Winter Pollution: Expert Suggests Tips to Protect Yourself From Toxic Air This Season
Air pollution in winter. (Photo Credit: Unsplash)

Winters are here and apart from different allergies and other health issues like cold and flu the winters season also causes the pollution levels to increase. Increased pollution levels during winters pave the way for various cardiovascular diseases, breathing ailments and damage to the lungs. Winter pollution has its worst effects on kids and older adults. Winters tend to make it difficult for people to breathe correctly and if proper precautions are not taken, matters can get worse. Winter Wellness: 8 Common Winter Allergies and Ways to Minimise the Allergen Exposure, Suggested by an Expert. 

Dr Dahiya, Additional Director, Fortis Escorts Hospital, Okhla, New Delhi while talking about pollution in winters says, "The weather conditions are unfavourable and do not allow for pollutants to disburse easily. As a result, they remain trapped in the lower levels of the atmosphere causing a variety of health-related issues." He further explains how pollution during winters can lead to illnesses from a cough and cold to severe respiratory ailments. Especially the pollution levels in Delhi/NCR is quite severe and is oscillating between severe and hazardous.

Some precautionary measures which can be taken to manage your health amidst the high levels of pollution include-

  • Avoiding all outdoor activities
  • Keeping the windows of the household closed
  • Avoiding burning of wood, candles and incense
  • Using masks while travelling outdoors

You may also want to try out different at home air purifier to get rid of the indoor pollution during winters. Apart from that, to battle the cold winter winds it is imperative to maintain the body temperature. Therefore the foods that are consumed should have a high ‘thermic effect’. This will boost our metabolism, keep us active and ensure that we are warm throughout the day. Such foods include high protein foods (poultry, fish, pork and ham) and complex carbohydrates (wholegrain products, green and coloured vegetables etc.).

Dr Vivek Dhaiya provides some quick diet and exercise tips to stay healthy and fit during winters-

  1. Calm your Carb cravings-The cold season tends to ignite our desires, for more carbs and comfort food. To counter this, try eating a protein-packed breakfast to keep your energy.
  2. Have Black Coffee- A significant source of antioxidants that helps lower the risk of diabetes and has been linked to the reduction of colon cancer in women.
  3. Soup- Chicken broth, vegetable broth or dal soup keep the body warm. In cold weather, a good soup can soothe and relax the throat and prevent illnesses by boosting immunity. Soup consumers have a higher intake of proteins, fibre, vitamins and minerals thus helping the stomach fill up sooner and with lesser fats as compared to other food.
  4. Dark Chocolate- The high cocoa content which is packed with flavonoid prevents heart disease and cancer. It also keeps the body temperature up and elevates the mood.
  5. Saffron- Saffron improves digestion, stimulates circulation and reduces high blood pressure. Studies have said that saffron works the same way as an anti-depressant, i.e. it enhances the activity of the brain by boosting neurotransmitters, dopamine and norepinephrine.
  6. Oatmeal- Oatmeal provides nutrients that are essential during winter. It is high in zinc (necessary for proper immune function) and soluble fibre (associated with heart health).
  7. Mushrooms- There are several specialities of mushroom, that have immune-boosting properties because mushrooms have naturally occurring antibiotics.

You may want to avoid stepping out as much as possible, especially without protective gears. Invest in a good mask and air purifier to combat pollution and cold air around you.