Our high-tech time demands a certain mental workload from every single person every day and intellectual work paired with a corresponding individual level of intensity is becoming more and more extensive.
Cognitive performance is therefore a socially omnipresent topic.
While the father with an office job tries to increase his daily cognitive capacity in order to be able to do more work in less time, the 30-year-old professional athlete is pursuing the goal of minimizing her sport-specific error rate.
What both have in common is the fact that an optimization of the individual mental performance has an equally positive influence on several factors. Among other things, motivation, energy level, output and also fun.
While some people react very sensitively to irregularities in their thought processes and notice even the smallest abnormalities, other people see daily fluctuations in terms of mental performance as completely " normal ".
This proves that the brain and our ability to absorb and process information is subject to many different influencing factors.
The topic of mental performance is therefore fundamentally very complex and profound.
Science has proven over the past decades that, for example, eating habits, daily activity levels, neurotransmitter balance, and sleep quality and quantity have significant effects on a person's individual cognition.
However, this field of research is far from being fully developed, so that in addition to the already known influencing factors, there are still many unconsidered or largely unexplored disturbance variables on the human psyche.
As a result, the “ cognitive performance ” is repeatedly the focus of scientific investigations.
A recently published study impressively sheds light on how the application of a HEPA air filter during pregnancy affects the cognitive performance of children.
Before more precise details on the study results are evaluated at this point, it is first necessary in this context to define what exactly a HEPA air filter is and what properties are associated with it.
What is a HEPA air filter?
A HEPA air filter is a technological innovation for indoor air purification. In this context , the term HEPA stands for “ High Efficiency P articulate Airfilter ” .
It is a highly efficient mechanical filtration to capture and retain particulate air pollutants.
HEPA filters blow the air through a fine mesh, which traps the harmful particles and prevents them from being released back into the room air.
This type of air purification device is particularly suitable for larger particles in the air such as dust, pollen, mold spores or house dust mites.
By filtering the air, a significant reduction in the concentration of pollutants indoors is achieved.
Studies show a reduction in particulate matter pollution of between 29% and 83%.
Strong health benefits can be achieved in both the short and long term.
Why a HEPA air filter?
Air pollution is a major public health risk worldwide, affecting nearly every organ system in the human body and the central nervous system.
In fact, air pollution is ranked among the top five environmental health risks in the world. The sources of indoor air pollution are chemically more diverse than they were 40 years ago. At the same time, a steady increase in identified harmful compounds is recorded, so that the number and type of potential sources of pollutants is constantly increasing.
Potential sources of air pollution include, for example, mould, house dust mites, tobacco smoke and, in particular, fine dust.
In order to counter these risks, to control sources of pollutants and to eliminate them as far as possible, various air purification devices can be used today.
HEPA filters have proven to be a particularly effective tool in reducing exposure to indoor air pollutants, including particulate matter.
In order to optimize concentration, learning and productivity, increasing attention should be paid to the topic of " air quality ", especially in today's " indoor " world, when most activities take place in closed rooms.
According to Kleppers et al. (2001) a person living in industrialized nations spends on average about 90% of their time indoors.
It is therefore not surprising that the corresponding room climate also has an impact on our health and individual well-being.
The connections between chronic exposure to particulate matter and the pathogenesis of cardiovascular and pulmonary diseases are now well documented.
However, more recent studies and data also point to further negative influences of various scenarios such as diabetes and dementia.
Particulate matter pollution during pregnancy
Fetal life is characterized by the multidimensional development of nerve structures paired with a correspondingly high rate of cell replication.
The speed and complexity of neural development does not occur at any later point in human life to the same extent as in the prenatal period.
From the point of view of optimal development of the nervous system during pregnancy, this time is therefore considered to be particularly crucial.
At the same time, the immunological defense mechanisms of the embryo are not fully developed in this phase, which is why there is a fundamentally increased susceptibility to environmental stressors.
A prenatally increased exposure to environmental pollution (including particulate matter) has already been linked to a reduction in cognitive abilities in various studies.
Potential growth restrictions in the unborn child are also associated with this, as well as an increased risk of later immunologically-related complications.
The study already mentioned at the beginning and newly published in June 2022 now examined the effects of reduced exposure to particulate matter pollution during pregnancy on the cognitive performance of children aged 4 years.
Application of HEPA air filters to increase cognitive performance
The result of the randomized and controlled study showed that a reduced exposure to fine dust through the application of a highly efficient particle filter during pregnancy led to an improvement in children's cognitive performance.
The study included a total of 540 pregnant women, who were divided into two study groups.
One group received (depending on the size of the apartment) one to two portable HEPA air filter devices, while the parallel group acted as a control group and accordingly underwent no intervention.
At the age of 4, the children in the “ HEPA air filter group ” had higher cognitive scores on average than the children in the control group.
A living environment that is as pollution-free as possible should therefore have top priority, especially during pregnancy.
Due to the global topicality of the air pollution issue, however, these recommendations can also be generalized.
Projecting the evaluated results onto the average daily life of a person, spending the vast majority of the time indoors, gives a quick idea of the impact of various environmental influences (in this case: air quality) on human body chemistry.
Taking into account the fact that mental performance is becoming increasingly important in today's fast-paced and high-tech world, it is essential that different interventions to optimize this component are prioritized.
The decisive factor here is that one can fall back on the widest possible spectrum of different options in order to be able to approach this topic multifactorially and to be able to have a positive influence through nutrition, supplementation, activity (training) as well as through newer innovations such as HEPA filter devices .
For more performance in everyday life as well as in training and thus more progress towards your individual goals!
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