Dementia… in the AIR?
In some parts of the country, it’s so common that you start to get used to it — and that includes my neighbors up in Los Angeles.
It’s those dull gray skies.
It’s not fog. It’s smog.
Don’t get too used to it, my friend, because new research shows how one of the most common air pollutants… one inhaled every single day by nearly half the nation… can wreck your brain and set the stage for dementia.
It’s a form of particulate matter known as PM2.5, and it’s produced by everything from car exhaust to power plants.
Odds are, you have at least some amount of this poison in the air around you right now. For half the population, those levels are higher than what they should be — and, in some cases, MUCH higher.
Now, the new study shows just what it can do to your brain.
Experiments on mice found that PM2.5 damages the neurons in the all-important hippocampus, or the part of the brain where you keep many of your memories.
But this wasn’t just a study on mice.
They also looked at data on more than 3,600 older women living across 48 states to see the real-world effect of pollution on the brain and memory.
They found women living in cities with higher levels of PM2.5 have an 81 percent increased risk of global cognitive decline.
Even worse, they face nearly DOUBLE the risk of dementia and Alzheimer’s disease.
These pollutants can get inside your brain, where your own internal defense system tries to boot them out.
One part of that process, of course, is inflammation.
And if you’re exposed to a little pollution every now and then, it might not matter much.
The junk will get chased out and the inflammation will fade.
But most folks are exposed daily, or almost daily, so the inflammation is constant — and chronic inflammation can cause the damage that leads to cognitive decline and dementia.
Particulate matter also contains trace levels of metals, which are absolutely toxic to your brain.
As scary as that is, you might think there’s nothing you can do about it.
You can’t clean the air, right?
In reality, there are three steps you can take to reduce your exposure and cut the risks that come with it.
First, keep an eye on air quality. In some areas with known pollution, they might tell you the levels during the weather reports. You can also check online on sites such as AirNow.gov.
When the pollution levels rise, stay inside as much as you can.
Second, use a quality air purifier with a HEPA filter at home. Don’t forget to clean or replace the filter regularly.
And third, use plenty of olive oil. Studies show it can fight the damage caused by pollution inside your body, especially in your arteries, and even reduce the inflammation triggered by pollutants.