As Pollution Rises, Nutritionists Recommend These Food Habits

All over India, pollution has become a pressing health concern. In Delhi, the Air Quality Index (AQI) is hovering around 380 and has even gone as high as 460 in the last week. For reference anything over 100 starts to push into the ‘Poor’ air quality zone. Even in other metros like Mumbai, the air quality is pushing into the red zone, and with it comes a distinct concern about rising issues with coughs, sore throats and respiratory issues. 

The main culprit is small particles and irritants that enter our airways when we breathe and trigger the body’s natural defence mechanism to cough and get it out. After prolonged periods they can also travel down and settle in the soft tissues of the lungs and cause upper respiratory tract issues. In urban areas especially, it’s reported that pollution can often cause a sore throat thanks to the presence of ozone, nitrogen oxides, and fine dust.

Although there is no surefire way to avoid inhaling any pollutants at all, you can do some things to minimise the risk involved. You can stay indoors as much as possible and wear a face mask when you do need to step out. Air purifiers can help in small ways by filtering out the largest particles. And you can also take some steps to improve your diet to help your body’s immunity from the inside out. 

We spoke with Sargam Gupta an Msc. in DFSM, PGD in Nutrition & Dietetics and a Nutritionist, Health & Wellness who shared her 12 top tips around food and food habits that can help soothe an irritated throat and get you through this period.

12 Nutritionist Approved Tips For Better Lung Health

  1. Fruits and Vegetables are rich in antioxidants and vitamins, they help reduce inflammation. Citrus fruits like oranges and berries are high in vitamin C, which can boost lung health.
  2. Leafy Greens like  Spinach, kale, and other greens are packed with nutrients like magnesium, which can help improve lung function.
  3. Omega-3 fatty acids found in fatty fish (salmon, mackerel) and flaxseeds, have anti-inflammatory properties and may reduce the risk of respiratory issues.
  4. Turmeric contains Curcumin, a compound in turmeric, that has anti-inflammatory and antioxidant effects that can benefit lung health.
  5. Ginger may help reduce airway inflammation and improve lung function.
  6. Garlic is also known for its anti-inflammatory properties, garlic can help support the respiratory system.
  7. Nuts and Seeds like Almonds, walnuts, and chia seeds provide essential nutrients and healthy fats that can aid lung health.
  8. Spices like cinnamon, oregano, and thyme contain compounds that may help with respiratory health.
  9. Stay Hydrated: Drinking plenty of water keeps the airways moist and helps with mucus clearance.
  10. A concoction of Turmeric and ginger with drops of lemon every morning is a great way of increasing your immunity against respiratory problems.
  11. Soak the nuts and flaxseeds overnight and in the morning start with soaked seeds on an empty stomach.
  12. Teas like Chamomile, Ginger and echinacea Tea are also known for their immune-boosting properties, which can help prevent respiratory infections.

She also adds a reminder that a balanced diet, regular exercise – especially breath-centric ones like pranayam – and avoiding smoking or exposure to pollutants are essential for maintaining good respiratory health, especially in areas with high pollution levels. So please note that while these suggestions are preventative, any prolonged discomfort or concern should always be handled by a medical professional.