Friday, June 21, 2013

Hazy Days in Singapore - a mother's worry

Every year between the months of May through October, haze falls upon Singapore.  This is caused by transboundary smoke from land and forest fires. These annual fires are caused mainly by land clearing and “slash and burn” agricultural practices in Indonesia, particularly Sumatra and Kalimantan. This year we hit the record high of 401 PSI (Pollutants Standard Index) and we don't know if it would still climb. Or until when this unhealthy range stays on. And according to the National Environment Agency of Singapore, this is hazardous level.  

PSI ValueAir Quality Descriptor
0 - 50Good
51 - 100Moderate
101 - 200Unhealthy
201 - 300Very unhealthy
Above 300Hazardous
Bright and sunny Singapore skyline which normally looks like this
Is now transformed into some ghost town, a scene straight out from a creepy movie :(

With the haze around, it can result in eye, nose and throat irritation.  People with history of sinus problems or sensitive nose are more likely to develop nasal congestion, sore throat and coughing.  There may be increase occurrence of skin irritations as well for those with eczema and other skin conditions. 

Children are more vulnerable to respiratory problems should the haze persists due to the fact that they have faster breathing rates and that their lungs are still developing. :( 

Now, if it's just me and the hubby, I would not worry that much.  But with the little one around, worry meter is up 100x.  We have done the necessary precaution of staying indoors and closing all the windows, but still my worry meter hasn't lowered down a notch.  I am just hoping and praying that this would be over soon.

Here are some precautions I gathered from the Health Foodies Singapore FB Page:

The haze in Singapore is creating several breathing ailments. One of the things your body does is build up mucus in the breathing tract as it tries to fight the pollution. It is the mucus that can become infected and result in illness. Her...e are some ideas to help your body deal with it naturally:

1. Add generous amounts of ginger, cayenne pepper, horseradish, onion and garlic to your diet. These herbs help your body to break up the unhealthy mucus in your lungs. You can use up to 3tsp a day of cayenne. Sprinkle on food if you love the heat, or dissolve in water and drink it.

2. Add a few drops of rosemary oil to a humidifier and spend 10 minutes a day breathing over it with a towel over your head until your lungs feel clearer. Rosemary oil vapor dilates the bronchial tubes which relieves congestion by breaking up unhealthy mucus. You can also boil up eucalyptus and mint leaves and inhale the vapor.

3. Drink plenty of water regularly. Good hydration allows all organs, including the lungs, to refresh themselves by staying moist and flushing out toxins. 2-4 glasses upon rising, followed by a glass of water every 90 minutes throughout the day is recommended.

4. Avoid mucus-forming foods such as dairy, meat, eggs, white flour, sugar.

5. Increase your intake of green tea. Green tea contains EGCG, an antioxidant that protects lungs from cellular damage.

6. Increase intake of vitamin C, D and E supplements. These are powerful antioxidants. Look for products containing 15,000 IU of mixed carotenoids, including beta-carotene. Try and find supplements that are made from natural sources, not synthetic ones.

7. Be extra vigilant about washing your hands and brush your teeth at least twice a day. Rinse mouth and gargle with 1tsp natural salt in warm water. Avoid touching escalator rails, public door handles etc.

8. If you do yoga, practice Pranayama - yogic breathing and cleansing exercises. Do this indoors for now, and when the haze clears do it a lot outdoors.

9. Increase your intake of fresh fruits and vegetables, notably broccoli, oranges, corn, carrots, mushrooms, onions, apples, tomatoes, fennel, berries, grapes, spinach, garlic. Raw is best!

10. Cordyceps and Reishi mushrooms. These Chinese medicinal mushrooms are useful in promoting optimal respiratory efficiency and protecting against lung diseases.

11. Use a neti pot with a salt and water solution daily to rinse out the nasal cavity. Use a third of a teaspoon to 2 cups warm water. Use daily.

12. Try out fennel, flax and fenugreek tea, a strong lung protector. Recipe here:

13. Take a teaspoon of raw or Manuka honey 3 times a day. Let it dissolve in your mouth and slide down the throat. It relieves dry throat and is a powerful protector.

14. Limit outdoor exercise and exhertion until the haze clears.

 Please avoid outdoor activities, drink lots of water and stay safe Singapore!

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