When pollutants invade us, the body releases a chemical called histamine to fight them, and this shows up as nasal congestion, mucous formation, and sneezing.
Dish 1: A Tangy Chaat
Try this tangy chaat: chop pineapple, apple, and kiwi. Squeeze some lemon and dig in!
You must get apple power for your lungs. They help reduce wheezing, thanks to the high quantities of quercetin and khellin (both flavonoids) which help open up the stuffed airways and have strong anti-histamine, antioxidant, and anti-inflammatory properties.
The enzyme bromelin in it helps clear out the toxic debris that accumulates in the lungs and thus helps it detox naturally.
Loading up on vitamin C helps as it arrests and reduces the damage done to the lung tissue by environmental toxins. Kiwi is loaded with Vitamin C and also delivers multiple phytonutrients which help cut inflammation caused by allergic reactions in the respiratory system.
Dish 2: Banana Smoothie
Try this smoothie: churn a banana, put some ginger juice and coconut water, and sip health.
A banana a day can keep asthma away. It is one of the best sources of pyridoxine (Vitamin B6) that is needed for the production of molecules (ATP and cAMP), which help relax the bronchial smooth muscle tissue.
Ginger helps stamp the air pollutants out of the air passages before they get the time to irritate the lungs. It is loaded with anti-inflammatory nutrients also.
Low potassium levels are linked to shortness of breath, so zero in on high potassium foods: most fruits and vegetables, and banana and coconut water in particular.
Dish 3: Avocado Salad
Try this easy salad: mix up chopped avocado, halved grapes, sliced garlic cloves, lime juice, salt, and black pepper, and enjoy.
This fruit delivers a lot of L-glutathione, a compound that is anti-asthma and helps protect cells against free radical damage. It also helps detox the body of pollutants. Other glutathione-rich foods are garlic, onion, cauliflower and cabbage.
Resveratrol helps cut the inflammation while keeping the lungs fighting fit, and grapes are perfect for this. When they are not in season, you can get resveratrol from peanuts.
Garlic is high in antioxidants and stimulates the activity of “natural killer cells” that boost the immune system splendidly, help cut inflammation, and thus help beat the negative effects of pollution on our body.
Dish 4: Baked Fish With Spinach
To make Baked Fish With Spinach sauté: 1 chopped onion in 1 tbsp oil, add 2 cloves of minced garlic, 1 chopped tomato, 1 tbsp parsley, salt and pepper to taste. Cook for 10 minutes. Sprinkle 250 gm salmon fish lightly with salt and lemon juice.
Arrange the tomato mixture in a baking dish, lay fish on top and arrange 100 gm fresh spinach, chopped and blanched around it. Sprinkle some kalonji seeds on top.
Pour 1 tbsp wine (optional) over it. Cover it with aluminum foil and bake in preheated 350°C oven for 30 minutes. Uncover and continue baking for 15 more minutes.
This leafy vegetable is loaded with magnesium, that is a protective mineral for asthma. Almonds, cashews, and sunflower seeds are other great sources of magnesium.
Asthma occurs when the airways become narrowed and inflamed, leading to breathing difficulties. Omega-3-rich fish helps dampen cytokine (that inflame airways and make lung tissue very sensitive to irritants like dust, dander, and pollution.) Fatty fish, walnuts, and flaxseeds are good omega 3 options.
Known as kalonji seeds and scientifically known as Nigella sativa, onion seeds contain an essential ingredient - thymoquinone - that helps fight the inflammation that builds up within the lungs of asthmatic patients. So go on and sprinkle these liberally on dal, vegetables, etc to get the benefit.
Dish 5: Good Old Turmeric Milk
To make turmeric milk: boil a cup of milk and add 1/2 inch piece of accha (raw) turmeric to it. Add a pinch of black pepper, strain, and sip.
Or just warm up some milk, add 1/2 tsp turmeric powder, a pinch of black pepper, and sip.
Turmeric works like a tonic to relieve congestion. It contains a compound called curcumin, which reduces inflammation by lowering levels of inflammatory enzymes in your body.
This has an active principle called pipperine that has analgesic as well as anti-inflammatory properties, and helps the body to fight asthma-inducing allergens.
Avoid High Calories
Don’t eat too many calories, as diets high in calories might make you gain weight and lead to a severity of asthma symptoms because of being overweight.
Skip preservative-laden foods and keep the intake of processed foods to minimum. Eat fresh as a rule.
Dump trans fats and look out for partially hydrogenated oil in labels which means the product likely contains trans fat. Digesting and metabolizing trans fats, studies show, can create prostaglandins and leukotrienes, which are inflammatory chemicals.
Avoid too much junk. Potato chips may actually be more problematic than pollution.
(Kavita is a nutritionist, weight management consultant, and health writer based in Delhi. She is the author of Don’t Diet! 50 Habits of Thin People (Jaico), Ultimate Grandmother Hacks: 50 Kickass Traditional Habits for a Fitter You (Rupa), and Fix it With Foods.)