Biology Health

Diabetes: dirty air ‘may raise’ insulin resistance risk + fighting oxidative stress

Children’s exposure to air traffic pollution could increase their risk of insulin resistance, which can lead to diabetes in adults, suggests a study in Diabetologia.

German research on 397 10-year-olds found that living close to a major road increased resistance by 7% per 500m.

Air pollutants are known to be oxidisers that can impact on lipids and proteins in the blood.

But some experts say the results should be treated with caution.

The children in the study were invited for blood sampling at the age of 10, and glucose and insulin measurements were taken.

Their level of exposure to traffic pollution was estimated using air pollution figures from 2008-09 for their birth address neighbourhood.

The results were adjusted to take into account birth weight, body mass index (BMI) and exposure to second-hand smoke at home.

The study concluded that levels of insulin resistance were greater in children with higher exposure to air pollution, such as nitrogen dioxide and fine particulate matter.

It also found a larger effect in children with higher BMIs.


Elisabeth Thiering and Joachim Heinrich, who led the research at the German Research Centre for Environmental Health in Neuherberg, said the link between traffic pollution and insulin resistance could be explained.

“Although toxicity differs between air pollutants, they are all considered potent oxidisers that act either directly on lipids and proteins, or indirectly through the activation of intracellular oxidant pathways,” said Dr Heinrich.”Oxidative stress caused by exposure to air pollutants may therefore play a role in the development of insulin resistance.” …

via BBC News – Diabetes: dirty air ‘may raise’ insulin resistance risk.

A quick review of oxidative stress from wikipedia:

Oxidative stress reflects an imbalance between the systemic manifestation of reactive oxygen species and a biological system’s ability to readily detoxify the reactive intermediates or to repair the resulting damage. Disturbances in the normal redox state of cells can cause toxic effects through the production of peroxides and free radicals that damage all components of the cell, including proteins, lipids, and DNA. Further, some reactive oxidative species act as cellular messengers in redox signaling. Thus, oxidative stress can cause disruptions in normal mechanisms of cellular signaling.

In humans, oxidative stress is thought to be involved in the development of cancer,[1] Parkinson’s disease, Alzheimer’s disease,[2] atherosclerosis, heart failure,[3] myocardial infarction,[4][5] fragile X syndrome,[6] Sickle Cell Disease,[7] lichen planus,[8] vitiligo,[9] autism,[10] and chronic fatigue syndrome.[11] However, reactive oxygen species can be beneficial, as they are used by the immune system as a way to attack and kill pathogens.[12] Short-term oxidative stress may also be important in prevention of aging by induction of a process named mitohormesis.[13]


What are the best ways to reduce oxidative stress? Here’s an interesting paper on the subject:

The reduction of oxidative stress could be achieved in three levels: by lowering exposure to environmental pollutants with oxidizing properties, by increasing levels of endogenous and exogenous antioxidants, or by lowering the generation of oxidative stress by stabilizing mitochondrial energy production and efficiency. Endogenous oxidative stress could be influenced in two ways: by prevention of ROS formation or by quenching of ROS with antioxidants. However, the results of epidemiological studies where people were treated with synthetic antioxidants are inconclusive and contradictory. Recent evidence suggests that antioxidant supplements (although highly recommended by the pharmaceutical industry and taken by many individuals) do not offer sufficient protection against oxidative stress, oxidative damage or increase the lifespan. The key to the future success of decreasing oxidative-stress-induced damage should thus be the suppression of oxidative damage without disrupting the wellintegrated antioxidant defense network. Approach to neutralize free radicals with antioxidants should be changed into prevention of free radical formation. Thus, this paper addresses oxidative stress and strategies to reduce it with the focus on nutritional and psychosocial interventions of oxidative stress prevention, that is, methods to stabilize mitochondria structure and energy efficiency, or approaches which would increase endogenous antioxidative protection and repair systems.

Yoga and Meditation, some say, are great weapons against oxidative stress:

Most people have heard of antioxidants. Not many have heard of oxidative stress. This type of stress in caused when the cellular functioning of the body breaks down due to poor diet, lack of exercise, drinking alcohol, being exposed to smoke, and other environmental toxins, as well as internal toxicity created by the metabolic process. Oxidative stress can cause a number of diseases, including heart problems, arthritis, sagging skin and other degenerative diseases. While we all need oxygen to survive, oxidative stress, we could do without! …

Yoga and meditation have been shown to reduce free radical count, which leads to arthritis and heart disease, as well as other diseases in numerous studies. Many postures in yoga aim at reducing toxic build up in the body, and this includes free radicals consumed in our diets and that we are exposed to through the environment, but also those created by our own, natural metabolic process. Slow, mindful postures can also burn oxygen more slowly, and not burn up glucose, which is what normal exercise does. Furthermore, when meditation is added, the mental and metabolic processes are slowed so that less free radicals are produced and more are eliminated from the body through a regular, deep and relaxed breathe. This happens primarily through reducing the natural inflammatory reaction of the body.

I’m currently using a special sheet with wire fibers that is connected to a grounded electrical outlet. The idea behind this is that sleeping grounded reduces oxidative stress by allowing electrical current to flow back to the earth.

The sheet feels very smooth, you can’t tell there are metal fibers in it. There may be nothing to it, but after reading the book and considering how it might work, I decided to try it for a while.

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