By Cheshire Que, RND, RN, RD
Lung problems can range from as simple as cough that resolves after a few days to more debilitating serious illnesses such as COPD or Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary disease and the dreaded lung cancer. The best way to prevent damage to your lungs is to stop smoking. It may sound cliché but smoking tobacco is literally inhaling poison. The same goes for second hand smoking. Therefore, exercise your right to breathing clean air. Do not passively subject your lungs to pollution just because you do not wish to offend a friend or a family member. Politely express your discomfort or excuse yourself. They won’t provide you with new lungs neither would they shoulder your medical expenses when your lungs fail you.
Avoiding smoking may be the best way to be kind to your lungs but it does not end there. There are more ways to give your lungs some tender loving care.
Practice deep breathing
We seldom breathe deeply not unless we are gasping for air in the middle of a strenuous activity or when we release pent up energy when we’re upset. Mindfully taking deep breaths several times a day expands your lungs to its full capacity. You take in more air to oxygenate your blood and vital organs. Take deep breaths upon waking up, when you’re stressed out at work, when you are relaxing and before going to bed. It is a calming experience as breathing decreases your heart rate and blood pressure.
Be physically active
To be more specific, regularly do cardio or aerobic exercises. A good two and a half hours of moderate intensity exercise a week is recommended. The respiratory rate increases during exercise making one take in more oxygen in the body thus improving pulmonary function and lung capacity.
Eat a healthy diet
Protein sources such as fish, chicken, lean meat, and eggs boost your immune system. Lung diseases such as cancer and infections are associated with oxidative stress and free radical formation due to microorganisms, environmental pollutants, and smoking. Vitamin C, A, and phytonutrients act as antioxidants in the body. These nutrients are abundant in fresh fruits and vegetables. Incorporate yellow, orange, and red fresh produce like watermelon, tomatoes, carrots, oranges, lemon, bell peppers, and even dark green ones like malunggay in your diet.
Did you know that we also lose water through respiration? It is important to hydrate oneself throughout the day. Additional water intake is needed before, during, and after exercise too. Water prevents formation of mucus or if you have a colds or productive cough, it aids in thinning out mucus and expel phlegm.
Breathe through your nose
Breathing through the nostrils has more benefits than breathing through the mouth. For one, the nose has filters that will protect your lungs from harmful foreign bodies. Sneezing or sternutation occurs to expel irritants. Studies have also shown that breathing through the nose produces nitric oxide which promotes cardiovascular health. It improves blood circulation and prevents clotting and plaque formation in the arteries.
Follow these simple ways to enhance the function of your lungs.