Air Pollution: The Fight Just Moved Indoors
Just over a month ago, Castro was around, Jayalalitha was alive, Indian currency was fine, Hillary was readying to party and Delhi’s air still tolerable...phew! What a month.
Well, the last one’s debatable and probably the only one which punches you and I in the face. Air pollution in Delhi NCR was a tight slap on our faces as soon as we finished that last bite of baklava or motichoor laddo post Diwali. Delhi was called a city of the walking dead with obituary notes published far and beyond. According to WHO's report, air pollution is a major contributor to diseases such as lung and respiratory infections, heart disease, and cancer. And while a lot of debate ensued on government apathy and people made a beeline to procure protection masks, there was little if at all any literature on how to fight ill effects of pollution through lifestyle changes and more importantly diet.
I did some research and came across few good pointers on how we can prep ourselves to fight air borne pollution. Let’s take a quick look:
Healthy Diet, Your First Line of Defense
Just avoiding or limiting your exposure to toxins is not enough. You need to focus on eating a healthy balanced diet above everything else. Interestingly, if you’re deficient in essential metals, your body will actually use toxic heavy metals as “stand-ins” instead. For example: In case of Calcium deficiency in diet it is replaced by lead, which deposits primarily in bone, and disrupts the formation of red blood cells.
The guidelines are simple and easy to follow:
- Eat foods that are natural, unprocessed, and organic (and contain no sugar except for the occasional bit of honey or maple syrup)
- Eat foods that grow in your native environment. In other words, eat locally grown, seasonal foods
- Eat unpasteurized dairy products (such as raw milk)
- Eat at least one-third of your food raw
- Make sure you eat enough healthy fats, including those from animal sources like omega-3 fat, and reduce your intake of omega-6 from vegetable oils
Eat Sprouts, a Living Food with Amazing Health Benefits
Sprouts are a "super" food that many overlook. Sprouts can contain up to 100 times more enzymes than raw fruits and vegetables, allowing your body to extract more vitamins, minerals, amino acids and essential fats from the foods you eat. During sprouting, minerals, such as calcium and magnesium, bind to protein, making them more bioavailable. A must have in your diet to build a strong immune system and flush air borne toxins out of your system.
Increase Your Veggies Intake
The easiest and most efficient ways to optimize your vegetable intake is to juice your vegetables. Not only will juicing help your body absorb all the nutrients from the vegetables by making them easily digestible, but you're also avoiding the risk of damaging any of their sensitive micronutrients through cooking. Cooking and processing food destroys many micronutrients by altering their shape and chemical composition. Spinach, cabbage, lettuce, carrots, kale can play a very important part in controlling inflammation because of its antioxidant activity.
Add These Anti Inflammatory Spices To Your Diet
Air pollution has long been implicated as a cause of heart and lung disease, in part because it triggers inflammation in your body. Herbs and certain cooking spices contain a wide variety of antioxidants, minerals and vitamins, and help maximize the nutrient density of your meals. Every time you flavor your meals with herbs or spices you are literally "upgrading" your food without adding a single calorie.
Four spices were found to be significantly effective at quelling the inflammatory response:
Opt for Fermented Foods
The process of fermentation can transform ordinary vegetables into super foods. The culturing process increases the presence of beneficial microbes that are extremely important for human health as they help balance your intestinal flora (remember, an estimated 80 percent of your immune system is actually located in your gut), thereby boosting overall immunity. Fermented foods are some of the best chelators and detox agents available, meaning they can help rid your body of a wide variety of pernicious toxins, including heavy metals.
Fermented foods such as raw yoghurt, miso (fermented soya), kimchee, pickles, sauerkraut (chopped cabbage), olives, and other fermented vegetables, will help 'reseed' your gut with beneficial bacteria. Some fermented foods are outstanding sources of essential nutrients such as vitamin K2 and many B vitamins.
Intermittent Fasting May Help You Achieve Optimal Health
Intermittent fasting, also known as "scheduled eating," does not necessarily mean abstaining from all food for extended periods of time. Rather it refers to limiting your eating to a narrow window of time each day. Simply eat all meals or snacks during a limited window of time.
Ideally, you'll want to limit your eating to a window of about 6-8 hours each day (say from noon to 6 p.m.), which means you're fasting daily for 16-18 hours. This is enough to get your body to shift into fat-burning mode, and applies whether you're restricting the number of calories you consume during this time or not.
Once you shift to fat-burning mode, modern research has confirmed some of the benefits to be:
- Reducing inflammation and lessening free radical damage
- Normalizing your insulin sensitivity, which is key for optimal health as insulin resistance is a primary contributing factor to nearly all chronic disease, from diabetes to heart disease and even cancer
- Normalizing ghrelin levels, also known as "the hunger hormone"
- Lowering triglyceride levels
The bottom line - in today’s highly polluted environment, you need to manage your health in an all-inclusive manner. While some of these tips are commonplace, few others may pique your interest and force you to opt for better choices for your next meal. Bon Appetite!