A staggering 80% of families in Delhi and the National Capital Region had at least one member experience health issues connected to air pollution in the previous few weeks. Currently, Delhi-air NCR’s quality falls in between the “extremely poor” and “severe” categories. City dwellers are at the risk of numerous ailments because of the presence of chemicals in the air.

Insulin resistance and the prevalence of type 2 diabetes mellitus are both significantly influenced by air pollution. Type 2 diabetes mellitus risk is significantly raised by exposure to air pollution. Environmental protection authorities are advised to take urgent action to reduce air pollution and, as a result, the prevalence of type 2 diabetes mellitus.

“There is very limited data to understand the link between air pollution and diabetes but recently the popular Lancet journal stated that there is an increased risk of getting diabetes if you are exposed to air pollution especially one with 2.5 particulate matter, research has shown that this has a link with an increased risk of developing diabetes,” says Dr. B. M. Makkar, Senior Diabetologist, President RSSDI.

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Air pollution caused due to industries and vehicles is one of the major global health hazards that both developed and developing countries are witnessing. In non-communicable diseases, diabetes is one of the top leading causes of death globally.

“Some studies have found that air pollution, majorly industrial pollution, increases the risk of diabetes. What is important to understand is that some pollutants contain such chemicals which if exposed to them for a long time, diabetes and insulin resistance can become worse. Air pollution and metabolic disorders like diabetes are connected and are harmful to the human race. If measures are taken to control air pollution, then it will help in not only reducing the rate of occurrence of metabolic diseases but also preventing respiratory disease and many other medical problems,” says Dr Vasanth Kumar, Senior Consultant- Physician, Apollo Hospital, Hyderabad.

As we know that diabetes incidence and prevalence in our country are increasing more in the urban population, where air pollution is already a major concern, the dots are connecting between air pollution and increasing insulin resistance. If people with diabetes are exposed to air pollution for a long period, it affects the patient both directly and indirectly. It indirectly increases the stress level and affects the diabetic condition. The etiopathogenesis of diabetes is directly linked to an unhealthy lifestyle, lack of physical activity and Vitamin D deficiency,” says Dr Banshi Saboo, Diabetologist.

Since higher air pollution forces people to pause their regular activities such as morning or evening walks, stepping out of the house etc, it gravely impacts people with diabetes and becomes the reason for increasing insulin resistance, diabetes cases and also obesity.

“Long-term exposure to air pollution increases the risk of diabetes in young people as staying indoors is making them obese, increasing insulin resistance and metabolic syndrome. Shortly, you will find air pollution to be the biggest contributor to increasing diabetes cases. It is important to address this particular area when we talk about the prevention of diabetes. If we will be able to control air pollution, then it might regulate growing cases of diabetes too,” adds Saboo.

There is a possibility that if you are exposed to increased pollutants, the chemicals can disrupt the endocrine processes in the body and lead to an increased risk of developing diabetes. We do not have a fixed solution to prevent such conditions that cause diabetes as there is no proof of at what level these pollutants have an impact on diabetes. More research is required but people must avoid any exposure to contamination or pollution as far as possible. This World Diabetes Day, let us take good care of our health and well-being to have enough immunity to fight any conditions caused due to worsened AQI.

Benefits of Deep Breathing and Meditation for Diabetics amidst Pollution

Dr Akhilesh Aggarwal, Director, Aatman Holistic Wellness centre shares how deep breathing exercises can be beneficial.

  1. Deep breathing is a powerful tool to relax the body and mind. It helps to maintain stress levels. Diabetes is considered a lifestyle disorder and has a strong correlation with stress induced by pollution, whenever the person is stressed, sugar levels increase in the blood. Deep breathing improves insulin levels increases metabolism and the blood sugar level comes down. A person feels more relaxed, energetic, confident and the fear of disease also reduces.

2. With Delhi weather right now, deep breathing in outdoors is not encouraged.  Breathing exercises indoors can be as beneficial.

3. Certain plants purify air, keep at least 5-6 such plants inside the living rooms or the dining rooms so that the inside air gets purified through this plants.

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