Air Pollution May Permanently Damage Your Child's Brain, says UNICEF 

South Asia has the largest proportion of babies living in areas where air pollution is at least six times higher than international limits

Air Pollution May Permanently Damage Your Child's Brain, says UNICEF
The ever-rising levels of air pollution in the capital has travelled from being the talk of the town, to being the talk of entire world lately. While pollution's link with respiratory ailments has been well established, according to the United Nations Children's Fund report on Tuesday, air pollution can also permanently damage a child's brain. The Unicef report titled "Danger in the air", also stated that South Asia has the largest proportion of babies living in areas where air pollution is at least six times higher than international limits (10 micrograms per cubic metre). 

Globally 17 million babies under the age of one live in densely polluted area which can get highly toxic fir a child's immune system. An estimated 12.2 million live in South Asia, which is the highest in East Asia and the Pacific which have 4.3 million children breathing toxic air. 

The reported brain damage can happen through several mechanisms. The particulate matters could trigger neuro-inflammation by damaging the blood-brain barrier, a membrane that protects the brain from toxic substances. Another reason could be lie in the specific air pollutant particles, such as magnetite which can lead to oxidative stress which is often the cause of neurodegenerative diseases. The report also tried to explain how the polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons in areas of high automobile traffic, could result in loss of or damage to white matter in the brain. 
In addition to their lungs which is obviously the first target, these harmful pollutants can also take a toll over a child's brain thereby putting his future in danger, said the report. Pollutants inhaled during pregnancy, may permeate through placenta and possibly hamper the development of brain in the foetus stage. 
The report also hinted to the probable link in prenatal exposures and delayed development of an infant's brain, along with psychological and behavioural problems that may occur later in childhood. 
While the government does its bit to improve air quality, a lot can be done from your end to prevent the pollutants to get the better of you. According to consultant nutritionist Dr. Rupali Dutta, here are some natural antioxidant nutrients that can help your body deal with this onslaught.

Vitamin C: It is the single most potent antioxidant for our body. This water soluble vitamin is present throughout our body and it scavenges free radicals. Vitamin C also contributes to vitamin E regeneration. Adequate vitamin C in our daily diets is crucial for maintaining its level in the lungs. Adults need 40mg of this vitamin/day.
1. Vegetables like coriander leaves, chaulai ka saag, drumsticks, parsley, cabbage and turnip greens are good sources that you should load up on.
2. Fruits rich in vitamin C are amla and guava.
3. The easiest way to get your daily dose of vitamin C is to include the juice of 2 lemons in your daily diet.
4. Citrus fruits also add to the vitamin C content of food.

Vitamin E: This fat soluble vitamin is the first line of defense against injury to human tissues.
1. Vitamin E in our diet usually comes from plant based cooking oils. Sunflower, safflower and rice bran oil are the top three sources followed by canola, peanut and olive oil.
2. Almonds and seeds of sunflower are also good sources of this vitamin. Seeds and nuts are high in fat calories too, so about one ounce a day are adequate.
3. Among fish - salmon, roe and eel are recommended for their vitamin E content.
4. Spices and herbs like chilli powder, paprika, cloves, oregano, basil and parsley contain a decent amount of vitamin E. However, most of these are consumed in very small quantities. Making them a part of your daily cooking will help add up to the total.

Ayurveda Solutions:
Certain herbs and spices have been suggested in Ayurvedic medicine for curing common respiratory ailments.

1. Turmeric is a well-known antioxidant and is said to help protect the lungs from the toxic effects of pollutants.
2. Mix turmeric and ghee to relieve cough and aid during asthma. During an asthmatic attack, turmeric with jaggery and butter may be taken to relieve symptoms.
3. Jaggery mixed with onion juice is said to have an expectorant effect, useful during both wet and dry cough.

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