As the air quality in the city remains to be poor due to smog and pollution, our health and well-being is at constant risk. When it comes to our children, we don’t want to take any chances because they are very susceptible to environmental pollutants, and the first ones to be affected. Just by ensuring a nutrient packed diet for our children, we can help them overcome any adversity.
Meenal Arora, Founder Director, Shemford Group of Futuristic Schools has shared with us some essential nutrients that your kids need to consume to become strong enough to combat the ill-effects of air pollution.
Foods rich in Vitamin C are a powerhouse of antioxidants. They protect your cells from any damage caused by smoke and air pollution by scavenging on the free radicals.
- Load up your children on Vitamin C rich fruits like guava, strawberries, papaya, oranges, kiwi, gooseberry (amla) and grapefruit. Toss them into a mixed-fruit chaat or eat them as is.
- Vegetables like cauliflower, kale, cabbage, broccoli, Brussel sprouts, drumsticks and capsicum are a natural source of Vitamin C. Turn them into lip-smacking meals for your child.
- One of the easiest way to sneak Vitamin C into your child’s diet is to offer them lemonade. The juice from two lemons can suffice their daily dose of Vitamin C.
Foods rich in Vitamin E play a major role in protecting the lungs from the harmful pollution-ridden air.
- Give your children a handful of almonds to munch on. Peanuts too are a great choice for having in between meals.
- Packed with Vitamin E, sunflower seeds are a healthy snack option. You can even sprinkle them on salads, omelets, etc. for an extra crunch.
- Eat it raw or cook it, spinach is one of the healthiest leafy green vegetables that one can have. Popeye loves it, and so will your children.
- If you are a non-vegetarian, have fish and other seafood often. They are rich in healthy nutrients, especially Vitamin E. Combine it with pasta or stir fried rice, your children will love it.
- Use sunflower oil, rice-bran oil, or other plant based oils for your daily cooking. Olive, peanut and canola oils are also excellent choices.
Omega-3 fatty acids
Protect your children from the detrimental effects of air pollution by incorporating the heart healthy and anti-inflammatory Omega-3 fatty acids in their diet.
- All children love shakes and smoothies. Twist that simple smoothie into a nutritional powerhouse by adding nuts and seeds like chia seeds, flax seeds and walnuts.
- Soybeans, red kidney beans (rajma), black gram (kala chana), millet (bajra), fenugreek seeds (methi) and mustard seeds are all decent sources of omega-3 fats and should be a staple in your child’s diet.
- Salmons, sardines and other fishes are not only high on taste but are comfort foods for the body in these times of high air pollution. Put them in salads, sandwiches or pizzas, and your child is sure to love it.
Beta carotene is an antioxidant in nature and helps the body fight against free radicals. Fruits and vegetables rich in carotenoids contribute towards good lung health and overall wellness.
- Carrots, bell peppers (green, yellow, red), sweet potatoes, pumpkins, broccoli and a range of other bright coloured vegetables are a great source of beta carotene.
- Leafy greens like amaranth (chaulai ka saag), coriander leaves, lettuce, parsley, spinach, fenugreek leaves (methi) and radish leaves should all be a regular in your kitchen.
Certain Ayurvedic solutions have proven to cure of common respiratory ailments.
- Turmeric, with its antioxidant properties, helps to safeguard your child from the toxic effects of air pollution. Turmeric milk before going to bed will give your little one the much needed relief.
- For asthma symptoms, a mixture of turmeric with ghee or jaggery is extremely beneficial.
- Certain herbs like Haritaki together with jaggery provide relief from phlegm.
- Black pepper, ginger, tulsi, nutmeg, mint and galangal are also valuable in case of respiratory discomforts.
A healthy diet is the first step towards keeping our children safe. So, put in that extra effort, and see things change for the better.