Nowadays, people take for granted the importance of keeping their lungs healthy. Certainly, people know the basics: that smoking is extremely bad for their body, and that people can still get lung cancer despite never having smoked a cigarette in their whole life.
Lung health is more than just not smoking, however; it’s about being proactive in keeping your body healthy and ready to take on any physiological challenges. Now, if you’re looking for ways to take care of your lungs, read on.
This one is pretty obvious. Regular workouts, especially cardiovascular exercises promote better lung capacity.
The truth is that lung capacity naturally goes down as people age. Decreased lung capacity often leads to the lowering of oxygen intake, effectively impairing metabolic function and decreasing stamina and endurance during regular physical activities. Lack of oxygen also increases the risk of heart attack and stroke. Mentally, you can also experience a decline in general focus, concentration and memory.
Ultimately, low energy and general fatigue come along with decreased lung capacity.
The powerful combination of a larger lung capacity with healthy lungs allows the body to transport oxygen throughout the body at a much faster and more efficient rate. Consider exercising underwater or at higher elevations — both scenarios require your lungs to work harder to supply the oxygen to your blood. Also, include cardio activities in your exercises whenever possible.
You already know this. Just in case you don’t know, smoking is responsible for 87 percent of all lung cancer deaths, according to the National Institutes of Health. The American Lung Association reports that chronic lung disease accounts for nearly 73 percent of all conditions related to smoking among people who currently smoke and nearly 50 percent of smoking-related conditions among former smokers or those who have given up the habit. The bottom line is – just quit it!
Then again, there is also the huge factor of second hand smoking, and it is best if you can avoid it. Second hand smoke is a serious health hazard causing more than 41,000 deaths per year. It can cause or worsen a wide range of damaging health effects in children and adults, including lung cancer, respiratory infections and asthma.
Clean up your indoor air
Here’s something that’s not known to most people. While pollution is prominent in the outdoors and most especially in the city, people usually don’t think about the idea of having equally dirty indoor air, or aptly coined as indoor air pollution.
Usually, indoor air quality problems only cause discomfort. Most people feel better as soon as they remove the source of the pollution. However, some pollutants can cause diseases that show up much later, such as respiratory diseases or cancer. It can also help if you use a whole house air purifier to ensure a healthy living area, and to lower the risk of long-term respiratory ailments.
First and foremost, the air inside the average home can be laden with toxins. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) considers indoor air pollution to be one of the top five environmental risks to public health. Making sure that your building is well-ventilated and getting rid of pollutants can also improve the quality of your indoor air.
The best thing to do to minimize this type of pollution is to use whole house fans to draw clean air in and exhaust polluted air out. You can clear out the clutter and use an air filtration system. Also, as stated above, it is highly recommended to eliminate all cigarette smoking inside your home to finally clear the air at home.
Eat for a better lung health
It’s important to eat a healthy diet for the lungs, including eating lean protein for strong muscles, complex carbohydrates for energy, and colorful fruits and vegetables for their antioxidants and immune-boosting properties.
Cruciferous Vegetables (cabbages, broccoli, cauliflower, etc), foods with carotenoids (carrots and other colorful veggies), foods with omega-3 fatty acids (fish, nuts, flaxseed, etc), garlic, berries, apples, and grapefruit are just basic examples of the different types of foods you can eat to improve your lung health. A lot of them are also naturally delicious!
Also, increase your water intake. Water plays a huge role in health and is the basis of any cleansing action. Pure, clean water is essential to keeping blood flowing to and from the lungs. It also keeps your lungs hydrated and the mucus in your body flowing. It may sound disgusting, but that mucus is important and needs to be at the right consistency for the cilia to move it—along with toxins, microbes, and pollutants—out.
If you’re carrying around excess body fat — particularly belly fat — consider dieting because stored fat in this location can squash your lungs making breathing more difficult.
Protect against infection
Prevention is always better than a cure, and lung health is no different. It’s best if you can find yourself vaccines as early as possible, while also generally avoiding pollutants on the job and at home.
Flu vaccinations are an absolute must, and anyone 65 or older should consider getting the pneumococcal vaccine as well. Also, it is recommended that anyone aged 65 or over should receive two pneumococcal vaccinations: the pneumococcal conjugate vaccine first, followed by the pneumococcal polysaccharide vaccine in the next six to 12 months.
The American Lung Association reports that more than 22,000 workers in 2008 developed lung disease related to their jobs as a result of occupational lung diseases such as asbestosis, occupational asthma, mesothelioma, silicosis, and sick building syndrome.
On the job, whether you’re a construction worker, miner, chef, hair stylist, auto repair shop worker, or painter, it’s important to take safety precautions seriously and follow protocols to avoid unnecessary exposure. In the home, consider using a whole house fan to draw pollutants out of your home, and clean carpets and upholstery at least two times a year.
There are several things you can do to protect yourself from respiratory infection from work and at home:
- Wash your hands often with soap and water. An alcohol-based cleaner is a good substitute if you cannot wash.
- Avoids crowds during the cold and flu season.
- Good oral hygiene can protect you from the germs in your mouth leading to infections. Brush your teeth at least twice daily and see your dentist at least every six months.
- Get vaccinated every year against influenza. Talk to your healthcare provider to find out if the pneumonia vaccine is right for you.
- If you get sick, it’s more than advisable to keep it to yourself. Protect the people around you, including your loved ones, by keeping your distance. Stay home from work or school until you’re feeling better.
Know the warning signs of lung disease
Early detection is your best friend when it comes to lung disease.
The American Lung Association recommends consulting your physician as soon as you notice any of the following signs:
- Chest pain (especially when you breathe or cough)
- Chronic cough
- Chronic production of mucus
- Coughing up blood
- Shortness of breath
Keep all these things in mind. It is needless to say that lung health is of high importance when it comes to a human’s overall wellness. It affects numerous bodily functions, from mental prowess to physical capabilities, and having unhealthy lungs simply compromises one’s overall performance.