Eat These Vegetables To Reduce Air Pollution Toxins in Your Body

A new study by University of Delaware researchers discovered that eating more apiaceous vegetables could help mitigate the effects of air pollution.

Toxins from cigarette smoke and air pollution may be absorbed by celery, carrots, parsnips, and parsley.

Air pollution is defined as the release of pollutants into the atmosphere that is harmful to human health and the environment as a whole. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), air pollution causes the death of seven million people per year throughout the globe. Nine out of ten people breathe air that exceeds the WHO’s pollution guideline levels, with those in low- and middle-income nations having it the worst. 

People who are exposed to air pollution suffer from a variety of health problems.  Illnesses such as pneumonia or bronchitis are examples of short-term repercussions. Irritation to the nose, throat, eyes, or skin as well as  Headaches, dizziness, and nausea are all symptoms of air pollution. Air pollution’s long-term consequences can continue for years or even a lifetime. They can even result in a person’s death. 

Luckily, a University of Delaware researcher has identified a strategy to reduce the impact of air pollution on our bodies by increasing our regular consumption of vegetables such as celery, carrots, parsnips, and parsley.

Jae Kyeom Kim, assistant professor of behavioral health and nutrition, investigated how apiaceous vegetables protect the body from the accumulation of acrolein, an irritant to the lungs and skin with a strong unpleasant odor that is abundant in cigarette smoke and automobile exhaust, in a new article published in The Journal of Nutritional Biochemistry.

Kim and his colleagues investigated how apiaceous vegetables, which are rich in phytonutrients, alleviated acrolein-induced toxicities through a series of tests. The findings demonstrated how acrolein-induced oxidative stress might be decreased and its consequences minimized.

Jae Kyeom Kim (left), assistant professor, conducts nutrition research with postdoctoral researcher Jeonghoon Pan. Credit: University of Delaware/ Ashley Barnas

“Kim’s research discovered that apiaceous vegetables supported detoxification through an increase in antioxidant enzyme activity,” Trabulsi said. “The results suggest that apiaceous vegetables may provide protection against acrolein-induced damages and inflammation because, in the liver, the vegetables enhance the conversion of acrolein into a water-soluble acid for bodily excretion.”

The next step was to determine a reasonable dosage amount for humans. Looking forward, Kim plans to integrate human intervention trials.

“When we calculated this, we determined the actual daily calorie amount of apiaceous vegetables for humans is roughly 1 and 1/3 cups per day,” Kim said. “It doesn’t require a high intake to see a difference, and this is an achievable amount in daily life.”

Jae Kyeom Kim, assistant professor of behavioral health and nutrition at the University of Delaware, discusses analyses of vegetable diet interventions with a graduate research assistant. Credit: University of Delaware/ Ashley Barnas

Kim and his team stress the importance of implementing behavioral changes in diet as a solution to combat the buildup of toxicants derived from air pollution.

“Research has identified that it is the totality of nutrients in fruits and vegetables that support beneficial health outcomes, rather than a single nutrient,” Trabulsi said. “Focusing on a healthy whole food diet is more impactful than relying on individual supplements.”

Reference: “Apiaceous vegetables protect against acrolein-induced pulmonary injuries through modulating hepatic detoxification and inflammation in C57BL/6 male mice” by Mersady C. Redding, Jeong Hoon Pan, Young Jun Kim, Mona Batish, Jillian Trabulsi, Jin Hyup Lee and Jae Kyeom Kim, 10 January 2022, The Journal of Nutritional Biochemistry.
DOI: 10.1016/j.jnutbio.2022.108939

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