There is no getting away from pollution. With many of us living in congested cities, we cannot escape from the smog and dust which seem to be everywhere. During the winter months particularly, many people suffer from worsening of their health and complaints of breathing problems, asthma, coughing, throat irritation, watery eyes and itchy skin problems increase. What can we do? Do we resign ourselves to this fate or can we still manage it the natural way? Read on
The dipping quality of air today
Atmospheric pollution is defined as ‘the presence of substances in the atmosphere, resulting from man-made activities or from natural processes, causing adverse effects to man and the environment’. Of all the prerequisites for health and happiness, clean air is one of the most important – and perhaps one that is so, easily taken for granted.Unfortunately, today many of us have to deal with bad quality of air particularly in big cities.
Air pollution can occur indoor or outdoor. Indoor pollution can occur due to household chemical cleaners, deodorant sprays, and synthetic furnishing, dust mites, mold, and cigarette smoke, smoke from chulhas etc. Outdoor pollution can occur due to emission from industries, power plants, vehicles, burning of crops, forest fires etc.
Typical urban air pollutants from man-made activities includenitrogen oxide, carbon monoxide, Sulphur dioxide, hydrocarbons, particulate matter etc.
With rising congestion in cities, the pollution in the air gets concentrated. Sometimes, during winters, in northern parts of India, high moisture content and still wind patterns cause the smoke coming from surrounding areas due to crop burning, burning of waste and vehicular emissions to become stagnant and cause smog.
How does our body deal with pollution?
During this time, cough, colds, throat irritation, sneezing, phlegm, asthma are common complaints. These are signs from our body that it is trying to throw out offensive material from the body. The body treats the pollutants as poison and tries to throw it out through sneezing, coughing etc. Phlegm accumulation, asthma, breathing difficulties are more problematic as they signal injury to the respiratory tract due to these pollutants and body tries to cover itself with a mucous layer. These are signs of the body’s defence mechanisms at play.
Is there something we can do?
Body is hard at work to protect us from pollution. But what actions can we take to help the body, the natural way?
While some of the aspects of air pollution are out of our scope for immediate resolution, there is definitely a lot we can do to protect ourselves. We need not feel helpless.
The wise thing to do is to aid the body in its elimination efforts during this time, instead of suppressing these symptoms through medicines.
How can this be achieved?
Give rest to the body
Physical rest: If possible, lie down and allow the body to rest when experiencing these symptoms so it can continue with its job of elimination.
Digestive rest: Traditionally, winter is a time of eating fried snacks and chai, make an informed choice. Are these supporting your health? It is best to have easy to digest food during the time of eliminations. As per the dictates of hunger, easy to digest natural foods like fruits juices, fruits, veggie juices, raw salads etc can be had. Avoid hard to digest foods like processed foods, dairy, non veg and grains. These disturb the body’s acid-alkaline balance and further overburden the body. The key is simplification of diet.
Mental rest: It is best to develop an acceptance of the situation and concentrate one’s effort on one’s own healing and happiness. Give your body mental rest by avoiding negative thoughts and making time for a quiet period everyday with meditating or doing activities which give you peace of mind.
Most of us spend a lot of time indoors. Keep a good flow of air in the house by keeping the windows open for some time, even during winter.
Grow plants in your balcony or terrace garden. Keep some plants indoors too which can improve the quality of air indoors. Get out of AC rooms into green surroundings. Take a walk in a neighbourhood park which has a lot of trees. The canopy of trees filter suspended particulate matter and give you cleaner air to breathe in. Life is best expressed in natural surroundings.
Make sure you are breathing through your nose. Our nostrils have natural filters which can filter out pollution. Additionally, you can opt to put on a mask when pollution is high.
Get away - If it is possible, try to get away from the city during periods of high pollution. Take a vacation hiking or indulging in other outdoor activities in natural surroundings. Take this time out for rest, rejuvenation. Connect to yourself, connect to nature and connect to loved ones. It will do you a world of good.
Along with the kidneys and lungs, the skin is also an organ of elimination. Indulge in any activity (like exercise) which causes sweating so that toxin elimination can be aided.
As the saying goes, we have to manage it or change it. Life is all about choices. We can choose to raise the quality of your life with informed choices as best as we can. Once we start exploring opportunities, a whole new world opens up. Read more in our next blog on pollution, coming soon!!
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