We know that pollutants cause damage to our environment, but now research has found that pollutants may be contributing to type 2 diabetes and obesity. “Studies have shown that there is a correlation in glucose levels with persistent organic pollutants (POPs) found in human serum and adipose tissue, which ultimately leads to diabetes,” says Diabetes in Control.

POPs are found everywhere and include pesticides, solvents and polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs). Because these pollutants don’t break down, or biodegrade, they have the potential to accumulate in our tissue. Research found that obese people had higher levels of POPs in their tissue than those of a healthy weight.

Research in Belgium examined the link between pollutants and the markers of glucose metabolism and body composition. “They found higher levels of POPs in participants who were obese, particularly in those with high visceral (intra-abdominal) fat mass — the type of central adiposity that is strongly linked to cardiovascular disease and type 2 diabetes,” says the American Diabetes Association. “Additionally, they detected a positive correlation between high blood glucose levels and total body levels of POPs. This link was significant, even when statistically correcting for known risk factors, such as body mass index, age, family history of diabetes and physical activity level.”

Lower Your Toxic Burden

While we can’t completely avoid contact with pollutants in our daily lives, there are some steps you can take to help limit your exposure and fight back against pollutants.

Antioxidants fight against free radicals and toxins in your body, and are easily obtainable through the foods we eat. Foods high in antioxidants include:
- Blueberries
- Red kidney beans
- Cranberries
- Prunes
- Apples

Know your area's air quality before exercising or spending long amounts of time outdoors. When the air quality is unhealthy, try staying indoors or limit your time outdoors. Early morning air is typically cleaner; if you exercise outdoors, try going out earlier in the day.

Stop smoking indoors or altogether. When you smoke indoors, the lingering smoke can be harmful to you and others in the room. Smoking allows hundreds of toxins to enter your body and can contribute to many chronic illnesses.

To learn more:

How to Quit Smoking For Good
Super Antioxidants: Blueberries and Cherries Recipes
How Morning Exercise Benefits Diabetes