How Can Air Pollution Compromise Your Gut Health?

How Can Air Pollution Compromise Your Gut Health?

How Can Air Pollution Compromise Your Gut Health?

Air pollution, caused primarily by emissions from coal- and oil-burning power plants and industrial processes, poses a grave health threat. It has been linked to respiratory conditions as well as poor gut health.

Researchers from the University of Colorado Boulder have recently conducted a ground-breaking study that suggests exposure to air pollution could alter gut microbiota.

They discovered that higher ozone pollution concentrations caused significant, adverse impacts on the gut microbiome as well as changes in microbial diversity as well as higher concentrations of microbes associated with obesity.

Changes to gut microbiomes due to air pollution have been linked with an increased risk of allergies, obesity, diabetes, and other chronic illnesses.

To learn more about how air pollution can compromise your gut health, continue reading.

What Is Gut Microbiota?

Your gut is home to trillions of microbes that perform various important functions. This community of bacteria is known as your gut microbiota. It includes all manner of beneficial organisms which aid in digesting certain foods, preventing harmful bacteria from attaching themselves to intestinal walls, controlling blood sugar, and more.

Notably, your microbiome can shift based on multiple factors, including diet, medication use, and family genes. A high-fiber diet, in particular, causes fermentation within the intestines which releases short-chain fatty acids (SCFA), thereby improving the balance of gut bacteria. To increase fiber in your diet, we recommend these supplements.

Link between Air Pollution and the Gut Microbiome

Dirtier air has long been associated with breathing difficulties like asthma, as well as contributing to numerous chronic diseases, including cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and Alzheimer’s.

However, recent studies show that dirty air can also affect your gut health. Our gut contains trillions of microorganisms known as gut bacteria that influence many aspects of health, ranging from immune regulation to brain development.

Scientists from the University of Colorado Boulder conducted a recent study that demonstrated how exposure to air pollutants affects your gut microbiome in various ways. Researchers tested stool samples taken from 101 young adults living in Southern California as part of this project.

Scientists employed advanced genetic testing to analyze participants’ microbial populations. After controlling for potential confounders such as age, sex, Hispanic ethnicity, BMI, the season of visit, energy intake, and macronutrient consumption, they discovered that exposure to air pollutants significantly affected the diversity levels of participants’ microbiomes.

Ozone had the biggest effect on microbial diversity, accounting for 11% of the overall variation in community composition. Individuals exposed to higher concentrations of ozone had less diverse gut microbiota and more bacteria associated with obesity, according to scientific reports.

Airborne pollution has the ability to have serious ramifications on gut health. According to studies, pollution disrupts the immune function’s ability to fight off bacteria and makes your GI tract more permeable, potentially increasing symptoms associated with digestive health conditions like IBS and Crohn’s Disease.

These findings indicate that air pollution affects gut microbiota by altering how food is metabolized and changing which bacteria exist within it. Further investigation may help find solutions to reduce its adverse effect on human health.

How Could Dirty Air Be Affecting Your Gut Health?

Air pollution can have a devastating impact on your gut health. Particles produced from traffic, soot, dust, and chemicals can alter the bacteria living within your microbiome and change its makeup drastically. Here is how dirty air affects your gut health.

Inflammatory Intestinal Disorders

Inflammatory intestinal disorders are a group of medical conditions that cause inflammation in the digestive tract. People living with the inflammatory intestinal disorder tend to have a different gut microbiome than healthy individuals do, consisting of less beneficial bacteria and an increase in harmful strains, which could contribute to chronic inflammation in their intestines. Scientists have also discovered that air pollution can influence our inflammatory responses, thereby leading to inflammatory intestinal disorders.

Ulcerative Colitis

Ulcerative colitis is an autoimmune condition in which your immune system overreacts to normal bacteria found in your body. Moreover, leading to inflammation in both your colon (large intestine) and rectum. Dirty air has been linked with an increase in inflammatory bowel diseases like ulcerative colitis. Researchers from Harvard School of Public Health suggest that exposure to pollutants may wreak havoc with gut microbes. Moreover, weakening them further and rendering them less resistant to steroids or other anti-inflammatory medicines.

Crohn’s Disease

Crohn’s disease is an inflammatory condition of your GI tract. The inflammation arises when your immune system inadvertently attacks normal bacteria found within your intestines. Moreover, causing chronic inflammation, ulceration, and thickening of bowel walls. Crohn’s Disease can impact any part of your digestive tract but typically affects only your small intestine or colon (rectum). Research has linked this disease with air pollution. The particles from air pollution can alter your gut microbiome leading to inflammation.

Reducing Air Pollution Could Improve Gut Health

People living in areas with high air pollution levels tend to experience higher rates of inflammatory bowel disease (IBD). It is an immune response that causes damage to the digestive tract lining. Our gut has an inbuilt response that activates when exposed to pollutants, prompting inflammation.

Reducing air pollution can help to improve gut health. For indoors, it is best to use air purifiers to reduce particulate matter. Apart from that, it is wise to wear a mask when going outdoors to reduce the impact of air pollution. These simple tips can help you to avoid gut inflammation problems.


Breathing dirty air takes an enormous toll on gut bacteria, raising risks for obesity, diabetes, and other GI disorders, according to University of Colorado Boulder research. Pollution particles may interfere with your immune system’s interactions with trillions of bacteria that reside in your gut. Thereby, increasing inflammatory cytokines that could create digestive issues. Breathing pollution also worsens symptoms in people already diagnosed with illnesses like IBS, Crohn’s disease, or ulcerative colitis. So, if you are concerned about your gut health, take measures to reduce air pollution.