As #OurCity braces for the festive season, we also gear up for the unendurable smog that has Delhi in its grip, at this time of the year. The air is toxic; allergies and upper respiratory tract conditions are surging. While we can do our bit using public transport as far as possible (or wait for #OddEven to be re-imposed) and saying no to crackers, #DSSCRecommends extra care towards the daily diet to help combat the toxic effects of air pollutants.
Load Up On Antioxidants
While inhaling the toxic air, the lining of the lungs act like a sieve, preventing the harmful substances from entering our body. When pollution levels are high, pollutants get through in the form of free radicals and wreak havoc on the immune system. Loading up on antioxidants becomes quintessential in this scenario. To prevent excessive oxidation or the creation of free radicals, one needs to find friends in the three major sources of antioxidants — Vitamin C, Vitamin E & Beta-Carotene. Here’s all you need to know about them:
- Vitamin C fights free radicals and is abundantly found in lemons, guavas, oranges, kiwis, and papayas. Bell peppers, broccoli and leafy greens such as kale and spinach have high Vitamin C content, too.
- Almonds and avocados are loaded with Vitamin E, along with sunflower seeds and plant oils such as sunflower oil and olive oil. Kiwis have Vitamins C & E, too. So, make sure you fill your shopping bags with these.
- Beta-carotene gets converted into the cancer-fighting Vitamin A in our bodies. Take a leaf from Bugs’ book and chomp on carrots. Pumpkin, sweet potatoes (with skin), apricots, spinach, kale, cabbage, and broccoli are the other beta-carotene rich foods that one must consume.
The flavonoids are a group of nutrients known for their antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. Inflammation leads to chronic diseases such as high blood pressure, diabetes, heart disease, and cancer. Fret not, as these flavonoids will help calm you down, and support the nervous system and the heart. Red wine and white wine (hurrah!) are full of antioxidants as is dark chocolate. Green tea, broccoli, and leafy vegetables yet again find their way on this list. Berries, nuts, beans, and herbs like parsley and thyme, are chock-a-block with flavonoids too.
Consume Food Rich In Omega-3 Fatty Acids
Here’s a quick throwback to a biography lesson. Remember the particulate matter you inhaled which entered your lungs? Your heart comes in contact with it through the blood it pumps. Everything is connected. So here’s how you can take care of your heart in the coming weeks. Make sure you include flaxseeds, chia seeds, and walnuts in your diet along with black chickpeas, kidney beans, soybean, and spinach. For seafood lovers, we give you yet another reason to get your hands on good quality fish, oysters, and caviar — Omega-3 occurs naturally in these underwater inhabitants.
Home Remedies At Help
Grandma’s wisdom saves the day when an emergency comes knocking. These nifty tips will see you through the bad air days:
- Haldi doodh or turmeric latte contains curcumin which battles free radicals.
- Jaggery is a natural cleanser and flushes out toxins from the stomach, lungs, and respiratory tract. It is also loaded with antioxidants.
- Add ginger and tulsi to your tea, and chew on raw garlic or neem in the mornings for a simple everyday detox.
- Pranayam, kapalbhati and jal neti will help cleanse your system of the adverse effects of air pollution.
- Invest in an air purifier and keep it plugged in when you’re indoors, especially while you sleep.
- Indoor plants are are natural ways to purify air in the room. Our fave is the aloe vera which gives out oxygen at night and we love the fresh gel it produces too. The bamboo palm or the spider plant are naturally air-cleaners and can give a quick burst of colour to a room while removing carbon monoxide & other harmful matter from the air. Remember to dust off your new green friend regularly when you buy one.
- Download a PM (Particulate Matter) app & keep tabs on the areas where you spend most of your time.
Here’s hoping this comprehensive list will power you through the pollution-filled days and usher you into the festive season with aplomb.