The ability to breathe normally is something most of us take for granted, but if you suffer from respiratory health issues, such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) or asthma, you have probably developed a new appreciation for the moments when you can take a nice, deep breath. Poor lung function can significantly impact quality of life and healthy lifestyle choices are paramount. One of the best things you can do for yourself is eat a diet rich in nutrients linked to healthy lung function.
Anti-Inflammatory Food Choices
Inflammation is a major culprit in the genesis of many types of diseases and a worsening of symptoms in others. Inflammation in the lungs severely restricts functioning and keeping it at bay will help you breathe easier. Eating an anti-inflammatory diet is really not that complicated and mainly involves food choices that you should be making anyway. Choose whole grains over refined ones. Eat more omega-3 fatty acids and fewer omega-6 fatty acids. Foods rich in the former include flax, hemp, walnuts, salmon and other oily fish. Foods rich in the latter include cooking oils such as sunflower, safflower, mixed vegetable oil, soy and corn—many packaged foods use these oils so read labels carefully. Limit trans fats as much as you can, they offer no health benefit whatsoever.
Specific Nutrients Linked to Lung Health
Research has found that low levels of certain nutrients in the diet have been linked to increased risk of developing respiratory health issues; including these same nutrients in the diet has also been found to improve lung function in people suffering from breathing difficulties. When it comes to improving your respiratory health, particularly important nutrients appear to be vitamins A,C, and E as well as the minerals selenium and magnesium.
Foods rich in vitamin A include carrots, pumpkin, sweet potatoes, spinach, beef liver, cantaloupe, peppers, mangos, black-eyed peas and apricots. Good sources of vitamin C include peppers, citrus fruits, kiwi, broccoli, strawberries, potatoes, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower, tomatoes and spinach. Vitamin E can be found in high amounts in wheat germ, sunflower seeds, almonds, hazelnuts, olive oil, spinach, broccoli and peanuts. Whole wheat bread, brown rice, eggs, brazil nuts, tuna, turkey, chicken, sunflower seeds and walnuts contain high amounts of selenium. Good sources of magnesium include bran, almonds, spinach, cashews, soybeans, potatoes, peanuts, lentils, kidney beans and wheat germ.
Mediterranean Style of Eating
Studies have found a lower incidence of asthma in areas that follow a style of eating that has now been termed the ‘’Mediterranean diet,’’ which suggests nutrition may be responsible for better respiratory health. This style of eating focuses heavily on healthy fats– such as those found in avocados, olives, olive oil, nuts and seeds, legumes, whole grains, fish, fruits and vegetables. Dairy, eggs, and meat are eaten sparingly.
When we are faced with health problems, we can sometimes feel like we have no control and we must just live with the situation as it is. But, in reality, we have a lot more control than we realize. Lifestyle choices, like what we choose to eat, can make a huge difference in symptoms and overall quality of life. Empower yourself with the knowledge that you can take an active part in your health and start making better choices today.
About the Author: Kelli Cooper is a freelance writer who specializes in health and wellness content. Improving indoor air quality is crucial for better breathing; check out Rabbit Air for more information on air purifiers for your home.