Lung disease and associated respiratory problems are a growing issue. We can all maintain healthy lungs by not smoking, ensuring we exercise regularly and avoiding polluted air where possible. However, a less widely known way we can look after our lungs is by tailoring our diet. Studies have shown that the food we eat has an impact on our lungs, and that some can even have a positive impact on lung function.
1. Cruciferous Vegetables - These are vegetables in the cabbage family. They are packed with antioxidants, which help cleanse the body of harmful toxins. They also contain glucosinolates - chemicals that are broken down to form active compounds that help inactivate carcinogens and protect cells from damage. The best examples of cruciferous vegetables are broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage and brussel sprouts.
2. Carotenoids - This orange antioxidant pigment has been shown to reduce the risk of lung cancer developing. One way to recognize a carotenoid is by color. Carotenoids are typically found in fruit and vegetables with orange, red or yellow shades. Sweet potatoes, butternut squash, and apricots are foods with high amounts of carotenoids. Carrots are particularly good for the lungs as they contain beta carotene, which converts into vitamin A, a vitamin shown to considerably reduce the likelihood of asthma.
3. Omega-3 fatty acids - It is well known that this fatty acid is good for your overall health. What is less publicized is that it particularly benefits your lungs. It is a fatty acid, which is found in fish, nuts and flaxseed, and can improve lung function and increase lung capacity by reducing inflammation in the airways.
4. Garlic - This herb is a staple in helping maintain a healthy immune system because it is a natural anti-inflammatory. Recently, a study from the journal Cancer Prevention Research revealed how eating raw garlic twice a week was found to halve the risk of developing lung cancer. Garlic has high levels of allicin - a natural antibiotic - which fights both bacterial and fungal infections in the lungs.
5. Ginger - This root is a powerful antioxidant and a natural anti-inflammatory which can clear the lungs of any lingering pollution. The gingerol works at reducing excess mucus being produced while the compound 6-shagaol can stop bronchial tubes from tightening. Ginger also relaxes the tissues in the muscles that line the lungs, making it easier for asthmatics to breathe. Ginger slices can be added to tea, and it also makes delicious cookies.
6. Magnesium - Foods such as seeds, nuts, or beans are all rich in this mineral. Magnesium is a natural anti-inflammatory and has been found to increase lung capacity and improve the efficiency of the respiratory process. It is recommended for asthmatics and for people with chronic, obstructive pulmonary diseases.
7. Pomegranates - This fruit is nutritionally dense in antioxidants and anthocyanins, two plant-based nutrients which have anti-carcinogenic properties. Research has found that this combination is particularly effective at slowing the growth and spread of harmful cancer cells. Pomegranate seeds taste delicious in a salad or make a delicious fruit juice.
8. Vitamin C - This vitamin is found plentifully in guavas, oranges, kiwis, and bell peppers. A diet rich in this vitamin helps your lungs effectively transport oxygen throughout the body. If you consistently include Vitamin C in your diet, studies suggest that the health of your lungs will deteriorate at a slower rate and you will be less likely to develop respiratory conditions like bronchitis and asthma. It has also been shown to prevent the occurrence of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, which causes shortness of breath.
9. Pineapple - Pineapples are rich in bromelain, an enzyme that reduces inflammation of the sinuses. It’s also a natural way to treat pulmonary edema - a condition that stops fluids from properly draining from the lungs, resulting in shortness of breath. Research has shown that eating bromelain-rich food reduces inflammatory white blood cells by 85 percent.
10. Water - Ok, so water is always recommended for good health, but it is often said to be the number one natural remedy for your lungs. Water aids your circulatory process by keeping your lungs sufficiently hydrated, and ready to flush out toxins. Here are some tips to get you drinking more water.
|Bonus Video: Researchers Developing Artificial Lungs|