Ask anyone and the biggest problem everyone, especially those living in the cities, big or small, is worried about is the effect of pollution on our health. It's difficult to ignore - the daily breaths of bad air that we take in, and what it is doing to our innards, and not feel utterly helpless. After all, how can we counter the bad air all around us?
Well, some foods can help cut the harm down drastically.
Below is a list.
Apples : Apples boost our lung capacity and cut wheezing as they have quercetin and khellin (both flavonoids), which help open up the stuffed airways.
Banana: This ubiquitous fruit helps replenish potassium, low levels of which are linked to shortness of breath. Plus, they are one of the best sources of pyridoxine (vitamin B6) that plays a critical role in the production molecules (ATP and cAMP) that have been shown to help relax bronchial (lungs) muscle tissue. A banana a day is a good idea!
Carrots: The beta carotene carrots are famous for not just keeping our eyesight sharp - but are also equally effective in keeping our lungs clear of toxins. Chomp some every day.
Clove: An organic expectorant, clove helps to break up phlegm in the throat and the oesophagus, as well as prevent respiratory tract infections. Drinking clove tea too is a great idea.
Tip: Always place a clove under your tongue (and keep sucking on it slowly) when you step out.
Custard apple: Rich in the elusive vitamin B6 - pyridoxine - which helps reduce bronchial (tubes that go to the lungs) inflammation, which the toxic air we breathe these days inflicts on us.
Flaxseeds: They have high levels of phytoestrogens and omega 3 fatty acids, both of which have anti-oxidant properties that help reduce the risk of allergic reactions to environmental pollutants.
Garlic: Got garlic breath? Then you possibly have good pulmonary blood flow too. Active metabolites in garlic, called allicin, help alleviate pulmonary hypertension - these tighten blood vessels in the lungs and keep them working fine, even under the onslaught of toxic pollutants.
Ginger: Now, ginger is a proven remedy - begin your day with a ginger tea cuppa and have another when you get back home after work as it helps stamp air pollutants out of the air passages before they have time to irritate the lungs.
Grapes: The component resveratrol in this juicy fruit helps inhibit the release of compounds that cause inflammation on the cell linings of the lungs and helps keep them fighting fit.
Green tea: Make your cup green - green tea is loaded with antioxidants like polyphenols, which have the ability to flush out the toxins that affect our lungs badly.
Indian gooseberry (Amla): It helps you load up on vitamin C more easily and quickly than anything else - it helps arrest the damage to lung tissue caused by environmental toxins. So, target chomping an amla every day.
Or have oranges and guavas when in season.
Mint: When pollutants invade our body, the body releases a chemical called histamine to fight them, and the side effects of this fight are symptoms like nasal congestion, mucous formation, and sneezing. Antihistamines in mint are perfect antidotes for this. So, keep that mint chutney handy and add mint to your fresh juice and stir-fries liberally.
Onion seeds: Scientifically known as Nigella Sativa, onion seeds or fennel flower contain an essential ingredient, thymoquinone, that helps fight against the inflammation that builds up within the lungs due to pollution.
So, go on, sprinkle onion seeds liberally on dal, vegetables - even chapatti - to get the benefit.
Pineapple: The bromelain enzyme, contained in pineapple, helps clear out toxic debris that accumulates in the lungs due to pollution and thus helps detox it naturally.
Turmeric: Turmeric is aromatic and a stimulant, and works as a tonic to relieve congestion. It helps cut respiratory ailments like cough and asthma, and the curcumin in it helps reduce inflammation by lowering levels of inflammatory enzymes (caused due to pollution) in your body.
The writer is a nutritionist, weight management
consultant and health writer based in Delhi.
The article appeared in Daily O.
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