detoxing with clean air

Purifying the body – or detoxing – is increasingly popular, with 'dry January', juice fasting and various remedies, such as detoxing foot patches. Detoxing has its critics, of course, who argue that the liver and kidneys function quite adequately to remove so-called toxins (whose very existence is debatable) from the body. There is thus no need for special diets or regimes.

Whether or not formal detoxing is necessary, it is surely sensible to supply the body with high quality, nutritious food, with an emphasis on fresh produce, rather than processed products. But, when you are planning a healthy lifestyle, you have to also think about the quality of the air you are breathing in, which is as important for your health as the food you put into your mouth.

We spend up to 90% of our time indoors, whether that be in school, the workplace or home. Levels of indoor air pollution can be up to 10 times higher than they are outdoors, with modern energy-efficient buildings that allows pollution to build up, owing to lack of natural ventilation. Some of the components of indoor air pollution include:

  • House dust mite
  • Traffic pollution from outside (especially if you live near a busy road)
  • Formaldehyde, from new carpet or furniture made from MDF (if the MDF is imported)
  • Volatile organic chemicals emitted from office equipment, like photocopiers
  • Mould spores from damp patches
  • Pollen brought in from outdoors during the summer months
  • Pet dander
  • Nitrogen dioxide and carbon monoxide from cookers and boilers, if these are inadequately maintained.

The World Health Organization attributes as many as 7 million (one in eight) deaths a year to air pollution (indoor and outdoor). Exposure is associated with a number of health problems, including high blood pressure, heart disease, asthma and lung cancer. Therefore, the air you breathe is as important to your health as the food you eat.

There are a number of ways in which you can detox the air around you, as follows:

  • Damp dust every day to get rid of particulate pollution like pet dander and house dust mite which have settled on surfaces.
  • Replace carpet, which is a reservoir for house dust mite and mould spores, with easier-to-clean hard flooring.
  • Vacuum carpet with an allergy vacuum cleaner that has a high efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filter.
  • Use an air purifier fitted with a HEPA filter and an absorbent like charcoal to pull particles and gaseous pollutants out of the air.
  • Tackle any damp spots to get rid of mould spores.
  • Open windows once or twice a week to let some fresh air in.
  • Declutter – get rid of old books, papers and clothes.

Avoid conventional air fresheners – especially to 'cover up' poor air quality. These may contain chemicals that trigger sensitivity reactions in some people. Detoxing with clean air – by improving the air quality in your immediate environment requires a multi-faceted approach. It is well worth making the effort for the sake of your long-term health.