With delicious food and festive spirit, Diwali also brings smog and air pollution with it every year and with it, the diseases and infections follow. With the high levels of pollutants in the air, it is time to follow some precautions and save yourself from falling ill.
IndiaToday.in spoke to dietician Shalini Singhal and Dr Jasveer Singh, an ENT specialist, about tips and preventive measures which can help you from getting sick due to the pollution.
STEPS TO SAVE YOURSELF FROM AIR POLLUTION
Dr Singh told us about the first steps to take in order to save yourself from the pollution.
1. To begin with, the person should be aware of the pollution in his surroundings.
2. One should avoid exercising outdoors when pollution levels are high. Avoid going out for a walk on the roads when the temperature is low.
3. Avoid exercising near highly polluted areas, for example, areas with heavy traffic.
4. Keep the energy levels in your home as minimum as possible. Limit the usage of appliances.
5. Schoolgoing children should avoid playing on grounds when the air is cool. Their exposure to school bus emissions should also be reduced.
6. It’s better to walk, cycle or carpool instead of using one vehicle per person for travelling.
7. Don’t burn wood or trash. Don’t be in the area where this is happening.
THE BEST TIME TO WORK OUT
According to him, the best time for a workout is morning or before sunset. One should work out in closed-door gyms. He also added, open-window gyms by the road should be avoided.
DOES DIET HELP BEAT AIR POLLUTION?
The precautions will start right in your kitchen and Shalini Singhal agrees. She says, “A good diet can improve your immunity and protect you to a certain extent from the ill-effects of extreme air pollution. Your diet needs to be especially rich in nutrients and food items that help detoxify, are anti-inflammatory and improve immunity. Dietary antioxidants can help provide protection by controlling free radical damage leading to inflammation.”
Any special food items that people need to include in their diet now? She said, “Vitamin C-rich foods like amla, guava, lemon, mausambi, oranges, etc are advised. Vitamin E is a strong antioxidant and food sources of it including sunflower seeds, almonds, avocadoes, peanuts, bran oil, salmon, pine nuts, brazil nuts can be included in the diet.”
Another important ingredient in the diet should be Beta Carotene. According to Singhal, “Beta Carotene, which is the precursor of Vitamin A, also exhibits antioxidant properties. Foods like dark green leafy vegetables, orange and yellow coloured vegetables and fruits are rich in Beta Carotene. Omega 3 fatty acid-rich foods including fatty fish (salmon and mackerel) cod liver oil, flaxseeds, chia seeds, walnuts, etc are also recommended.”
FOOD ITEMS THAT CAN HELP WITH ALLERGIES
“Any food which can cure cough and are natural bronchodilators like green tea, herbal tea (including ginger, black pepper, cloves, tulsi), turmeric milk helps in improving respiratory health. Natural anti-allergics are helpful too. For example, fatty fish, pineapple, kiwi, onion, peppers, etc. You can have overnight-soaked almonds, walnuts, figs and munakka on an empty stomach for the purpose as well. Drinking enough water (lukewarm is better) and keeping the body hydrated is paramount. Gargle with warm water or lightly salted black tea twice daily to avoid any congestion in the throat.”
Dr Singh said that taking steam is not very helpful during heavy pollution irrespective of the popular belief. He said, “This can sometimes dry the nasal mucosa on regular intake, hence, it is not really preferred.”
HOW EFFECTIVE ARE MASKS?
Dr Singh said that the masks are effective up to some extent. He said, “These avoid the inhalation of particular materials and are somewhat helpful. Masks N95 and Masks N99 are easily available in markets.”
HOW TO KEEP YOUR HOME POLLUTION-FREE
Dr Singh said, “Plants help in minimising the air pollution. Big trees like peepal, neem, and bargad control the pollution; however, indoor plants are great as well when it comes to cleaning the indoor air.”
1. Aloe Vera: Make room for the sun-loving plant, aloe vera, to reduce indoor air pollution.
2. Spider Plant: Spiders might not be good for your home, but spider plants are surely a gift to beat indoor air pollution. Snake plant, bamboo palm and Warneck Dracaena also get the job done.
Avoid using air fresheners and burning candles. “Air fresheners have large particulate matter, which is not desirable and should be avoided, but sometimes if necessary, it can be used in small amounts in corners and fans should be kept on.”
DON’TS FOR PEOPLE WITH RESPIRATORY DISEASES
Dr Singh said, “Avoid outdoor games and walks, preferably before sunrise and after sunset. Avoid gardens and plants: pollens might trigger an attack. Keep your inhalers with you if you can’t avoid going out; keep the masks on and finally, avoid areas with a lot of smoke.”