Nervous System

[4] Australia’s leading causes of death, 2017

[5] Respiratory Infections Linked to Increased Risk of Heart Attack

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