How Air Pollution Can Lead To Weight Gain

I just read a study that stunned me.

It suggested that the air we breathe is making us fat.

A researcher from Duke University placed two groups of rats in separate chambers.

One group was exposed to Beijing’s super toxic air. That city has some of the worst air pollution in the world. The second group breathed filtered air.

The two groups ate exactly the same diet.

After 19 days, the rats exposed to the air pollution were 18% fatter.

Their LDL levels were 50% higher and their triglycerides were 46% higher. This indicates high levels of fat in their blood. To make matters worse, their lungs were 25% heavier and their livers weighed 16% more — a clear sign of inflammation.1

I wanted to know more, so I looked into other studies linking air pollutants to obesity.

An Ohio State researcher exposed groups of mice to different kinds of city conditions. These included smoke, smog, car fumes and more.

After 10 weeks, all the mice had a dramatic increase in belly fat. Belly fat is a key indicator of heart disease, diabetes, high blood pressure, cancer and mortality.2

A Swedish study measuring human fat mass found that people with the most pollutants in their blood were 10.6 pounds fatter than those with less pollution in their blood.3

Obesity linked to air pollution is a 21st century problem. Our ancestors certainly didn’t worry about poisonous air.

Today, 160 million Americans live in areas with dangerous levels of air pollution.4

Persistent organic pollutants (POPs) are non-biodegradable compound that stay in the atmosphere forever. Even if you choose to live on a mountaintop or a deserted island, wind and water currents would guarantee these pollutants soon found their way to you.

Some of the nastiest POPs include:

  • BPA – polycarbonate plastics found in water bottles and other food containers.
  • PCBs – these are all over your house… in paint, wiring, old fluorescent fixtures and sealants like caulk.
  • PBDE – a flame retardant used in fabrics, furniture foam and some appliances.
  • PFOS – used in nonstick pots and pans, stain-resistant products, carpets and upholstery.
  • Atrazine – banned in Europe, but used in the U.S. in parks and on Big Agra crops.

Other common pollutants are heavy metals, noxious gases and tobacco smoke. These pollutants settle deep in your skin and organs, changing the way your body and your metabolism function. And metabolic dysfunction leads to obesity.

How Do Pollutants Cause Obesity?

These environmental toxins scramble your hormone signals. This tricks your fat cells into storing more fat. Your pancreas starts to secrete too much insulin. Over time, high insulin levels lead to weight gain and type 2 diabetes.

I recommend a daily detox drink to get the poison out of your body. It’s easy to make at home. It combines powerful, natural detoxifiers — lemon, cilantro and dandelion greens — that help your body eliminate toxins.

  • Lemon – the peels are packed with d-limonene, an antioxidant that activates enzymes in your liver to eliminate any non-organic compounds from your body.
  • Cilantro – known for spicing up Mexican food, this herb binds to toxins, loosening them from your tissues and removing them from your body.
  • Dandelion greens – the leaves are natural diuretics. They make you urinate more frequently so toxins are flushed from your kidneys and urinary system. Dandelion greens also help you lose weight and reduce your blood pressure.

Detoxifying Green Drink Recipe

• 1 whole lemon (unpeeled) • ¼ cup of filtered tap water
• ¼ cup of cilantro • ¼ cup of spinach
• 4 heads of broccoli with stems • ¼ cup of arugula
• ¼-½ apple • 6 stalks of dandelion greens
• 1/16th piece of turmeric • 4 baby carrots
• ¼ cup of coconut water • ½ cup of ice

To Your Good Health,

Al Sears, MD

Al Sears, MD, CNS

1. Wei Y et al. “Chronic exposure to air pollution particles increases the risk of obesity and metabolic syndrome: findings from a natural experiment in Beijing.” FASEB. 2016. DOI: 10.1096/fj.201500142
2. Qinghua S. “Ambient air pollution exaggerates adipose inflammation and insulin resistance in a mouse model of diet-induced obesity.” Circulation. 2009 Feb 3; 119(4).
3. Ronn M., et. al. “Circulating levels of persistent organic pollutants associate in divergent ways to fat mass measured by DXA in humans.” Chemosphere. 2011.
4. “State of the air.” American Lung Association. 2015.