There are several factors that can affect lung health, including physical activity levels, genetics and environmental conditions. Diet also plays a key role in respiratory health, and incorporating a few of the best foods for your lungs into your diet is a simple strategy that can decrease inflammation, improve pulmonary function and help heal your respiratory tract.
In addition to supplying a wealth of important vitamins, minerals and antioxidants, these foods have also been researched for their ability to enhance lung health and protect against a number of respiratory conditions.
Filling your plate with a few of the best foods for your lungs can help decrease inflammation, improve airway function and protect against certain types of pulmonary disease. Here are a few of the best foods for your lungs and airways.
Not only can an apple a day keep the doctor away, but apples may also help promote better lung health as well. One study published in The European Respiratory Journal reported that apples could help slow declining lung function over a 10-year period, especially for former smokers.
Green tea is brimming with antioxidants and polyphenols that can be beneficial for lung function, including epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG), which has been shown to help suppress lung cancer cell growth in in vitro studies. Green tea also contains theophylline, a powerful compound that acts as a bronchodilator to improve airway function and ease breathing difficulties.
What’s more, other research shows that regular consumption of green tea could be linked to a lower risk of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), a group of progressive lung diseases that can cause shortness of breath, coughing and wheezing.
Garlic possesses powerful anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties that can help protect against oxidative stress within the lungs and throughout the body. What’s more, one study out of China even found that consuming raw garlic at least two times per week was associated with a lower risk of developing lung cancer over time.
Ginger is a potent spice that has been extensively studied for its medicinal properties, especially when it comes to lung health. In one animal model, administering ginger to rats was effective at decreasing lung damage and protecting against inflammation and excess oxygen levels.
As one of the top lung cleansing foods, salmon is a great source of anti-inflammatory omega-3 fatty acids. Some research suggests that these heart-healthy fats could help promote pulmonary blood flow and may be beneficial for certain respiratory conditions.
One study conducted by the Centre for Research in Environmental Epidemiology in Barcelona even found that consuming higher amounts of omega-3 fatty acids was associated with lower markers of inflammation in those with COPD.
Preliminary research suggests that the anti-inflammatory properties of turmeric could aid in the treatment of several respiratory conditions, including asthma, COPD, acute respiratory distress syndrome, lung injury and pulmonary fibrosis.
Processed ingredients, trans fats and fried foods are often classified as bad foods for lungs as they can promote inflammation and increase the formation of harmful free radicals. Other foods like processed meats, sugar-sweetened beverages, refined vegetable oils and added sugars should also be limited as part of a healthy, well-rounded diet.
Additionally, keep in mind that diet is just one piece of the puzzle when it comes to lung health. Exercising, not smoking and avoiding indoor and outdoor pollution are other important strategies that can help keep your lungs healthy and strong.
If you have any respiratory conditions or experience any side effects like coughing, wheezing or difficulty breathing, be sure to talk to a trusted healthcare professional to find the best course of treatment for you.