Why do we need strong lungs?
Without healthy lungs, the simple act of breathing can be strenuous, and speaking or laughing requires additional effort. Stronger lungs also allow us to do activities that lead to a fuller life with more ease, like exercise, hiking, cycling, and running.
The reality, however, is that many people still forget to take care of their lungs, which may then lead to the development of debilitating ailments. Here in Ireland alone, about 500,000 people suffer from Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD), with The Journal reporting that around half aren’t even aware of their condition. COPD symptoms include breathlessness, chronic coughs, and chest infections. It is also a chronic illness and a major contributing factor to the high number of people being admitted to hospital in Ireland.
Another alarming lung related illness is pneumonia. In fact, it’s the most common fatal infection among children worldwide, as Save the Children reveals that 880,000 youngsters died to the disease in 2016. The sad news is that 11 million children are expected to suffer from pneumonia up until 2030. Numbers aside, these estimations outline the importance of lung health, especially in children.
Of course, it goes without saying that adults should be just as wary. Keeping your lungs in tiptop shape will significantly boost your protection against the aforementioned illnesses and other worrying lung infections.
Life and Fitness Magazine’s article on how to become a mindful eater suggests paying attention to the nutrients that enter our body. While there’s no claim that eating healthy food will reverse lung-related illnesses, these specific nutrients can make them stronger and more resistant to infection.
The purpose of antioxidants is to combat harmful substances, or toxins, that enter the body through different means, not just smoking. Even non-smokers can develop lung cancer through exposure to pollution, second hand smoke, and other chemicals. Antioxidant-rich food include different types of beans such as kidney; berries particularly acai and cranberries; green vegetables such as broccoli and kale; and fruit such as pineapple and apricot. The food contributes to the fight against cell damage in the lungs and boost their overall health.
The red-orange colouring found in carrots, onions, and bell peppers are called beta-carotene. This pigment is essential in the process of producing Vitamin A, which experts note is healthy for the lungs especially for seniors.
Omega-3 fatty acids
A study on omega-3 fatty acids published in the Journal of Immunology suggests that this substance can be the key to clearing up lung infections. As mentioned, patients with COPD suffer from persistent bacterial infections, which can turn fatal if not treated immediately. Omega-3 fatty acids can help minimise the risk of infections. They are found in fatty fish such as sardines and salmon as well as plant-based sources such as walnuts, chia seeds, and hemp oil.
Bananas aren’t just rich in potassium; they’re also a reliable source of magnesium. The nutrient can enhance peak flow in the lungs especially in children and teenagers who suffer from asthma. You can also eat lots of spinach, pumpkin seeds, Swiss chard, and dark chocolate to make sure your body’s getting enough magnesium on a daily basis.
Vitamins A, C, D, E
The mother of all fruit – when it comes to lung protection – is the apple. A team from St George’s Hospital Medical School found that apples are a healthy source of vitamins C, E and beta-carotene which produces vitamin A. Another important component that can reduce the number of asthma attacks is vitamin D, found in green leafy vegetables, soybeans, fish, orange juice, and breakfast cereal.
Other precautionary measures
Aside from eating well, other things you can do for optimal lung health include practicing breathing techniques, staying hydrated, and exercising. Of course, it’s important that you work towards eliminating detrimental vices such as smoking.