Many of us pay very little attention to our lungs and take them for granted. Yet, they are one of the most vital organs without which we cannot possibly live, for even a few minutes.
While the body has a natural system to keep your lungs healthy, there are a few steps that you can take to support and improve your respiratory health.
Here is what you can do.
1. Stop Smoking
Smoking is the main factor behind chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), emphysema, chronic bronchitis and other lung diseases. It can constrict your lungs, thereby making breathing more difficult. (1)
Research says that smoking can cause significant damage to your lungs. Asthma, wheezing and persistent coughing are some of its effects. Over 80 percent of deaths from lung cancer and COPD are due to smoking. Furthermore, cigarette smoking can restrict the airways in your lungs, damage the lung tissue, increase inflammation and phlegm production. (2)
2. Watch out for Indoor Pollutants
There could be pollutants and chemical hazards in your home that you may not be aware of. They can cause a number of health problems detrimental to your lung health as well. You should get your home tested for the hazardous element called radon. Some areas have naturally high amounts of this harmful material, so it’s important get your home tested. Try to use as many natural products as possible for cleaning your home and other domestic purposes. Synthetic chemicals can result in allergies and breathing problems.
It may not sound obvious, but indoor air pollution is often worse than outdoor air pollution. This surprising assertion was made by the US Consumer Product Safety Commission. That is why those people who spend a lot of time indoors are at a higher risk. Unfortunately, this applies to most of us since our lives are becoming increasingly sedentary. (3)
Make sure that you clean your furniture and carpets regularly. Try to keep the windows open in order to increase the circulation of fresh air inside. You can use aromatherapy essential oils and diffuser to keep the indoor air fragrant instead of using toxic air fresheners loaded with synthetic chemicals like benzene and formaldehyde. Make sure that you install ventilation, especially in smaller indoor spaces like the kitchen and bathroom.
Apart from quitting tobacco, regular exercise is one of the best things that you can do to protect and strengthen your lungs. It can keep your body in shape, including your lungs and heart.
Exercise forces your lungs and heart to work harder and pushes them to their limits. That’s how regular exercise can make your lungs and heart more efficient and keep your body well oxygenated. The lungs get better at absorbing oxygen and expelling carbon dioxide.
One study measuring the effect of exercise on our respiratory health found that strenuous physical activity, including exercise, can take your breathing from 15 breaths per minute to 60 breaths a minute. Aerobic exercise is important as it can help your lungs to work harder and take in more breaths per minute and strengthen them.(4)
Aerobic exercise is one of the best workouts for your lungs. The muscles between your ribs must work harder to expand and contract for faster breaths. As a result, these muscles get stronger with regular cardio. The air sacs in your lungs also become better at absorbing more oxygen from the air you breathe.
Strong and healthy lungs reinforced through exercise are the key to prevent chronic diseases and slow down aging. Even if you suffer from a lung condition at some point in your life, exercise may help to reduce the severity of your symptoms, keeping you active for a longer time period.
4. Avoid Getting Infections
Infections can be dangerous as you age because they may seriously affect your lungs. People with lung conditions have a higher risk of lung infections. Healthy senior citizens may develop pneumonia if they are not cautious enough.
One of the best ways of avoiding getting infections is to wash your hands regularly with soap and water for 20 seconds at least. You should also avoid touching your face as far as possible since germ-laden hands can transfer dangerous germs, bacteria and viruses into eyes, mouth and nose.
5. Deep Breathing
Something as simple as deep breathing can do wonders for your respiratory health. According to the results of one study, deep breathing for just a few minutes can enhance your vital capacity – the maximum amount of air that your lungs can expel. Deep breathing can improve your lung function, decrease stress and provide several other benefits to your body as well. For these reasons, the American Lung Association recommends the practice of deep breathing. (5)
Here is a blog post on the many other benefits of meditation and breathing practices.
6. Avoid Outdoor Pollution
You should try to avoid places with heavy traffic to stay safe from vehicle emissions. Don’t leave your car window open in such areas. Close your windows and use air conditioning for a continuous flow of filtered air.
7. Coffee and Tea
Coffee and tea are rich in caffeine, which may have some benefit for respiratory health. Caffeine is a bronchodilator, that is, it enables the airways in your lungs to expand, letting in more air in the process. This effect can last up to 4 hours. Keep in mind that caffeine is a weak bronchodilator and not a substitute for bronchodilator medications. (6) (7)
8. Antioxidant Support
Last but not least, glutathione is a key antioxidant that protects the delicate lining of your lungs to maintain their function. In fact, it is the most highly concentrated antioxidant in the epithelial lining fluid of the lung airways, with the concentration being 100 times greater than that seen in plasma making it essential to support respiratory health.
Glutathione also neutralizes xenobiotics, scavenges free radicals, performs DNA synthesis and repair, apoptosis, as well as immune system support, all of which are crucial for improved lung health.
North American Nutra’s Selenex GSH has a superior blend of clinically studied ingredients shown to increase glutathione levels by 68% and antioxidant power by 133%.
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