As the winter season approaches, the level of pollution in the air is increasing consistently, largely due to crop burning. Soon it may become difficult to breathe as well as see as the smog thickens. Such high levels of air pollution can have a serious impact on health as they can give rise to a number of conditions like asthma, skin problems, mental health problems and even heart diseases.
Other than avoiding the outdoors and continuing to wear a mask when you step outside, there are also some diet choices that can help you avoid the harmful effects of pollution. Following are some food items which can help fight pollution from the inside:
1. Vitamin C rich foods
Vitamin C is one of the most powerful antioxidants; it can protect the body from several ailments and inflammation, including the health effects of pollution. It has been reported that this antioxidant has the ability to neutralize the effects of pollutants. Lemon, orange, amla, green vegetables, grapefruit, tomatoes and potatoes are some examples of Vitamin C rich foods.
Turmeric has been used as a therapeutic herb since ancient times. Curcumin, the active agent present in turmeric, has anti-inflammatory properties that protect the lungs from the toxic effects of pollutants. Turmeric also contains powerful antioxidants that protect the body from oxidative stress, which gets induced on getting exposed to polluted air.
3. Nuts and seeds
There are certain nuts and seeds such as walnuts and flaxseed, which are packed with omega-3 fatty acids and phytoestrogens. While omega-3 fatty acids protect the heart and blood vessels from the harmful effects of smog, phytoestrogens have antioxidant properties which can cut down the oxidative stress in the body. Phytoestrogens also help in reducing the symptoms of asthma and other lung allergies.
Ginger contains gingerol and other compounds, which can help in reducing inflammation in the body, thus reducing cough. Studies have shown that ginger can act as a decongestant and has the ability to remove toxins from the body.
Jaggery, commonly known as gur in India, is a rich source of iron. Jaggery can help improve the haemoglobin level in the blood, thereby increasing the oxygen-carrying capacity of the blood. This helps in getting rid of breathing-related issues that occur due to pollution.
Fish is an excellent source of omega-3 fatty acids. Studies have shown that omega-3 fatty acids can help fight inflammation in the brain and protect the body from heart diseases such as arrhythmia, heart failure and heart attack. It has also been found that omega-3 can protect the brain from neurotoxins such as lead and mercury which are found in air pollution.
For more information, read our article on Antioxidants.
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