Environmental pollution is a true danger for us. Pollution is caused by anything that has a detrimental effect on our water, soil, air and thereby, our health. Heavy metals, lethal chemicals, biological pollutants like bacteria, viruses, or poisonous gases are common pollutants. Today, I would like to talk about air pollution, its effect on our health and nutrients that have been proven to protect against the damage and help revitalise our bodies.
Air pollution in India is majorly caused by toxic gasses from burning crops, diesel and petrol combustion in vehicles, generators, industry, coal burning, biomass and waste burning and, of course, dust. This phenomenon is present throughout the year and is seen to be more impactful in urban cities.
What Does Pollution Do To Our Health?
- Large studies published across the world have underlined the following outcomes of air pollution on human health.
- Short term effects include inflammatory response in the lungs along with respiratory symptoms like cough and sore throat.
- A constant repeated exposure has shown to lower respiratory issue symptoms, reduction in lung function, COPD, lung cancer and even mortality.
- Other than this, there is an increased risk for developing heart diseases, cardiovascular diseases and stroke, thickening of the arteries and increased BP.
Nutrients For Protection From Pollution:
While speaking about nutritional shield against the detrimental effects of air pollution, whole seasonal foods and healthy diet and exercise regimen are the cornerstone. However, some nutrients are more special to maintain our health.
Omega 3 poly unsaturated fatty acids (PUFA) lead the pack as far as their effect on controlling the oxidative stress induced by air pollutants and their effect on heart diseases are concerned. Furthermore, omega -3 fats have also shown a positive effect on lowering of triglycerides and heart dysfunction. Good sources of omega-3 include fish oils, so consumption of fatty fish like salmon, mackerel and trout at least 3 times a week is recommended. These foods contain omega-3 forms of DHA & EPA, which provide the best health benefits. For vegetarians and vegan walnuts, flax seeds, chia seeds are good sources of this nutrient and green leafy vegetables, methi seeds, kalachana, rajmah, bajra also contain omega -3. The vegetarian source provide omega 3 as ALA.
2. B Vitamins:
2. Vitamin B-2, 6, 12 and folate are critical co-factors in metabolic pathways that have a direct effect on cardiovascular health, neurological diseases and cancers. They play a vital role in the protecting us from detrimental effects of air pollution. Being water soluble, it is essential that they be consumed daily. Vitamin B2, Riboflavin is found in milk, eggs, yogurt and mushrooms. Vitamin B6, Pyridoxine, is found in poultry, peanuts, soy beans, oats banana and milk. B12 is available in animal sources of food mostly, milk and cheese. B9, Folate: Green leafy vegetables, white chana, rajmah, green gram.
3. VITAMIN C
This vitamin is crucial for protection against air pollution because our lungs are the first organ affected. Vitamin C is critical for maintaining the structural integrity of the lungs, overall lung function and prevention of onset or deterioration of respiratory diseases. Vitamin C also acts as a scavenger of free radicals and is known for its strong antioxidant role in our body. Good sources of Vitamin C include: coriander, chulai ka saag, amla, all citrus fruits, guava, tomato and papaya.
4. VITAMIN E
Vitamin E works to protect against damage caused by inflammation and is a strong antioxidant, both these properties are very valuable for protection of the lungs from the damage of inhaling polluted air. It also improves immunity and prevents clots formation in arteries. Vitamin E sources include: vegetable oils of sunflower, safflower and soy, wheat germ, peanuts, spinach, beet greens, red bell peppers, almonds and salmon.
I cannot avoid including this spice as it has a potent anti-inflammatory and antioxidant effect, both of which are crucial for protection against the damage caused by air pollution. It is also helpful in relieving respiratory issue symptoms, so adding haldi, in milk as an infusion and as a part of daily cooking is a good habit.
While we must eat healthy for protection, but prevention is a better solution. As citizens we must collectively tackle environmental pollution for a healthier planet.
Featured Video Of The Day
About Rupali DattaRupali Datta is a Clinical Nutritionist and has worked in leading corporate hospitals. She has created and lead teams of professionals to deliver clinical solutions for patients across all medical specialties including critical care. She is a member of the Indian Dietetic Association and Indian Association of Parenteral and Enteral Nutrition.