The ability to breathe properly is fundamental to good health. Don’t take the health of your respiratory system for granted, even if you are not a smoker. Simple dietary and lifestyle steps can help promote healthy lungs – start today:
- Don’t smoke. Tobacco addiction is the single greatest cause of preventable illness, greatly increasing the risks of developing lung cancer and respiratory diseases.
- Get regular exercise. It helps promote healthy lung function and optimal oxygen delivery throughout the body.
- Practice deep breathing exercises to increase lung capacity, improve respiratory efficiency, and promote general relaxation.
- Maintain normal weight. Excess pounds tax both the heart and lungs. If you’re overweight, you’re more likely to experience shortness of breath.
- Avoid exposure to environmental air pollutants. High ozone levels, smog, car exhaust, asbestos and metal dusts are unhealthy for lungs and can lead to lung disease. Use a HEPA (high-efficiency particulate air) filter to reduce exposure to smoke and smog, and wear a protective mask when you are in close proximity to lung irritants such as drywall dust or fiberglass insulation fibers.
- Limit exposure to toxic household cleaners. Chlorine bleach, petroleum distillates, ammonia, formaldehyde and nitrobenzene can harm the lungs. Use safer alternatives for cleaning such as baking soda, lemon juice, and vinegar.
- Monitor your breathing. See your doctor if you have a prolonged dry cough, shortness of breath or difficulty breathing.
- Increase the quality of air you breathe. Consider investing in a HEPA-style air filtration system for your home and office.
- Install a carbon monoxide detector in your home.
- Practice good hygiene all the time, not just during cold and flu season. Regular, frequent hand washing may prevent upper respiratory infections, which are potential precursors to more serious lung issues. Soap and water are just as effective as antibacterial soaps, and are better for the environment.
- Keep well hydrated. Maintaining proper fluid balance and moist respiratory tissues is critical for optimal respiratory functioning, immune surveillance, and oxygen exchange.
- Eat more food with beta-carotenes. Peaches, melons, mangoes, sweet potatoes, squash, pumpkins, tomatoes, dark leafy greens, winter squash and carrots all contain carotenoids – antioxidant compounds which may help minimize the risk of developing lung cancer.
- Eat more apples. These pomaceous fruits promote overall lung health, likely due to their high concentration of anti-inflammatory flavonoids such as quercetin.
- Daily multivitamin. Look for products containing 15,000 IU of mixed carotenoids, including beta-carotene.
- Vitamin C. This water-soluble vitamin can provide additional protection against the oxidative effects of air pollution and smoke.
- Coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10). This powerful antioxidant can improve the use of oxygen at the cellular level.
- Cordyceps and reishi mushrooms. These Chinese medicinal mushrooms may be useful in promoting optimal respiratory efficiency and protecting against chronic lung disease.
- B vitamins. Especially B-6, may help protect against lung cancer by supporting immune function.
- Vitamin D. This fat-soluble hormone may help prevent the cellular changes that promote lung cancer.
- Aspirin. A daily aspirin may reduce the risk of lung cancer through its anti-inflammatory properties.
- Mullein. The flowers and leaves of this Mediterranean native can help relieve dry, bronchial coughs and help alleviate chest congestion.
- Zhu ling (Polyporus umbellatus). This mushroom may be particularly useful in protecting against lung cancer: Research suggests it may help stimulate the body’s immune response against lung tumors.