Protect Yourself on Bad Air Quality Days, Invite Health Podcast, Episode 662

Protect Yourself on Bad Air Quality Days, Invite Health Podcast, Episode 662

Subscribe Today!

Apple PodcastsGoogle PodcastsiHeartRadioSpotify

Please see below for a complete transcript of this episode.


Hosted by Jerry Hickey, Ph.

*Intro Music*

InViteⓇ Health Podcast Intro: [00:00:04] Welcome to the InViteⓇ Health Podcast, where our degreed health care professionals are excited to offer you the most important health and wellness information you need to make informed choices about your health. You can learn more about the products discussed in each of these episodes and all that Invite Health has to offer at First time customers can use promo code podcast at checkout for an additional 15% off your first purchase. Let’s get started. † [00:00:34]

*Intro Music*

Jerry Hickey, Ph: [00:00:40] There’s been many days where I live out in Long Island, where there’s been poor air quality, a lot of it coming from the fires in Canada. In fact, there were days when New York City and the surrounding areas had the worst air quality on the planet. And, when the air is that bad, it is dangerous for our health. It is dangerous for our health. And that’s really what we’re going to talk about in this podcast episode, How to Protect Yourself on Bad Air Days, because they’re becoming more frequent. You know, one time I thought of bad air days from fires as being just something that you see in Colorado and California and places like that. And then over the past couple of summers, they’ve had raging fires in places like Greece and Spain. And it’s just becoming a yearly issue, it’s becoming perennial. And now we’re experiencing this in the middle of the country. We’re experiencing this up in the Northeast. My mother is retired, of course, well, she’s 92, I would think she would be retired. She’s living in Manheim, Pennsylvania, where it should really be super clean air. And she has a lot of better air quality days because of these fires. So, I want to go into how this air quality affects us. You know, short term, like from these fires or long term, some people live near like these roadways, like I-95, where they they’re exposed to like particles all day. Which particles are bad for us, how they affect us, how it’s measured. You know, they have these air quality standards and what you could do to protect yourself from the salt. Hi, welcome to my episode. Protect Yourself of bad air days. We will go into this. My name is Jerry Hickey. I’m a pharmacist who really specializes in nutrition. I have a big background in nutrition and biochemistry, and I really focus on nutrition because it’s such a frontier and that’s the truth. You can find all of the Invite podcasts for free wherever you listen to podcasts, all those big platforms, all those Apple platforms, etc. You can also go to You can also find Invite in other ways, they’re on Facebook and Instagram and Twitter as Invite Health. And if you go to their website, there’s a lot of info on the website too. So, let’s get into this. So, these Canadian fires have been a real problem. I mean, there’s these huge forests there and it’s hard to get the equipment there and the number of fire-controlled people, etc., and it’s become long lasting. I mean, my air quality today is moderate. It should be clean or where we live, we normally have very clean air, but it’s moderate. Where my mother is in Manheim, Pennsylvania, it’s moderate. So, the fires, the forest fires release these particles and some of them are really tiny. It’s called fine particulate matter. And these are really the dangerous things because these fine particles get into our eyes and our nose and our mouth, and they cause immediate effects, you know, itchy eyes and stinging eyes, and your nose is irritated and your throat’s inflamed. You might even get a sore throat, or if you had GERD, you know, reflux, it might get aggravated, things like that. But they’re also, they’re so tiny, they’re very easily passing from the lungs into the bloodstream and getting pumped up by the heart so they can affect the heart and inflame the heart. And if you have a heart condition, which many people do, it could trigger a heart attack or a stroke. So, there is a way of looking at this. Now, before we go into it, there are hundreds of really super high-quality studies on inhaling air pollution. We’re not talking about eating pollutants in your broccoli and things like that. We’re talking about inhaling pollution and how millions of people die prematurely each year. I mean, there are places like in Pakistan and India and China with terrible air, and I never thought it would be a problem here. But these forest fires are making our air similar to the air, people are breathing in these very toxic environments in China and other Asian countries. Not good, not good, not good. † [00:05:01]

[00:05:02] And the study showed that, you could see the effects of air pollution on the skin causes discoloration of the skin and inflames the skin and increases wrinkling and damage to the skin. Hair loss, believe it or not, you can actually see the effects of pollution on the skin and on hair loss. But internally, it’s triggering lung conditions like a touch of bronchitis and asthma, etc. If you have emphysema, you’re really in trouble. They’ve shown studies, there was this great study in Chicago. They looked at young African American males and they looked at the air quality where these African American males lived. And they saw that the African Americans who lived in areas of Chicago with poor air quality had much worse kidney health than the African American youths who lived in areas with better air quality, so, that was a very interesting study. But there’s a lot of studies showing that air pollution is very toxic. It’s toxic to your lungs, of course, and to your heart and can trigger strokes and heart attacks. But it’s also toxic, to the kidneys, because your kidneys are trying to get rid of a lot of these particles. And so, it’s also toxic to the brain. In fact, they’ve seen that it affects mental health and increases the risk of depression and anxiety. But over long term, it can affect your memory, even increase your risk of Alzheimer’s disease. During the Covid pandemic, there was a Covid pandemic. People with lung conditions who lived in areas with bad air had a bigger risk of dying or wind up on a ventilator in a hospital if they caught a Covid infection. So, we know that these, the air quality is really an issue. So, on my cell phone, you know, I have one of those Apple cell phones I could go into to that weather app. And when you just scroll down a little bit, you’ll see your current air quality, and that’s important. I check it daily, I check my mother’s daily, I check mine daily. And on certain days I tell my wife, hey, let’s not walk the dogs too much. Let’s not go out too much today, because it has been really up and down. I mean, just like the weather changes day to day, your air quality changes here day to day. So, they look at the local air quality and if it’s persistently bad, it’s bad for everyone. But if it’s just once in a while, depends on how bad it is. So, you look at the air quality index, the EPA, the Environmental Protection Agency, developed the air quality index and it is important, and it runs from zero, which is the best air possible to 500. Now, other countries have different ways of measuring the air quality, so they don’t go from 0 to 500. So, you know, if you look at Toronto, maybe they say the air quality is three. That doesn’t mean it’s like beautiful, they have a different way of measuring it. So, it goes from 0 to 500, over 300 is a lot of pollution that you’re breathing in, it’s dangerous. It’s hazardous for everyone. Even like an Olympic athlete who’s 23 years old, peak fitness, eating great, etc. It’s dangerous for them. So, over 300, really dangerous. It’s really going to cause an affect. † [00:08:19]


[00:08:20] So, what’s good air quality? 50 or less is good air quality. Like typically by me, the air quality is between 18 and about 35. So, we have pretty clean air out where I live and the city depends on where you live, it might be a little higher, you know, if you live on Fifth Avenue, with all the traffic there, the air quality is going to be poorer than if you live in some other part of Brooklyn or Queens or something where there’s less traffic. So, the air quality varies literally from neighborhood to neighborhood. 51 to 100 is moderate air quality, so, it’s acceptable for most of us, but it could be a risk for some people with severe conditions like somebody with severe heart disease or heart failure or, you know, they just were through chemotherapy, and they have terrible cancer, or they have lung diseases like emphysema. But it can slightly irritate your eyes and your sinuses if you’re out there too long, between 101 and 150, it’s unhealthy for people who are in sensitive groups. So, I include the elderly in this because our antioxidant, we’ll go into this a little while. Our ability to detoxify chemicals and our antioxidant defense systems have declined a bit. So, I would put the elderly in this category where if it’s between 101, 150, they have to be careful. But I would include people with high blood pressure, heart failure and heart disease, asthma. Now over 150, it becomes unhealthy for the general public, between 151 and 200, public policy, not a good air day, not a good air day for everybody, even those who are physically fit and young, not good. Between 201 and 300 is very unhealthy for everyone, and over 300 is hazardous. I mean, you’re in, you’re in, it’s almost like you could touch the air. Like the air is orange and brown. You know, when it’s 250 or 300, you could see it in the air. I remember with the 911 when the World Trade Center collapsed, the sky, I was in New York, The sky was orange and brown going from Manhattan, you saw going to Brooklyn, you saw going to New Jersey. I mean, I couldn’t believe it. New York was like that recently from these Canadian fires. So, what’s included in this air quality index, AQI? It’s the AQI, the air quality index. Well, fine particulate matter, which is the most dangerous fine particulate matter, the particles are so tiny, it’s very easy for them to get into your bloodstream and damage the brain or the kidneys or the liver or, you know, the heart, etc., inflame your blood vessels. So, fine particulate matter is very dangerous. Ground level ozone, now, ozone up in the sky at a very high altitude is good. You want the ozone layer to protect us from the sun, from the radiation, from the sun, the ultraviolet radiation. But when there’s too much ozone on the ground, it becomes toxic because it inflames us. These things work by inflaming us and the inflammation kills our cells and triggers diseases. They also look at sulfur dioxide, carbon monoxide, nitrogen dioxide. So, these are really clearly dangerous chemicals when you’re inhaling them at a high level, not you know, the body can handle low levels. I mean, most bodies can handle low levels, but high levels become really dangerous. † [00:11:56]

[00:11:58] Now, fires release all kinds of particles, and the biggest health risk from the fire, from the smoke is these fine particulate matters. They’re so microscopic, they’re so tiny, like I said, they easily get into the lungs, and they easily dissolve into the blood and get pumped by the heart all over the body, so they’re inflaming the lungs and the heart right away. So, your first symptom from these particles, you know, your eyes are burning, your nose is runny, maybe you get a little bit of a sore throat, but they can trigger bronchitis. You know, the bronchi leading into the lungs can get severely inflamed. It’s going to make it hard to breathe. For some people, it’s really dangerous. Or they can trigger inflammation of the heart that can lead to a heart attack in people prone to it or in the lungs. So, what can you do? Well, first of all, stay in, stay in the house. If you don’t have to go out on a really bad air day, just don’t go out. And if you have to go out, wear a good mask because that will make a difference. You might feel silly, it might look silly, but you want to protect your heart and your lungs and your kidneys and your brain. I don’t care about looking silly. Obviously, if you see my closet, clothes I wear, I don’t mind wearing a mask. So, if you can try to stay in on bad air days. But, when the smoke was really bad from the Canadian fires, I could smell it in my house. So, what do you do then? If you have an air filter, put the air filter on where you’re sitting, like in your bedroom, in your den and your kitchen, and your dining room, wherever you’re sitting, put the air filter on. It takes time to clean the air. But it can really help. When I lived in Manhattan, no matter where you live in Manhattan, the air is dirty. I mean, you wash your windows and they’re dirty again the next day. I mean, there’s so much soot in Manhattan. I had air filters in every room. Now, of course, eat your vegetables and your fresh fruits. There are some vegetables that are pretty good antioxidants, why are antioxidants important? Well, antioxidants prevent the kind of inflammation that the pollutants that the stuff in the smoke from the wildfire’s triggers. So, it stops the inflammation that can occur in your eyes and your brain and all. So, you want to look at the high antioxidant foods, curry, blueberries, blackberries, fruits like that, apples, oranges, broccoli and spinach and kale and vegetables like that. They’re good antioxidants. You want to make sure you eat fish, good quality fish, fresh fish, like a nice piece of salmon or flounder or something, because the fish oils reduce inflammation, so they’re part of that. † [00:14:44]

[00:14:45] So, it’s really important to take supplements when you have bad air. Now, I’m going to start with a supplement called NAC. There were thousands and thousands and thousands of human studies on NAC. First of all, NAC is used to break up mucus and people with cystic fibrosis, people with cystic fibrosis, inherit genes that make their phlegm too thick, and they can’t breathe is very seriously dangerous. So, NAC is used in inhalers to break up the phlegm for people with cystic fibrosis. So, because it’s used as a drug, even though it’s a supplement, it’s a natural thing, it’s kind of natural, I’ll explain that. It’s used as a drug, as an inhaler. They also have done studies where people inhale the NAC before they have high powered radiation studies to help protect their kidneys. And if you really drill down in the data, it makes a difference. Inhaling the NAC or taking NAC. The problem with the radiation that you would drink, or you were injected with for these diagnostic tests, last in the body for six days. So, you really have to take the NAC two or three times a day with food for six days. So, what is NAC? By the way, there’s a lot of studies on mental health with NAC, even like helping with addiction, there are studies on eye health with NAC, there are studies on lung health, tons of studies on lung health with NAC and we’ll go into that. Studies on liver health and kidney health. I mean, it’s just an amazing supplement, women’s health for their female organs, there’s a number of studies. So, NAC, cysteine, is an amino acid, amino acids make up protein and cysteine is great for the human body because it breaks down chemicals and gets rid of them. And it also creates the mother of all antioxidants called glutathione. Glutathione is just amazingly protective for humans and will go more into glutathione in a minute. But the problem is the amount of glutathione from person to person can vary by 50%. So, if you’re lower in glutathione naturally, because of your genetic makeup, pollutants are going to be more dangerous to you. I mean, that’s just the way it is. When you look at species of animals that live longer, they always have higher levels of glutathione because you have to protect them from the environment. So, Glutathione is an enzyme system, antioxidant that is highly protective in the human body. Yet the amount of glutathione varies from person to person. But it’s simple to raise glutathione just by taking NAC. NAC is the rate limiting factor for creating Glutathione. So, why can’t you take cysteine? You can, but it’s unstable, so it could become bad. But when they make it NAC, they add an acetyl group, a very simple group to the cysteine that stabilizes the cysteine, and it last forever and it becomes a really good player for human health. † [00:17:36]

[00:17:38] So, why would NAC be great for protecting you from pollution? So, you know, so people live in a polluted environment all the time, maybe they’re near factories, maybe there’s a lot of automobile traffic near them, vehicular traffic of all sorts. I mean, that’s the fine particulate matter that you inhale that’s very dangerous. Well, the NAC, the research shows it opens up your blood vessels leading to your heart. So, the heart gets more oxygen and takes a load off the heart a little bit. But it’s also strongly protective for the lungs. There’s been a number of studies and people bronchiectasis and bronchitis and asthma and situations like this where NAC calms the lungs. The first study I read on the lungs came from Italy. I read this study in 19, the late 1980s, about 1987, and they took rats. This was in Italy, and it was a part of Italy that had a lot of truck traffic, which is also the part of Italy where a lot of people died from COVID because their lungs were inflamed. It’s in central Italy. There’s a highway system running up the center of Italy and there’s a lot of truck pollution there. And people were dying much more commonly from COVID-19 in those areas because they had respiratory conditions already. So, they took rats in this area, and they concentrated down the air pollution. They took like months’ worth of air pollution. They concentrated down and they shot it into the lungs of rats. If they put NAC in the chow, it was really helping protect the rats from lung cancer and tumors in the lungs and, you know, all kinds of lung diseases, etc. It really meant something. It was, that’s what started me often looking at NAC research, that study about 1987 from Italy. There are many studies that NAC is great for the brain. When I had my pharmacies and people used to come in all the time and their kid was addicted to heroin or some people even get addicted to marijuana, believe it or not, or alcohol or smoking, they need help quitting smoking. I would always say add some NAC to whatever the doctor’s doing. It won’t affect the drug, but it’s really good for the addictive break. It helps calm down the brain. It helps you get off what you are addicted to. They’ve also shown that NAC is a powerful protector in the brain, I get into that a minute because that goes back to that glutathione we were talking about. Glutathione shields the kidneys. Glutathione is amazing for the liver. It’s amazing for the liver. So, all these organs that are affected by pollution are protected by NAC, the brain, the eyes, the lungs, the heart, the kidneys, the liver. † [00:20:15]

[00:20:17] So, why is NAC so good? Well, first of all, directly, it attaches to heavy metals like mercury, lead, arsenic, things like that and removes them from the body, that’s one thing. Second thing, it’s a powerful antioxidant in its own right. Third of all, it increases the level of the mother of all the antioxidants called Glutathione. Once you increase glutathione, it sticks around for like 48 hours to protect you, so, that’s rather amazing. Sort of like vitamin C protects you for about 6 hours. You know, glutathione works for like two days. Doesn’t mean you don’t need vitamin C; vitamin C interacts with glutathione. So, it’s still that’s part of that whole available pool of antioxidants that you need to protect your entire body. You know, vitamin C, vitamin E, selenium, zinc, all these things are important. So, the NAC creates glutathione. That’s a powerful shield for your brain, your eyes, your kidneys, your liver or just tissues all over the body. But it’s also involved with breaking down chemicals. There’s something called phase two detoxification. So, typically there’s Phase one detoxification and Phase 2. Phase 1, you’re breaking things down, you’re breaking things down, you’re hydroxylating them and breaking them down, doing things like that so that you can make them more water soluble so you could get rid of them in your urine, so you could expel them when you urinate, when you pee. If you don’t know what urinating means, that means peeing. And the problem is certain things become activated and become much more dangerous by phase one. So, for those things, phase two finishes off the detoxification process. Phase two is highly dependent on glutathione, there’s a number of pathways, at least seven that require glutathione for their activity as glutathione peroxidation. So, glutathione peroxidase is getting rid of these chemicals. There are other things in phase two detoxification, most of them being amino acids. So, phase two breaks down some very dangerous species of chemicals that are highly reactive, that are very dangerous, and you need more glutathione when you’re exposed to all this toxicity from a burning fire, from inhaling that smoke. So, simply taking NAC, always take NAC with food because it can upset your stomach a tiny bit, but it’s well worth the risk. You take it with food, it’s not going to upset the stomach. † [00:22:33]

[00:22:35] Now, along with NAC, you need vitamins and minerals to interact with that like vitamin C and vitamin E, but you also need selenium and riboflavin. Riboflavin is a vitamin. Vitamin B2, riboflavin and selenium is a micro mineral. You only need a tiny bit of it for good activity. You don’t need a lot of it. You need like 50 micrograms, that’s plenty, 100 micrograms, that’s plenty, is tiny amount, it’s a spec. When you get your multivitamin, you’re getting the riboflavin and the selenium and these keep the glutathione recycled, it keeps on working. So, they’re important. But the multivitamin also has a whole bunch of things that are needed for phase one detoxification, things like zinc and methyl, a type of folic acid that’s actually very active. Folate is named after foliage because of the ubiquitous in the plant kingdom. But it’s hard to get out of plants, it’s a very important vitamin. First of all, in pregnant women, it helps prevent birth defects in their offspring. Like birth defects to the skull, and the face and the spine. But it also helps protect us for the first several steps right before cancer, like initiation and promotion. You need folate for that. Most multivitamins use folic acid for a lot of people it works, but for some people it doesn’t work because they can’t transform it, they can’t metabolize it properly into the active form, which is methyltetrahydrafolate. So, if you’re going to get a multi, make sure it has methyltetrahydrafolate in case you want those people to can’t use it properly, you can’t use a regular synthetic folic acid. And this way you know it’s going to protect you. It does all the things that folate supposed to do except it’s already working. But you need these ingredients that you get in a multivitamin for the phase one detox and to also support phase two detox, for instance. And there’s other antioxidants, we have this available pool of powerful antioxidants that shield us from the environment, that shield us from a little bit, from pesticides and herbicides and fungicides and all these chemical estrogens that are added that wind up in our food, etc., that help protect us from plasticizers and inflammation and inhaling smoke and some of the toxins in common foods. So, we have this available system of antioxidants that are really powerful. We mentioned glutathione. There’s a second group called SOD, type one, two and three, which are dependent on a minerals, zinc, manganese and copper. You don’t need a lot of zinc, manganese and copper to make them work, but you do need them. You need the SOD to protect your eyes, and SOD is like a first responder, like if you’re having a heart attack, the heart tries to release SOD to shield itself. It shows the kidneys, the liver, the brain. I mean, it’s just really important. So, the things in a multivitamin help support SOD activity and help support phase one and phase two detoxification activity. But they also, if there’s a little iron in there that supports catalase activity, catalase is amazing. It breaks down these highly toxic free radicals like singlet oxygen that can really damage your tissues and kill your tissues, because that’s ultimately that’s what the free radicals are doing. They’re killing your cells, they’re killing your tissues, they’re damaging you, they’re contributing to aging and to diseases. So, the antioxidants are the things that push back on that. They’re the antidotes to the free radicals. So, besides NAC and a good multivitamin, fish oils are important or eating fish because they’re anti-inflammatory in the brain and in the eyes and in the heart and in the muscles. And two other supplements, curcumin, it’s actually turmeric. Turmeric has about 170 active constituents. Curcumin is just one of them, but it’s the best known one, and it’s probably the most active. But when these are together, when you bundle these together like bismuthoxycurcumin and aromatic turmerone, and all these things that you get in turmeric, they’re very powerful anti-inflammatories. So, a lot of people are using that for backache, muscle pain, even nerve pain shortly for arthritis. That’s what it’s known for. There’s a lot of research that turmeric is great for the brain and for your memory, but it’s also a very powerful anti-inflammatory. That’s why so many people use it for arthritis, it reduces the inflammation that reduces the pain and the arthritis and helps them walk and move better. It improves their mobility. Problem is that turmeric is very poorly absorbed. So, you want to get one that has help like biocurcumin or Sabinsa makes the curcumin with the bioperine, which is black pepper extract. So, there’s several curcumins instead of well absorbed. And I would take the turmeric supplement, which has curcumin, and all these other ingredients are well absorbed, one like twice a day. If you’re exposed to these fumes or these pollutants to protect your body, to protect your brain and your heart and all the other organs and tissues in the body. And the last one would be resveratrol. Resveratrol is a very good, we’ve done a podcast episode on this resveratrol is a very good anti-inflammatory in the brain and in the heart, research proves this. It’s also good anti-inflammatory in the pancreas. Do some resveratrol if there’s a lot of air pollution. † [00:28:02]


[00:28:03] So, I want to thank you for listening today. Just to sum it up, NAC, a very safe supplement, take it with food, 600 milligrams, 2 to 3 times a day with food is plenty on bad air quality days, a multi a good multivitamin, fish oils, turmeric and resveratrol and you’re off to the races. That’s very powerful protection for your body, although you know good dietary habits. So, all of our podcast episodes are free wherever you listen to podcast or just go to, you get them all there. It’s hundreds and hundreds of them, done by different health professionals. You can also find Invite on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram at Invite Health. By the way, if you could leave a review and subscribe, the review is very helpful for me. I know where we’re going with these things. You know what you want, what you don’t want. And if you subscribe, of course, you know that’s a nice thing. I want to thank you for listening and hope to see you next time on the next installment of my podcast episode. Jerry Hickey signing off. † [00:28:03]

*Exit Music*

Share this post!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.