Air pollution inside and outside can have a serious impact on our health, affecting issues including asthma, bronchial diseases, skin problems, mental health issues, cancer and heart disease. In fact, latest figures show that 91 per cent of the world’s population live in places where air quality exceeds the World Health Organisation’s guideline limits and approximately seven million people die each year as a result of exposure to air pollution.
So how can we protect ourselves from the effects of poorer air quality? The promising news is that research has shown what we eat can provide some protection against air pollution. Making simple changes to our diet can have various health benefits and the key, research is saying, is antioxidants.
Antioxidants protect the body from free radicals produced as a result of toxic air particles entering our bodies. Free radicals can cause inflammation, ranging from disease to premature ageing. The antioxidants neutralise these free radicals to prevent them doing damage.
Here are some diet-rich antioxidants to help your body protect itself from air pollution.
1. Vitamin C is one of the most potent antioxidants
EAT: Chilli peppers, blackcurrants, oranges, kale, kiwis, broccoli
2. Beta-carotene, which is found in red and orange fruits and vegetables as well as leafy greens, is converted to vitamin A. Vitamin A has anti-inflammatory (and anti-ageing) properties and is also key for reproductive health, eye health and a healthy functioning immune system.
EAT: Carrots, kale, spinach, red and yellow peppers, sweet potatoes, apricots
3. Omega-3 fatty acids have been linked to the reduction of inflammation and oxidative stress caused by air pollution
EAT: Mackerel, salmon, oysters, sardines, flaxseeds, chia seeds