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Natural antioxidants that can help your body deal with air pollution

The pollution diet: antioxidant foods to eat if you live in a toxic city

With the rising pollution levels, it is important to fortify yourself from within. Here's what you should be eating to combat the ill-effects of pollution.

Written by Satata Karmakar |Published : December 4, 2020 6:58 PM IST

The air that we all are breathing has reached dangerous levels of pollution yet again. People with no known history of respiratory problems are visiting hospital emergency rooms. Air pollution can have a serious impact on our health, affecting issues including asthma, bronchial diseases, skin problems, mental health issues, cancer, and heart disease.


The polluted air that everyone inhales injects ozone, nitrogen dioxide, and particulate matter into the lungs.

The protective antioxidants available in the lining of our lungs counter it until they are out forced, after which the pollutants begin attacking the immune system. Then the body cells from free radicals that cause inflammation. However, did you know that antioxidants from the food you eat could lend protection from the harmful impact caused by air pollutants?

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Load up on these powerful nutrients to combat the effects of air pollution:

#Vitamin E

This fat-soluble vitamin is our first line of defense against any injury to human tissues. Vitamin E in our diet generally comes from plant-based cooking oils.

1. Vitamin E in our diet usually comes from plant-based cooking oils. Sunflower, safflower, and rice bran oil are the top three sources followed by canola, peanut, and olive oil.

2. Almonds and seeds of sunflower are also good sources of this vitamin. Seeds and nuts are high in fat calories too, so about one ounce a day is adequate.

3. Among fish - salmon, roe, and eel are recommended for their vitamin E content.

4. Spices and herbs like chili powder, paprika, cloves, oregano, basil, and parsley contain a decent amount of vitamin E. However, most of these are consumed in very small quantities. Making them a part of your daily cooking will help add up to the total.

#Beta Carotene

It plays a very critical role in controlling inflammation due to its antioxidant activity. It is also converted to vitamin A in your body.

1. Leafy vegetables like amaranth (chaulai ka saag), coriander, methi(fenugreek), lettuce, and spinach are the richest sources of Beta Carotene.

2. Radish leaves and carrots are good sources too.

#Vitamin C

It is amongst the most potent antioxidant for our bodies. This water-soluble vitamin is found all through our body and it removes free radicals. Vitamin C also contributes to the regeneration of vitamin E. Sufficient vitamin C in our regular diet is important for maintaining its level in the lungs. Adults require around 40mg of this vitamin/day.

1. Vegetables like coriander leaves, chaulai ka saag, drumsticks, parsley, cabbage, and turnip greens are good sources that you should load upon.

2. Fruits like amla, orange, and guava are rich in vitamin C.

3. The easiest way to get your daily dose of vitamin C is to include the juice of 2 lemons in your daily diet.

4. Citrus fruits also add to the vitamin C content of the food.

#Omega-3 Fats

These safeguard the body against the detrimental impact of air pollution on everyone's heart health and lipid profile. Some of the sources of these heart-healthy oils are:

1. Nuts and seeds like walnuts, chia seeds, and flax seeds. Add them to yogurt, make a smoothie, or just have them as is.

2. Methi seeds, mustard seeds, green leafy vegetables, kala chana, rajma, and bajra are common foods that provide omega -3.


Apart from respiratory diseases, air pollution also causes cardiovascular damage, fatigue, headaches, anxiety, irritation of the eyes, nose, and throat, and harm to the liver, spleen, and blood. You can also include jaggery in your daily diet. Jaggery contains iron which increases our lungs' capacity to carry oxygen through the blood. People who suffer from breathing issues can also have honey as it helps with clearing mucus. In addition, a balanced and healthy diet consisting of seasonal fruits and vegetables will help reduce inflammation as well.

On a regular basis, go for herbal and ayurvedic remedies. Having turmeric milk can help reduce inflammation; tulsi and neem can help with the ill-effects of air pollution. Chew on two-three neem leaves every day. Make it a habit to chew on a tulsi leaf first thing in the morning. Pippali powder or long black pepper powder also helps with purifying lungs and can be had with warm water.

One should also know how to detox the lungs. Yes, you can easily detox your lungs too. since pollution and smog in the air that you are breathing can cause throat congestion, try gargling with saltwater. Take steam or vapour every day. And, apart from these, try to get enough sleep, drink enough water throughout the day, exercise regularly (avoid gyms and outdoors) and follow healthy living habits.

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