Did you know the foods we eat can affect our lung health? It’s not just about the gut – a number of vitamins and minerals play a massive role in the function of the lungs. Here are 5 foods to add to your plate.
Turmeric is a well-known anti-inflammatory ingredient beloved the world over – from warming lattes to aromatic curries, soups and even veggie bakes, there’s no shortage of places to add in a good dose of turmeric. But it’s the curcumin in turmeric that gets the credit for its health benefits, especially when it comes to improving lung health. Research found that curcumin significantly improves lung function, even in smokers, and those who consumed the most had the greatest lung capacity. Those with a high intake were found to have an over 9% higher lung capacity that smokers who skipped out on the curcumin, proving how promising this compound is – and turmeric is just the place to get it! Pure turmeric powder has been found to have the highest amount of curcumin as opposed to other forms of turmeric, and it just so happens to be the more convenient form to cook with! Sprinkle some over your soup or add it to your coffee for a good kick.
There may be some truth to the age-old adage – an apple a day keeps the doctor away. Well, that might be an exaggeration, but at the very least it’ll give you a health boost. Research shows that regular consumption of this crunchy fruit improves the function of our lungs, with one study finding lower levels of lung decline in ex-smokers who ate apples. Another study found that just 5 apples a week promotes better lung function and significantly reduces the risk for developing chronic obstructive pulmonary disease – this is a group of conditions which block and restrict air flow, causing breathing and breathing-related problems. An apple a day may even reduce your risk for asthma and lung cancer as a result of its antioxidants, according to research.
Dwight Schrute was onto something with his prosperous beet farm – these brilliantly-coloured vegetables, from the roots to the leafy greens of the beet, are loaded with antioxidants and other nutrients known to protect the lungs. Some of the healthful compounds in beets are known as nitrates, and these have been found to relax the blood vessels, thereby lowering high blood pressure and increasing our uptake of oxygen. Research shows that beetroot supplements increased the physical endurance of those with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and pulmonary hypertension – a condition that involves high blood pressure in the lungs.
Green tea is a known antioxidant powerhouse, boosting everything from our brain to our gut and, yes, our lungs too. The anti-inflammatory qualities of this tea are responsible for its benefits, and one of these benefits includes the slowing of fibrosis – this is the process of scarring of bodily tissue. The antioxidants in green tea also help treat or reduce the risk for the development of pulmonary fibrosis, a condition known for dangerous and progressive scarring of the lungs – and it’s the epigallocatechin gallate, an antioxidant, which is responsible for this protection. A study found that just 2 weeks of consuming this antioxidant significantly reduced pulmonary fibrosis.
Capsicum is not just good for your lungs, but for your whole body – and one of the more impressive nutritional assets of these fruits is their vitamin C content. They pack a whopping 160% of the recommended daily intake (RDI) in just one cup – leaving oranges in the dust with their 80% of the RDI. While we think of vitamin C primarily in the context of its immune-boosting properties, it’s also a powerful lung health promoter too. This vitamin is of great importance to smokers – as a result of the damage cigarette smoking causes to our cells, DNA and lung health, it’s essential to consume more vitamin C to prevent dangerous consequences. In fact, smokers are recommended to take an added 35 grams of vitamin C every day, and while this won’t counter the effects of smoking, research shows that smokers with a greater vitamin C consumption have higher lung function and capacity than those who don’t keep up on the vitamin.
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