Air Pollution and Fertility: What is happening
Around 80% of the world population lives in environments that exceed the air quality guideline (AQG) established by the World Health Organization (WHO).
Air pollution is ranked fifth on a list of the most influential factors affecting health worldwide. Most of the damage is believed to be caused by increased levels of inflammation and oxidative stress. Air pollution is also impacting our fertility.
- Studies have shown repeatedly the association between air pollution exposure and reduced fertility. The Nurse’s Health study showed a clear relationship between proximity (closeness) to roadways and particulate matter and infertility.
- More exposure over time may be of greater importance than short-term exposures. The longer you’re around exposed more negative impacts experienced!
- Air pollution has a significant impact on sperm parameters as well as female fertility.
- Air pollutions negatively impact fertilization, implantation in IVF cycles. It is also associated with low birth weight and prematurity.
- Increased levels of air pollution during the perinate period and in early childhood are associated with reduced telomere length in eight-year-olds.
How can we use food to protect against the damages caused by air pollution?
Several intervention studies in humans indicate that nutrients like omega-3 fatty acids and antioxidants may protect against the damage induced by air pollution.
B-complex or multivitamin
A study in elderly adults from the Boston area evaluated the effects of air pollution, gene polymorphisms in one carbon metabolism and dietary intake of methyl nutrients (folate, vitamin B6, vitamin B12 and methionine from food sources) on HRV . Individuals carrying the methylenetetrahydrofolate reductase (MTHFR) C677T CT/TT genotypes, which are also at higher risk of CVD, had a significantly more pronounced decrease in heart rate variability than those carrying the homozygous CC genotype. Finally, in individuals with a higher dietary intake of vitamin B6, vitamin B12, folate and methionine, the negative effect of air pollution on heart rate variability was prevented. Thus, the impact of air pollution can be modulated by genetic variations and dietary intake of micronutrients.
Antioxidants Vitamin C and E
These antioxidants have been shown to protect the body when exposed to particulate matter in the air. When exposed to particulate matter (PM) we tend to see markers of lipid and protein damage increased, and the levels of non-enzymatic antioxidants (vitamin E, GSH, and protein thiols) decreased. The activities of several enzymes involved in the antioxidant defense system (catalase, glutathione peroxidase, glutathione reductase, and glutathione s-transferase) are impaired, however, the activity of SOD is increased. Supplementation with vitamin E and C helps to decrease markers of lipid and protein damage and improved both enzymatic and non-enzymatic antioxidant defenses.
One of the most potent natural ligands for Nrf2 is sulforaphane, found in cruciferous vegetables such as broccoli and brussel sprouts. A limited number of human studies have shown that broccoli extracts or sulforaphane can have protective effects against air pollution, via inducing Nrf2-regulated gene expression in the upper airway of human subjects.
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