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 Veg
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 which help inactivate carcinogens and protect cells from damage. The most well-known examples of cruciferous vegetables are broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, and Brussels sprouts.
This orange antioxidant pigment has been shown to reduce the risk of developing lung cancer. 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 benefits your lungs as well. Omega-3 can be found in fish, nuts, and flaxseed, and can improve lung function and increase lung capacity by reducing inflammation in the airways.
This root is a powerful antioxidant and a natural anti-inflammatory which can clear the lungs of any lingering pollution. Gingerol reduces excess mucus 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.
This herb is great at helping maintain a healthy immune system as it's 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.
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 people with chronic, obstructive pulmonary diseases.
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 can be found in guavas, oranges, kiwis, and bell peppers. A diet rich in vitamin C helps your lungs transport oxygen throughout the body. If you consistently consume foods rich in vitamin C 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.
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%.
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