Apples, Garlic, Turmeric, Oranges, Bell Peppers, Beets, Pumpkin, Blueberries, Lentils, Water and Green tea are the best foods for Lung health.
With the COVID-19 pandemic turning our worlds upside down, we have now grown accustomed to constant hand sanitization and mask-wearing. However, perhaps the most horrifying stories from the pandemic survivors and losses were how badly the coronavirus can affect our lung capacity and respiratory system. Moreover, with increasing levels of air pollution, especially in metropolitan cities, mask-wearing might become mandatory. According to the World Health Organization, around 91% of the world’s population lives in areas whose air pollution levels exceed WHO’s parameters. Hence, now it is more important than ever to choose the foods that boost our lung health.
11 Must-Have Foods for Lung Health
While it is technically not food, water is the basis of our being and our planet’s existence. 70% of the human body is water content, and hydration is the most important aspect of staying healthy. Drinking water also keeps the passage of the respiratory tract free of impurities like dirt particles. It also stops mucus from building up and complicating your respiratory health.
Who hasn’t heard the old saying an apple a day keeps a doctor away? Well in this case the saying is literally true. Apple contains phytonutrients, Vitamin A, Vitamin C, Flavonoids, and antioxidants which improves your lung health. In fact, a study by the John Hopkins’ Bloomberg school of public health shows that daily consumption of apples helps repair the lungs of heavy smokers. In fact, a natural reduction in the deterioration of lung health is observed in people who have consumed apples on a daily basis.
Garlic and Onions
These two vegetables, when added to any dish, make it taste like magic. But did you also know that consuming raw garlic, in a study conducted by American Association of Cancer Research, was proven to improve the respiratory health of smokers by 40%! Garlic has a high content of organo-sulfur compounds (OSC), which are the reasons behind most of its therapeutic properties like antibacterial, antiprotozoal, antifungal, and anticancer properties. Garlic and onions have several mechanisms that enable them to improve lung health.
Turmeric is another magical spice that has so many great therapeutic qualities. To boost your immunity, Haldi-doodh or turmeric milk has been a popular hit in Indian Ayurveda for many years now. Even doctors and scientists have recommended the consumption of one hot glass of milk or water with a pinch of turmeric in it, to start your day. Turmeric contains high amounts of curcumin. Curcumin helps in breaking down cancer cells and also relieves chest tightness that causes bad lung health. In a scientific study conducted by the Journal of Clinical and Diagnostic Research, 70% of the bronchial asthma patients got relief from daily consumption of a good amount of curcumin in their diet.
Yes, oranges are good for your lung health too! They contain a high amount of Vitamin C, antioxidants, and Vitamin B6 which has anti-inflammatory properties. When pollutants and dust particles enter our lungs through the respiratory system, they cause inflammation in our lungs which weakens the lungs and makes us vulnerable to lung-health-related diseases. The anti-inflammatory quality of oranges will help us to boost lung health by fighting these diseases.
Bell Pepper and Cayenne Pepper
Peppers are one of the major sources of Vitamin C, which is a water-soluble vitamin. This vitamin is rich in anti-oxidant properties which should be taken 35mg more by smokers than non-smokers, according to the National Institutes of Health. This shows how Vitamin C can improve lung health and reduce oxidative stress. Even passive smokers will benefit from Vitamin C.
Beets and beet greens
Beetroot and beet greens have a high quantity of nitrates and they help to improve lung function by helping blood vessels relax by reducing blood pressure and optimizing oxygen intake.
Beetroot supplements also improve the physical health and lung function in people with chronic lung conditions, like COPD and pulmonary hypertension, where high blood pressure occurs in the lungs.
Additionally, beet greens have magnesium, potassium, vitamin C, and carotenoid antioxidants, which benefit lung health.
Pumpkins contain a high quantity of carotenoids, including beta carotene, lutein, and zeaxanthin —these are strong antioxidant and anti-inflammatory chemicals. A high level of carotenoid ensures better lung function due to strong lungs. Heavy smokers also benefit from a carotenoid-rich diet. In a scientific book named Public Health Implications of Raising the Minimum Age of Legal Access to Tobacco Products, published by National Academic Press, studies show how 25% of lesser carotenoid concentration can harm smokers.
Blueberries are loaded with nutrients like anthocyanins, including malvidin, cyanidin, peonidin, delphinidin, and their consumption has proven to improve lung health. The anthocyanin content of blueberries prevents oxidative damage to the lung tissues. In fact, a scientific study in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition shows how blueberries reduce the lung damage by 38%.
The benefits of lentils are not new, but the high content of magnesium, potassium, and calcium are beneficial for improving lung health. The Mediterranean diet is very popular for boosting lung health, and it includes a high amount of lentils in it. The high fiber content of lentils helps to fight cancer and COPD as well.
Epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG) is a catechin that is present in green tea. It has antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties that control fibrosis and the anti-bacterial quality of green tea cleanse the respiratory tract of any possible lung infection that might be developed.
Of course, a good diet alone cannot improve lung health by leaps and bounds. Coupled with regular breathing exercises, a healthy lifestyle, avoiding pollution as much as possible, and not smoking, these foods can surely strengthen your lung health.