The Importance of Healthy Lungs – Top Ways to Protect Them
The Health of Your Lungs
Every single day we breathe about 20,000-30,000 times. That means your lungs are constantly working! This number increases with activity and decreases with rest! These crucial organs are continually delivering oxygen to the rest of your bodies organs and cells. Hindering the work of your lungs can in turn do the rest of your body a huge disservice.
Maintaining healthy habits can be extremely helpful to the health of your lungs. In order to keep them healthy, and functioning properly you can follow these tips:
Toxins are everywhere! Sometimes they are avoidable, however, sometimes they are not. Typically, it is much more difficult to avoid toxins and pollution that can be dangerous to your lungs when they are outdoors. These dangers can come from cars, factories, etc. Since these toxins are sometimes unavoidable, it’s in your best interest to try to avoid and prevent indoor toxins–as these are far easy to avoid.
One very preventable indoor toxin category is cleaning supplies. When looking at the ingredient list on your cleaning supplies, it’s easy to confuse it for a foreign language. Often times there are a variety of different chemicals that can sometimes be harmful to inhale. Certain chemicals can also be carcinogenic. If you’re unsure of the ingredients in your cleaning supplies you can consult the Environmental Working Group’s Guide to Healthy Cleaning. This can be a great resource to learn more about what’s safe and what isn’t!
Another indoor toxin to avoid is asbestos. Asbestos is a naturally occurring mineral that was widely used in construction and building products before the 1980’s. It is heat and fire resistant, so it was favorable to use in products like insulation, flooring, siding, adhesive compounds, etc. Unfortunately, disturbed and airborne asbestos is extremely dangerous. When inhaled, the fibers can stick to the mesothelial tissue in your body, and cause a variety of problems like chronic asbestosis, lung cancer and a very aggressive cancer called mesothelioma. Mesothelioma comes along with a grim prognosis, and most people diagnosed are given between 12-21 months to live. Always be cognizant of asbestos in your home. If you suspect you have it, consult a professional to have it looked at and removed.
Possibly the number one lung toxin to avoid would be cigarette smoke. With 7,000 known chemicals in cigarettes, over 250 are known to be harmful–even cancer causing. That is why it is not only the leading cause of lung cancer, but of cancers and cancer deaths in whole. Cigarette smoke causes over 480,000 deaths in the U.S. each year, without about 36% being cancer related. Even if you are not a smoker yourself, secondhand smoke exposure increases your risks of developing lung cancer, or even heart disease by 20-30%
Cardiovascular exercise can leave you feeling breathless, however, over time you begin to feel your lungs working harder and smarter, with aerobic exercise your lungs become more efficient in getting oxygen to the rest of your body. Not only does it help your body get oxygen, it helps your body to remove carbon dioxide and other waste products. A buildup of carbon dioxide and waste can lead to serious respiratory complications.
The Department of Health and Human Services recommends getting 150 minutes of moderate aerobic exercise or 75 minutes of vigorous activity weekly. Of course, you can always do a combination of the two. Moderate exercise would include activities like a brisk walk, mowing the lawn, swimming or a relaxed bicycle ride. Activities that are considered more vigorous could include running, bicycling long distance, hiking, and weight training. If you feel as though you might have a health complication that would interfere with exercise consult your doctor!
Your diet and nutrition play a huge part in your overall health, and by planning meals to include particular ingredients, you can improve your lung health just by eating! Of course, you must also consider the other two factors discussed.
One respiratory symptom that can be remedied by food is inflammation. There are a handful of foods that have anti-inflammatory properties that can be helpful for not only your lungs, but the rest of your body. Symptoms of inflammation, specifically in the lungs, include shortness of breath, shallow breathing, headache and joint and muscle pain. Aid in the recovery of this by adding garlic, ginger, turmeric and/or cinnamon to your diet!
Foods that are high in antioxidants are also very favorable for your lungs. You can lower your risk of developing lung cancer by consuming dark berries such as blueberries, blackberries and raspberries. Similarly, cruciferous vegetables like broccoli and cauliflower can help you cleanse your lungs! They are also high in chlorophyll which cleanses blood and helps create new blood cells.
Want to detox your lungs? Try spicy foods like cayenne, chili and curry. These ingredients liquefy mucus in your nose, throat and lungs! It can help cure symptoms of coughing, wheezing, congestion and other respiratory problems. Chili peppers specifically have capsaicin which, in addition to liquefying mucus, helps stimulate blood flow and fights infection
If you feel like you’re missing important and helpful nutrients from your diet you might want to consider taking vitamins and supplements. Multivitamins can be great additions to any daily diet. They allow you to take in nutrients that you might not have gotten from your regular meals, and they can lead to better overall body function. However, you don’t want to overdo it. Balance is key when it comes to food and supplements. Always consult your doctor before beginning a dietary supplement. They can help guide you to choose an option that best suits your health needs.
Do your body a favor!
Take care of your lungs. They are crucial in the proper functioning of your body. Be sure to avoid toxins, particularly cigarette smoke, exercise regularly and eat well. Your body needs your lungs in order to function, so maintaining their health is crucial to your comprehensive well being!
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