How to get some fresh air this summer—and avoid being overwhelmed by pollution

A century ago, people with tuberculosis or other lung diseases were advised to go on an airy mountain retreat, where they could get plenty of fresh air and sunshine.

Naturopaths called it the nature cure. And these fresh “air baths” and “sun baths,” (not to mention actual fresh water baths) were credited with healing as many as half of all people with lung diseases.

But of course, modern medicine wanted to treat the other half — and developed antibiotics for the purpose…while leaving behind the natural healing methods. (Sound familiar?) Fortunately, there’s some good news. A trio of recent studies may breathe some new life into fresh-air nature cures.

The first study shows how you can actually thrive outside in today’s toxic world. Researchers discovered that just a few B vitamins a day can protect you from the health problems caused by air pollution.

And a pair of studies shows that getting outside in the mountains — or just away from urban light pollution — for as little as a couple nights can improve your sleep for weeks afterward.

I’ll tell you more about those studies in a moment, but first, let’s look at how humans have evolved to breathe fresh — and not-so-fresh — air.

How the nature cure became polluted

I am old enough to remember when everyone still recommended going out and getting some fresh air when you weren’t feeling well.

The theory was if you were living inside a poorly ventilated house or dwelling, oxygen levels would decrease and carbon dioxide, as well as other unhealthy gases and chemicals, would increase. Going outside would provide a respite from indoor air pollution.

But now, there’s pollution both indoors and outdoors. So even if you’re fortunate enough to have a doctor who hasn’t been seduced by big pharma and still believes in the nature cure, the outside air you breathe will likely be more fetid than fresh.

100 million years of oxygen evolution

Of course, humans and our need for oxygen are a relatively new occurrence on Earth. Millions of years ago, our atmosphere used to have much more carbon dioxide, which supported earth’s abundant plant life.

Plants convert carbon dioxide to oxygen through photosynthesis. In fact, some scientists think it took 100 million years for plants to make enough oxygen in the atmosphere to support the emergence of animal life from the oceans to the land 300 million years ago.

Plants were the terrestrial environment when animal life first emerged onto the planet’s dry land — so it is no wonder (or perhaps the greatest wonder of all) that plants provide the foundation of all foods and natural medicines.

One hundred million years of carbon-based plant life went back into the earth, decayed and was compressed over millions of more years into fossil fuels. But for the past two centuries we have also released gases that result from the combustion products of these fossil fuels, contributing to pollution in urban and suburban environments.

What your doctor won’t tell you about your lungs and smoke

The worst urban air pollution has been linked to the equivalent of smoking one pack of cigarettes a day. Indeed, smoking is always the mainstream’s public enemy No. 1 when it comes to lung health.

But the fact is, we are not completely defenseless against smoke from cigarettes or other sources. Humans have been exposed to smoke for a million years or so since the “invention” of fire — living in caves and other closed dwellings around open fires. That’s given our lungs time to develop many enzyme systems that detoxify smoke.

These enzymes include alpha-1 antitrypsin, which I researched in the mid-1970s as a young student investigator on a summer scholarship at City of Hope National Medical Center in California (where they know something about air pollution).

Once upon a time, there was real research taking place about why some people are susceptible to lung diseases that are associated with smoke inhalation, while others are not.

But years ago all that came to a screeching halt when the new behavioral-science bureaucrats at the National Cancer Institute made a politically correct decision to funnel virtually all lung research funding into smoking cessation and prevention.

They ignored individual susceptibility (like the fact that the smoke-detoxifying enzymes I mentioned above vary from person to person) and just dumped everyone into the same politically correct, behavioral-control basket. And smokers became the first “basket of deplorables.”

Today that stupid and biased political decision has left two-thirds of victims diagnosed with lung cancer with no options, because the government has nothing else to offer.

But fortunately, there are steps you can take yourself to boost your own natural defenses. Which leads me to the vitamin B study I mentioned earlier.

The simple, safe, pennies-per-day way to protect yourself against air pollution

All of our cells use vitamins and minerals to protect themselves, carry out metabolic reactions, and detoxify chemical substances. But with our depleted foods, diets, lifestyles, and environment, as well as faulty medical advice, it’s no wonder that most people have insufficient levels of the vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients needed for optimal cellular health.

That’s why I was so interested in a new study that claims to be the first to research nutritional interventions people can use to minimize or prevent the adverse effects of air pollution.1

Year after year, decade after decade, the government has spent billions of our dollars on studies about air pollution prevention. This research has spawned entire government-subsidized industries; resulted in reams of printed, tree-killing regulations; and crippled and killed other backbone American industries — costing consumers more hard-earned dollars.

And yet, according to this new clinical trial, everyone can protect themselves from air pollution for just pennies per day! 

All you need is a high-quality vitamin B complex.

B vitamins can fight pollution at the cellular level

The study involved 10 healthy adults who were either given a placebo or a supplement containing 2.5 mg of folic acid (vitamin B9), 50 mg of B6, and 1 mg of B12. The researchers took blood samples from all of the participants, and then exposed them to ambient air pollution.

Blood tests taken after the exposure showed that the pollution affected the participants’ cellular metabolism — including the all-important mitochondrial respiration of oxygen that creates energy and hydration for the cells.

But here’s the really exciting finding. Blood tests from the vitamin B group showed that the supplements actually prevented air pollution from causing these disruptions to cellular metabolism.

Of course, this study looked at just a fraction of the B vitamins. Imagine what you can accomplish with a complete B complex — and all of the other vitamins and minerals that are often missing from our diets.

Encouraging each person to spend pennies per day on nutrients looks like an important part of the answer to air pollution. But the mainstream crony-capitalist government-industrial complex doesn’t like dietary supplements (except calcium and iron — which I’ve told you many times to avoid).

Instead, big government prefers to spend billions of dollars on mostly useless research on air pollution, and promoting federal and state regulations that cost the economy trillions more. Not to mention the “global” air-quality agreements that nobody really has to follow except Americans. Something is very polluted alright, and it isn’t just urban air.

The other type of pollution to avoid

Another great thing about dietary supplements is that you can take a day’s or a week’s supply with you wherever you go. Like camping in the mountains.

In fact, the pair of studies I referred to earlier found that spending the night in the mountains — or even in your backyard — can restore restful sleep.

The first study sent volunteers into the Cache la Poudre Wilderness area in Colorado’s majestic Rocky Mountains for one week without flashlights.2 Not only is the mile-high air free of most air pollutants, but it’s also free of artificial light pollution. Only the planets, stars, and Milky Way galaxy are visible and bright in the night sky.

Researchers measured the volunteers’ melatonin, the hormone that prepares the body for sleep. They found that the campers’ melatonin levels increased almost two hours earlier at the end of the day, and decreased again two hours earlier at the end of night.

The conclusion? Camping away from artificial light pollution reset the study participants’ biological clock to a more normal sleep cycle.

The researchers then conducted a second study to see if melatonin levels would reset over a shorter time period. This time, volunteers spent a weekend in another mountain wilderness area. Their biological clocks shifted 69 percent compared to the week-long campers — leading the researchers to conclude that even a couple days away from light pollution can have a significant impact on sleep.3

Of course, not every insomniac can go camping in the mountains. The researchers suggest increasing your natural light exposure during the day — maybe by taking a long walk or even sitting near a sunny window. And then, decrease your evening light exposure by dimming the lights and turning off electrical devices an hour or two before bedtime.

But if you do go camping this summer, you’ll probably want to enjoy sitting around a campfire. So make sure to pack your B vitamins to help your body safely handle all that smoke.

 

Sources:

1“B vitamins attenuate the epigenetic effects of ambient fine particles in a pilot human intervention trial.” Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2017 Mar 28;114(13):3503-3508.

2“Entrainment of the Human Circadian Clock to the Natural Light-Dark Cycle.” Curr Biol. 2013 Aug 19;23(16):1554-8.

3“Circadian Entrainment to the Natural Light-Dark Cycle across Seasons and the Weekend.” Current Biology , Volume 27 , Issue 4 , 508513.


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