Your lungs are among the most important organs in your body as they help you breathe. However, you may not think of their importance until you experience a respiratory problem. Respiratory diseases such as pneumonia, lung cancer, bronchitis, and asthma have been on the rise over the past decade due to environmental, lifestyle and biological factors.
After the COVID-19 pandemic, many people realized how vulnerable they are to respiratory diseases and began adjusting their lifestyles to ensure that they keep their lungs healthy. There are ways to optimize your lung health including adding certain foods to your diet.
Like other organs, your lungs benefit from certain nutrients. Here are some of the best foods to fight respiratory diseases.
Legumes such as beans, peas and peanuts are rich in fibre and proteins which help improve lung function. Fibre contains anti-inflammatory properties which keep inflammatory diseases like asthma in check. On the other hand, proteins aid in the breathing process. The lungs are made up of muscles that are constantly contracting and expanding. Proteins ensure these muscles have enough energy to perform this function effectively.
If you suffer from respiratory diseases like asthma, you need to eat more fatty fish to keep your lungs healthy. Research shows that Omega-3 fatty acids can improve breathing difficulties in people who suffer from asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. It can also stop lung damage caused by smoking. This is because omega-3 fatty acids are a rich source of anti-inflammatory properties which act as a purifier for the lungs.
Eating your veggies every day could have a positive effect on your lung health. They are rich in antioxidants and phytochemicals which protect your lungs from free radicals that can cause cancer and other chronic illnesses. Some of the best vegetables to add to your diet include carrots, celery, and broccoli. For those who struggle to eat vegetables, try adding them to smoothies for a delicious and healthy snack.
Chili peppers are some of the best sources of Vitamin C which helps boost lung function. In fact, people who smoke are encouraged to eat lots of foods rich in Vitamin C to boost antioxidants and counter the damaging effects of cigarette smoke. Additionally, capsaicin in chili peppers stimulates mucus secretions which protects the respiratory tract. Eating just one medium-sized pepper provides the recommended daily intake of Vitamin C.
This colourful and versatile root is mostly used to spice foods and beverages. However, many aren’t aware of its immense nutritional value. It’s a powerful source of antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties which are essential in warding off chronic diseases. It contains a compound known as curcumin which is especially helpful to the lungs. This compound reduces the activity of toxins that create inflammation resulting in chronic illnesses. Turmeric also helps break down mucus offering relief for coughing and blocked airways.
Apples are some of the best foods for your lungs. They contain the nutrients needed for healthy lung function such as fibre, Vitamin C and Vitamin E. They also contain an antioxidant flavonoid known as quercetin which offers protection to the lungs from pollutants. The combination of Vitamins and flavonoids makes apples the ideal fruit to eat to lower the risk of respiratory diseases like asthma and lung cancer.
Though underrated, pumpkins are jam-packed with nutrients and are classified as a superfood. They offer great benefits to the lungs since they are rich in carotenoids which have powerful antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. Additionally, they are an excellent source of Vitamin C which is key in fighting infections and strengthening the immune system. Their high magnesium content helps with muscle recovery which in turn helps the lungs work effectively.
Coffee lovers, assemble. It turns out that your favourite morning beverage not only wakes you up but also keeps your lungs healthy. Coffee can make breathing easier as it’s a mild bronchodilator, meaning that it has a relaxing effect on the lungs. This opens up the airways and makes it easier to breathe. People who suffer from asthma are more likely to experience fewer symptoms once they start drinking coffee regularly. However, drinking too much coffee can have a negative effect on your breathing since it accelerates your heart rate making it hard to catch up on breathing.
Blueberries are another superfood that you should add to your diet if you want healthy lungs. They contain a variety of nutrients including a flavonoid known as Anthocyanins. These are powerful pigments that have been shown to protect lung tissue from oxidative damage and slow down the lungs’ natural decline as you age. Research shows that eating 2 servings of blueberries a week can keep your lungs healthy.
There are many benefits of drinking green tea regularly including fighting respiratory diseases. Green tea contains potent anti-inflammatory properties which reduce the risk of contracting respiratory diseases. Additionally, it has antioxidant properties which help keep the lungs clean. Whether you’re a smoker or not, this is necessary since you breathe in toxins every day. Drinking a cup of green tea every day provides these benefits. You can add ginger, lemon or honey to make it more nutritious.