Anti-pollution diet: Top foods to fight air pollution | Health - Hindustan Times

Anti-pollution diet: Top foods to include in your diet for fighting air pollution

By, New Delhi
Oct 26, 2023 01:02 PM IST

What are you doing today to safeguard your heart and lungs from ill effects of pollution? Eat these foods to protect yourself from toxic air and stay healthy.

Air pollution is on rise in Delhi NCR and surrounding regions as the air quality deteriorates with each passing day. While one can avoid exposure by limiting outdoor time during peak pollution hours, it is not always possible to avoid ill effects of air pollution all the time. The toxic air can wreak havoc on your lungs, brain, heart and overall health and it's important to adopt measures that can combat harmful effects of pollutants and particulate matter than can damage health. Air pollution has been identified by WHO as one of the largest environmental health risks, responsible for millions of deaths from lung cancer, heart disease, and respiratory infections. With the right dietary choices and balanced diet with antioxidants, vitamins, and omega-3 fatty acids, it's possible to reverse pollution-induced damage to some extent. (Also read: Air pollution can be deadly for your child's health; 8 important measures to save kids from toxic air)

Maintaining a healthy weight is crucial in managing asthma and reducing your susceptibility to pollution-related health issues.(Freepik)
Maintaining a healthy weight is crucial in managing asthma and reducing your susceptibility to pollution-related health issues.(Freepik)

"Oxidative stress is known to contribute to the development of age-related diseases. Increasing evidence indicates that a poor diet, including clinical malnutrition, may increase the risk of oxidative stress and chronic diseases. Oxidative stress occurs due to an imbalance between reactive oxygen species and antioxidants, which can lead to tissue damage, inflammation, worsened disease severity, and abnormal immune responses," says Dr Charu Dua, Chief Clinical Nutritionist, Amrita Hospital, Faridabad in an interview with HT Digital.

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Dr Dua shares food groups that must be included to combat harmful effects of air pollution:

1. Vitamin A: Milk, eggs, carrots, pumpkins

To counteract pollution's effects, it is recommended to include dietary sources of retinol (vitamin A), primarily found in animal sources like milk, liver, eggs, and fortified foods, as well as orange and yellow fruits such as carrots, mangoes, and pumpkins to introduce carotenoids into your diet.

2. Vitamins C and E: Oranges, guavas, soybean, nuts

Observational and preclinical studies have shown that low Vitamin C and Vitamin E intake is associated with a higher prevalence of asthma. Therefore, it's important to include foods rich in these vitamins in your diet. Citrus fruits like oranges and guavas are excellent sources of vitamin C, while oils, such as soybean and mustard oils, along with green leafy vegetables and nuts, provide vitamin E and omega-3 fatty acids.

3. Vitamin D: Sunlight, eggs, fatty fish

Vitamin D plays a key role in calcium and phosphorus metabolism, and maintaining normal vitamin D levels is correlated with improved asthma control in adults with asthma. However, many people have low indoor vitamin D levels nowadays, so supplementation is necessary to keep vitamin D levels within the normal range to control asthma effectively.

4. Turmeric

Curcumin, a phytochemical found in turmeric, has potent anti-inflammatory, anti-tumour, antifungal, and antioxidant properties. Including curcumin in your diet may help protect against pulmonary fibrosis and cancer. However, it's important not to overdose; a teaspoon of turmeric is sufficient.

5. Black pepper

Also, ensure you consume it with black pepper to enhance its bioavailability, as curcumin is not effectively absorbed by the body without black pepper.

6. Omega-3 fatty acids

Incorporating omega-3 rich oils into your diet is not only heart-protective but also helps protect your body against pollution. Finally, it's worth noting that the Mediterranean diet is considered one of the healthiest diets. It emphasizes whole grains, a variety of fruits and vegetables, balanced meals, and limits processed and instant foods.

Maintaining a healthy weight is crucial in managing asthma and reducing your susceptibility to pollution-related health issues.

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