New Delhi: Delhi, the national capital, is not the only city to be affected by air pollution. Touted as an invisible killer, from Bihar, Jharkhand, Maharashtra, Uttar Pradesh, to Rajasthan, and West Bengal, the toxic air has engulfed one and all. According to health experts and environmentalists, breathing in polluted air has both short term and long term effects ranging from sore throat, irritation in eyes, respiratory disorders, anxiety, depression, to Alzheimer, cardiac diseases, lung damage, and others. While one cannot truly protect themselves from the toxic air, they can definitely build resistance against the impact of air pollution and reduce its influence. One of the simplest ways to do battle pollution is by making small changes in your diet.
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Here’s what you should be eating to eliminate the effects of air pollution:
Anything that is rich in Vitamin A, C, and E helps in repairing the body, fighting inflammation that is caused by pollution or any kind of toxin. Keeping in mind the vegetables and fruits available in the current season, experts suggest consumption of carrot, sweet potato, raddish, spinach, fenugreek (methi) and pumpkin for Vitamin A. While lemon, Amla and oranges are rich in Vitamin C, rice bran oil and almonds will provide you Vitamin E. Clinical Nutritionist Lovneet Batra suggests drinking fresh amla juice (30ml), every day.
Adequate intake of micronutrients and vitamins like Vitamin C and E helps fight lowered immunity and infections. Hence foods rich in these that include citrus fruits like, Guava, oils, fish and nuts should be present in the diet, says Poornima Prabhakaran, Deputy Director, Centre for Environmental Health, Public Health Foundation of India (PHFI).
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Talking about inculcating Vitamin C in children’s diet, Ms Batra says,
Once the food is cooked and right before your child or anyone is about to eat it, squeeze half a lemon on the top.
The golden spice turmeric is known for its anti-oxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. Curcumin, the compound present in turmeric is a very potent agent that aids in clearing toxins and protecting the lungs.
Most people have it (turmeric) in the wrong way. If you are having haldi (turmeric), don’t have it in water, instead boil it in the milk and add black pepper. You can also take it with coconut oil or mustard oil and black pepper; take is like first thing in the morning, on empty stomach, recommends Ms Batra.
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The holy plant Tulsi (Basil), often worshipped in Indian households, holds anti-pollution and detox properties. For lung detox, Ms Batra suggests a drink which can simply be made by boiling four to five Tulsi leaves in water. After boiling, add one teaspoon of ginger juice to it.
Don’t chew on leaves directly because it erodes your teeth enamel so you can boil it and then have it. Also, pregnant women should steer clear of Tulsi, says Ms Batra.
Fruits And Vegetables
Whenever our body is facing major environmental changes or coming in direct contact with pollution, we need anti-oxidants and energy because pollution pulls down energy levels, to cause fatigue and headache. In this case, while fruits will help you feel energised, vegetables will act as anti-oxidants. Experts recommend four servings of vegetables and atleast two to three servings of fruits in a day.
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Children usually don’t enjoy vegetables and that is where you have to act smart – hide the vegetables. Prepare green roti or idli (use spinach), red roti using beetroot, pumpkin soup, or a green soup with all the greens in it and add some milk in it. Remember, it is crucial for children to eat vegetables because if they will not eat it as kids, they will not eat it as adults, says Ms Batra.
For people who cannot afford a nutritious diet or vegetables, Ms Batra recommends a combination of black chana, peanuts and jaggery. Having this combination once a day takes care of Vitamin A and E, but for Vitamin C, one has to rely on citrus fruits.
Itchy throat and burning eyes are very common during high levels of pollution. For that, Mulethi (Liquorice Root), a herb, helps. Simply boil it in water and post that add some jaggery in it.
Along with all this, experts suggest consumption of jaggery and sugarcane juice for clearing out toxins from the body.
Toxins are of two kinds – water soluble and fat soluble. If you are not drinking enough water, no matter how many agents you are having those toxins won’t flush out of your body so keep yourself hydrated. Drinking plenty of water is a must, signs off Ms Batra.
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