I am writing this article for my fellow Malaysian and Singaporean friends who have to endure the horrible haze every year (August to September) from open burning in Indonesia.
Lingering smoke from forest fires on the Indonesian island of Sumatra are identified as the primary cause. Farmers regularly burn the forests to clear land during the dry season for agricultural purposes, but every year the haze seems to hit worse.
Any PSI (Pollutants Standard Index) that hits 300 and above is considered hazardous. On several occasions, the PSI had reached alarming readings of above 400 in Malaysia and Singapore, and at emergency level of 2000 in some parts of Indonesia!
Why there has been no solution to this hazard by the governments, I have no idea; despite that this annual open burnings have been recurring every year for more than a decade.
How Haze Can Affect Your Health
I personally know many people who are affected by the extreme haze. Depending on one’s health and strength of immunity system, length of time exposed to the pollution, and the severity of the pollution, an individual may suffer from various adverse effects:
- Irritated and watery eyes, and/or conjunctivitis (eye inflammation);
- Runny and stuffy nose, sneezing
- Asthma attacks, bronchitis (lung inflammation), lung infections, chest pain
- Throat irritation, dry throat, sore throat and/or coughing
- Headache, dizziness and/or fatigue
- Diarrhea and/or stomach upset
- Anxiety, stress with depression-like symptoms
- More severe skin breakouts such as acne, eczema, psoriasis
- More severe allergies taking place
How To Protect Your Health Against Air Pollution (Haze)
The media does a good job of educating the public on practical and external precautions to take. However, not many talk about building the immune system and resisting the inflammation from the inside out. Here is my advice to some who asked me, with a juice recipe at the end.
- Reduce/eliminate foods that are highly acidic: Animal protein, flour and sugar products, dairy products, fatty and oily foods, processed foods.
- Take a high quality probiotics to help strengthen your immune system. According to the dosage on the box, it is completely safe to take one dose in the morning, and one in the evening. Probiotics help your body to reduce allergic reactions to the free radicals inhaled from the pollution.
- Good alternatives to probiotics supplements are fermented foods such as: Kombucha, kimchi, sauerkraut, miso, tempeh, yogurt, kefir, etc. Fermented foods are excellent foods that protect gut health which strengthen the immune system, while at the same time, reducing the damages done by the pollutants.
- Get yourself a high quality vitamin C that comes with bioflavonoids. This is important to protect and at the same time, reduce the damages done by the pollutants in the body. Taking 2000mg/day (1000mg in the morning and 1000mg in the evening) of vitamin C with bioflavonoids is completely safe during a haze situation where you had some exposure to the pollution. Up to 5000mg/day (1000mg every hour) is also helpful should you feel a sore throat coming.
- It is also important to take your Omega 3 fish oil and vitamin E as anti-inflammatory that will minimize damages done by the free radicals. Take them according to the dosage suggested on the bottle.
- Drink plenty of water if you have been outdoor during haze. Know the minimum amount of water you need to drink according to your body weight. Then at least 1 to 2L above that. Just keep flushing your system with water to remove as much toxins as you can. You may also add a pinch of natural sea salt in your drinking water that will help your body cells absorb the water and the minerals. This is also a great tip for reducing sore throats and nasal congestion.
- Eat a few red or orange colored foods every day as they have the richest antioxidants content. Some examples are orange, lemon, pomegranate, beetroot, yellow/red peppers, berries, tomato, persimmon, papaya, etc. If you can drink them in juice form, even better, as it feeds your cells directly, increasing the ability to detoxify of the pollutants.
- Add these anti-pollutant foods in your meals as much as you can: parsley, cilantro, garlic, ginger, turmeric, leeks, onions, bean sprouts and all green leafy vegetables.
- Drink a glass of green juice every day if you can. This juice recipe below has the necessary ingredients to detoxify. Also check out other possible juices that are cleansing from this page.