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Protect Yourself from the Health Effects of Bad Air Quality

Wellness expert weighs in on poor air quality and how to stay safe
Photo: Shutterstock

We have all seen the apocalyptic Instagram pictures of major cities across the country due to the Canadian wildfires. The smoke coated cities with an ominous orange haze and the smoke was palpable, infiltrating homes. However, we didn’t see the health effects of the bad air quality.

What can you do to protect yourself and help your body recover from this exposure? Olivia Amitrano, certified clinical herbalist and founder of Organic Olivia, shares tips to fight these dangerous nanoparticles in areas dealing with bad air quality..

“It’s important we focus on dietary strategies to protect our lungs from the damaging free radicals and dry, irritating smoke around us,” says Amitrano. “From a ‘food as medicine’ lens, the general rule is that the lungs like warm, moistening foods that nourish the ‘yin’ (fluids) of the body. This is a time to focus on nourishing soups and stews that build up and soothe our mucous membranes. ‘Pungent’ is the flavor of the lung meridian in Traditional Chinese Medicine, so adding garlic, horseradish, mustard, ginger and/or onions to your meals and soups is extremely protective.”

1. Protect Your Throat

The dryness from smoke not only affects our lungs, but it also hits the mucous membranes of our ears, nose, and throat. Throat dryness and discomfort are extremely common when wildfire smoke is near, so using a moistening, soothing herbal throat spray can help protect from the bad air quality and keep you comfortable. 

Soothe Your Throat Spray is a convenient spray that can maintain throat health and comfort. This quick and easy spray contains a blend of soothing herbs that lubricate and relieve to keep your throat feeling hydrated to support vocal clarity and optimal wellness. 

2. Air Purifier

Get one now if you don’t have one. Amitrano prefers the Air Doctor brand. 

3. Raid Your Kitchen

Incorporate foods that help protect your body from the air quality. Some examples include garlic, apples, root, and tea.

  • Garlic is known to help protect the lungs. A 2013 study found that participants who consumed raw garlic on a regular basis as a part of their diet had a 44 percent decreased risk of developing lung cancer compared to those who consumed it less than two times per week. Sprinkle chopped raw garlic over your food to protect your lungs.    
  • Not only are apples both extremely moistening but they also nourish lungs and combat the extremely dry nature of smoke. Applesauce is amazing too. The flavonoids within apples can help open up your airways.
  • Astragalus Root helps support the weakness of the lungs and shortness of breath. People most affected by wildfire smoke are the elderly and those with pre-existing chronic illnesses so if you have a weakened immune system or an existing respiratory condition, add a few slices of dried astragalus root to your soups and teas. Astragalus is a supreme nourishing tonic for immune function when one is depleted or weakened and is traditionally considered a Spleen Qi (digestive) and Lung Qi tonic. 
  • Brew Mullein Leaf Tea has long been loved for soothing the lungs, aiding coughs, and helping the lungs recover after being exposed to smoke. It is a mild relaxant to the lungs and also a mild demulcent, meaning it moistens and soothes the mucous membranes. This tea will help with inflammation and dryness – the root causes of irritation for people with smoke exposure.

7. Try a Lung Protecting Tincture 

As an herbalist, Amitrano created Microbiome Guard to act as a lung support formula whether you’re coming down with a cold, quitting smoking, or protecting your lung from the free radicals in smoke. Designed to keep breathing easy, this tincture is made with a blend of herbs that help keep airways free and clear and protect the lungs from environmental irritants in the air. 

8. Mask Up 

Amitrano suggests using a N95 mask for compromised populations especially with lung issues.

About The Author
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Sophia is an intern for Well Defined. She is passionate about journalism and has focused on writing stories covering adoption, sports, and other topics as a staff writer and copy editor for her high school yearbook staff. She has achieved several high school journalism awards for her writing and has aspirations for a successful professional writing career.