Over 500 million people worldwide live with asthma and other respiratory conditions, and this number continues to rise. Besides avoiding air pollution and practicing breathing exercises, nutrition is critical in improving lung health. But unfortunately, it is overlooked. Choosing the right foods can maintain healthy lungs, keep inflammatory levels in check, and fight oxidative damage in the body. Scroll down to learn about the best foods to enhance lung health.
Citrus fruits like oranges are rich in vitamin C and B6, which help carry oxygen to the lungs. They also contain antioxidants that fight inflammation and infections and keep the lungs healthy. Studies have found that the vitamin C in citrus fruits can help fight asthma that results from exercising or when the airways are narrowed down because of strenuous activity.
Lentils are rich in essential minerals like magnesium, copper, potassium, iron, and fiber, which improve lung health and even protect against conditions like COPD and lung cancer. Since a Mediterranean food plan is rich in legumes like lentils, experts recommend it as one of the healthiest choices for people with poor lung health.
Beets are an excellent superfood for those looking to enhance lung health. They are considered “red bombs” that increase the body’s oxygen levels, relax blood vessels, and reduce blood pressure. Eating this root vegetable regularly can improve diaphragmatic contractions, making breathing easier. Beets have also been proven useful against the symptoms of viral respiratory infections.
Using peppers in different recipes is a great way to enhance flavor while enjoying health benefits. The hot flavor and health benefits of peppers are due to an active compound called capsaicin. The heat from this compound loosens the mucus in the mucus membrane, making it easier to be eliminated from the lungs. Studies suggest that capsaicin can also prove useful in fighting cancer metastasis.
Those who love pumpkin pie will be glad to learn that this dessert is not only tasty but also healthy. Pumpkins are rich sources of beta-carotene and antioxidants like vitamin C, which help lower inflammation and protect against lung cancer. Individuals who are not a fan of pumpkins can snack on pumpkin seeds to enjoy the health benefits. Adding a few seeds to a bowl of Greek yogurt can make the dish more appetizing. Thanks to the health properties of pumpkins, we now have all the more reason to look forward to Halloween!
Turmeric is one of the most used traditional remedies for inflammatory conditions. It can also be used as a preventative measure to keep the lungs healthy. The spice works well as a lung cleanser to eliminate the built-up mucus inside the organ. It can be added to food preparation or be had in the form of a chewable. Adding black pepper powder to food along with turmeric helps increase its efficacy. If adding turmeric to food does not sound appetizing, one can brew turmeric tea.
Tomatoes are packed to the brim with health benefits. They are one of the few foods with the antioxidant lycopene, which can help people with respiratory conditions like COPD and asthma strengthen their lungs. The anti-inflammatory nature of tomatoes also helps repair the damage caused to the lungs. Including tomatoes in food preparation is easy. It can add taste to sandwiches, gravies, and curries or be turned into a salsa sauce.
Grapefruit is rich in water content, perfect for staying hydrated on a hot summer day. It also has many antioxidants that help fight oxidative damage caused to the cells of different organs, including the lungs. Further, the fruit has anti-inflammatory properties, decreasing the chances of further cell damage. Grapefruits carry a flavonoid, naringin, that regulates cell cycles.
The powerful flavors and notes of garlic are perfect for enhancing food taste. But that is not its only benefit. The spice is also helpful for improving lung health by fighting respiratory infections owing to its antiviral and antibacterial properties. One can use garlic in various recipes, from pasta to roast chicken.
Tea is among the most popularly consumed beverages across the globe and has been in existence for centuries. Green tea packs several health benefits. Drinking it frequently has been known to have anti-inflammatory effects on the body. The beverage has catechins, a type of antioxidant proven effective against cancer. They help mitigate the growth speed and spread of cancer cells and help fight the disease to a certain extent.
Besides eating the foods mentioned above, staying hydrated is critical to enhance lung health. Water keeps the lung tissue hydrated and the mucus lining thin. This helps in the smooth movement of mucus. With optimum hydration, the cilia in the lungs also find it easy to expel mucus from the organ. A dehydrated body will have difficulty dealing with the built-up mucus and fighting off the infection. Drinking enough water also helps maintain the consistency of blood and its flow from the heart and lungs to other organs. If unsure, one can consult a nutritionist to determine how much water one should drink daily depending on age, activity levels, and the weather.