Whether it is your car or your child’s school bus or industries, they all emit mixtures of air pollutants. Many of them are harmful to our health. According to World Health Organization, globally it is estimated that air pollution causes nearly 30 percent of lung cancer deaths. So, on Earth Day, which falls on April 22 every year and is about creating awareness about the environment and its protection, let’s try to reduce air pollution. That in turn, will help to keep your lungs healthy.
Health Shots connected with Dr Nimish Shah, Consultant, Pulmonology, Jaslok Hospital & Research Center, Mumbai, to know about air pollution and lung health.
Air pollution and its effect on lungs
You can’t breathe without your lungs, so they are vital organs that also help to transfer oxygen throughout our bodies. Dr Shah explains that when the quality of air deteriorates due to a variety of factors such as air pollution, particles from the air and toxins build in the lungs. They may lead to sore throat and cough, which is widely known as bronchitis. If this is left on for a long period of time, it might cause irreversible changes and damage to the lungs. So, air pollution has a direct impact on our lungs.
Ways to reduce air pollution
This Earth Day, we must take initiatives to reduce air pollution, at least for the sake of our lungs and health. Here’s what we can do:
• Plant more trees.
• Use public transportation as much as you can.
• Use environment-friendly cars and ensure that the vehicles adhere to emission standards such as Bharat Stage VI. Avoid diesel because it causes more pollution.
• Hybrid and electric vehicles are the way forward because they emit almost zero emissions.
Tips to keep lungs healthy
While protecting the environment, don’t forget to take care of your lungs. Air pollution won’t disappear in an instant, but you can take steps to keep your lungs healthy. Try these tips!
Exercising is not just about weight loss or strengthening your arms and legs. You should sweat it out regularly since it improves lung function, says the expert. This means you should do a good amount of cardio, ranging from 30 to 60 minutes every day or at least five days a week. People with limited mobility like those with arthritis can also opt for something like swimming, which helps in overall body fitness and lung health.
2. Healthy diet
Having a good green diet and drinking more juices instead of aerated drinks can also help you to improve lung function. You should eat high fibre foods like raspberries, chia seeds, quinoa, pears and broccoli.
Yoga is also quite helpful for maintaining lung health, with various Pranayama or breath exercises like Anulom, Vilom and Kapalbhati being particularly helpful.
4. Maintain a normal BMI
Your weight has a direct impact on your lung function, says the expert. Those with a higher Body Mass Index have poorer lung function, so maintaining a normal BMI is critical.
5. Avoid smoking
Avoid smoking, polluted locations, and going unprotected to business industries that produce a lot of poisonous fumes. Smoking is not just about cigarettes, shisha and hookah are also harmful for your lungs. You should also try to avoid being around people who smoke.
So, this Earth Day, let’s save our planet and keep our lungs happy.