The lungs are an essential part of human life. Our lungs work almost tirelessly, pulling air in and eliminating out what can’t be used over and over, day and night. Breathing brings in oxygen and expels carbon dioxide, a waste product of metabolism. Breathing is also essential for our ability to speak and sing.
The lungs are made of hundreds of thousands of branching tubes that end in tiny air sacs called alveoli. Did you know that there are over three hundred million of these tiny sacs in our lungs? All of them work together to keep up with the respiratory demands of the body and maximize the exchange of gases.
Our lungs make up a large part of our immune system too. Pollutants and infectious-causing microbes are captured by mucus in the lungs and are then shuttled upward for us to cough out or swallow. Sneezing is another mechanism that the lungs help us to rid of infection and pollution, often before these invades even pass beyond the sinuses.
The lungs are actually remarkable, and they should be cared for:
First and most importantly, do not smoke. Smoking destroys the cilia that help remove infection and pollutants, resulting in blocked airways.
Second, do your best to avoid pollutants both indoors and outdoors. However, this is difficult and isn’t always possible to do. Try limiting your exposure to environmental toxins. For example, wear a mask or respirator when painting or doing any hobbies that include dust or industrial gases. This helps more than you think!
Exercise is also important. It doesn’t necessarily strengthen the lungs as they rely on the diaphragm muscle, but any improvement of the cardiovascular system making the job of the lungs easier! Get moving for thirty minutes each day to lighten the load on your lungs and increase the efficiency of oxygen transportation and metabolism. These thirty minutes don’t have to be all at once and can even be broken up throughout the day. Try parking further away from the grocery store, take the stairs instead of the elevator, get up from your work desk and walk around the office, do some jumping jacks, walk your neighborhood, or even run on the spot for a bit. Anything is better than staying on the sofa!
What we eat can affect the health of our lungs too. For example some foods can create excess mucus that makes it more difficult to eliminate pollutants.
Also, our food indirectly touches the lungs through the cardiovascular system and by supporting the immune system which provides protection.
Eating well goes hand in hand with exercise for keeping your lungs strong and healthy, and not overburdened. Fresh, raw, and unprocessed foods are the best way to get the enzymes, vitamins, and minerals that will keep you breathing easy!
12 Healthy Foods for Healthy Lungs
Water plays a huge role in health and is the base of any cleansing action. Pure, clean water is essential to keeping blood flowing to and from the lungs. It also keeps our lungs hydrated and the mucus flowing which moves toxins, microbes, and pollutants out.
- Garlic and Onions
These pungent foods are great for the heart and thusly the lungs too!
They help to boost the immune system to help fight off any foreign invaders.
- Ginger and Turmeric
These spices have immune boosting properties and promote the elimination of pollutants from the lungs.
- Chili Peppers
Peppers are filled with capsaicin, the spicy compound that gives them their kick! Capsaicin promotes blood flow, stimulates mucus membranes and helps to fight off infection.
- Cruciferous Vegetables
Cabbage, cauliflower, broccoli, and kale have high levels of chlorophyll that helps to cleanse our blood and support the health of our lungs.
Pomegranates and their juice contain many vitamins that boost the immune system and thusly, the health of our lungs. Pomegranates contain Ellagic acid, a property which is especially important for supporting lung health.
Flavonoids, vitamin C, and vitamin E all support the lungs to function at their best. Apples are rich in all of these properties and promote healthy lungs.
Grapefruit and the flavonoid Naringin which it contains, are especially good at cleansing the lungs after quitting smoking!
- Beans, Seeds, and Nuts
These all contain rich amounts of magnesium, a mineral that contributes to healthy lung function.
Carrots are rich in vitamin A, vitamin C, and lycopene, which are all immune boosters that affect lung health and lower the chances of developing lung disease.
Citrus fruits are rich in vitamin C and vitamin B6. These help the lungs transfer oxygen, as well as support healthy immune function.
Pumpkin is another food rich in beta carotene and vitamin C, like carrots.