It goes without saying that the lungs are a very important organ. Without them, you couldn’t breathe, and without breath, you cease to exist. They’re a part of the respiratory system, working with other organs and tissues to help you breathe, and every single cell in the body needs oxygen to live.
The lungs are what move oxygen into the bloodstream where it’s carried throughout the body when you inhale. When you exhale, the waste, in the form of carbon dioxide, is removed. But the lungs are tasked with a whole lot more than that, in fact, they make up a significant part of the immune system. Microbes and pollutants that can lead to infections are captured by mucus and moved upward by tiny cilia so that we can cough it out. Sneezing is yet another way lungs help us to get rid of infection or pollution, and often before the invaders are able to make it past the sinuses.
When the lungs aren’t functioning properly, your health suffers, which means you shouldn’t take them for granted. In order to maintain your good health, it’s a must to do everything you can to support the health of your lungs as well, which includes keeping them naturally cleansed and purified.
1. Deep Breathing Exercises
Practicing deep breathing exercises helps to strengthen your lungs, just like a workout in the gym helps to keep your body fit. It’s one of the most simple things you can do, but also one of the most beneficial.
Deep breathing is simply slowly inhaling while consciously expanding the belly. You allow your ribs to expand followed by your upper chest. Once you’ve taken a full inhale, you’ll exhale as completely as you possibly can by allowing your chest to fall, and then contracting your ribs. The last step is to bring your stomach muscles in and up by lifting the diaphragm and expelling the last breath of air. Repeat this five to 10 times, with the goal to practice once or twice every day.
2. Eliminate Household Toxins
The average household has been estimated to contain about 62 toxic chemicals, which includes chemicals that are part of cleansers, detergents, bleaches, things like chemically-scented air fresheners, as well as a wide range of cosmetics and personal care products. These toxins are all harmful to your lungs, and your overall health. Your first step is to look for chemical-free alternatives to eliminate as many as you can. There are lots of effective options that can easily be made right at home – do a quick Google search and you’ll find practically an endless number of recipes that use natural, chemical-free ingredients. There are also plenty of chemical-free substitutes available at health food stores, markets and online. We’ve compiled a list of our favorite natural cleaning products here.
3. Improve Your Indoor Air by Adding Plants
You also might want to consider investing in an air purifier to remove allergens and other irritants from the air in your home in addition to indoor plants. Plants not only bring life to any living space, many can help remove toxins as well, like these.
Peace Lily. This beautiful flower is a wonderful low-maintenance plant that does well in shade and cooler temperatures, in addition to reducing the levels of a number of toxins in the air.
Devil’s Ivy. This plant is a bit oddly named, as it’s more of an angel than a devil, due to its ability to make the air in your home more breathable, including battling a number of different toxic substances that you could be breathing in your indoor air.
English Ivy. English ivy is a species of flowering plant that’s been proven to reduce airborne mold by 94% – a significant benefit for those who suffer from allergies or lung irritation.
Bamboo Palm. This plant is an excellent formaldehyde remover, something that’s found in many carpets.
Snake Plant. The snake plant is not only good for those who have trouble keeping plants alive as it’s nearly impossible to kill, it’s been proven to be extremely effective in treating headaches, eye irritation, and respiratory problems, in addition to boosting energy levels during the day.
Spider plant. Spider plants are also great for people who have a difficult time with plants as they’re among the easiest to grow. They’re also known to remove hazardous compounds like xylene and formaldehyde.
Eucalyptus. Australian Aborigines have long used the leaves of the eucalyptus tree to create infusions that when inhaled, help to ease congestion, colds and fever, thanks to a compound known as cineole. The leaves of the eucalyptus plant are filled with compounds that can raise healthy fluids in the body’s air passages, and breathing in the scent of a eucalyptus plant can help to ease congestion problems and even ward off a cold.
4. Get Your Vitamin D
Research has shown that those with higher levels of vitamin D have better lung functioning. The experts believe that the vitamin helps to lower inflammation, which in turn boosts lung health. A 2014 study out of the University of London published in the journal Lancet Respiratory Medicine, found that taking vitamin D supplements was able to reduce COPD lung disease flare-ups by more than 40% in those who had a deficiency. COPD, or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, includes conditions like chronic bronchitis and emphysema.
At the end of the study, participants who took 100,000 international units (IU) of vitamin D every month, had improvement in respiratory muscle strength and were also able to exercise longer and more intensely as compared to those who didn’t. The recommended daily allowance of the vitamin in the U.S. is 600 IU daily for adults up to age 70 (800 for those over 70). In addition to supplements, be sure to get outside in the sun for 15 minutes a day in order for your skin to produce its own vitamin D naturally – there’s a reason it’s called the sunshine vitamin.
5. Exercise Regularly
Regular, moderately intense exercise is great for the lungs, helping to naturally cleanse and support them. While working out in itself won’t make the lungs stronger, it will help you get more out of them, according to Norman H. Edelman, MD, chief medical officer of the American Lung Association.
Edelman says that the “better your cardiorespiratory fitness, the easier it is for your lungs to keep your heart and muscles supplied with oxygen.” Aim for at least 30 minutes of moderately intense movement every day – and, if necessary, you can break it up into increments, such as 10 minutes at a time.
In addition, to support lung health, you’ll be supporting the health of your heart and a better mood at the same time.
6. Invest in a Himalayan Salt Inhaler
Considering all of the chemical pollutants, smoke, dust, smog, and pet dander so many of us are breathing in, our lungs are forced to function under an extreme amount of stress, but a Himalayan salt inhaler can help reduce those negative effects but cleansing the lungs.
Salt inhalation therapy has been around for centuries, used to boost lung capacity and overall respiratory strength. Research in the 19th century discovered that breathing the air in salt mines could reduce respiratory problems and irritation caused by air pollution. Salt is a natural cleansing expectorant and can help to reduce excess mucus and a stuffy nose too.
This Natural Solutions Himalayan Salt Inhaler is the most popular and best reviewed salt inhaler available on Amazon.
7. Drink Plenty of Water
If sputum isn’t cleared from the lungs, it can cause ongoing inflammation, which may lead to further lung damage as well as further deterioration of lung functioning. For optimal lung health, the lungs should be kept as clear as possible, and water plays a key role in that, as well as our general health.
Water keeps the blood flowing to and from the lungs, as well as keeping mucus flowing and the lungs hydrated. Staying hydrated can also help you improve oxygen levels as water is made up of two hydrogen atoms and one oxygen atom. Drinking plenty of water keeps you hydrated while also increasing oxygen in the blood.
8. Eat Foods That Promote Healthy Lungs
A healthy diet is a must for overall health, and that includes the health of your lungs. There are certain foods that are known specifically for boosting lung health that you’ll want to make sure you’re including in your diet, like these.
Cruciferous Vegetables. Cruciferous vegetables are simply any food that’s a member of the cabbage family, including cauliflower, kale, broccoli, and, of course, cabbage. These foods are loaded with chlorophyll and powerful antioxidants that naturally help the body rid itself of toxins. They’ve also been shown in scientific research to stop the progression of lung cancer and reduce the risk of developing lung cancer in half.
Brightly Colored Vegetables. Those brightly colored vegetables, particularly red and orange veggies like carrots, are loaded with carotenoids, an orange antioxidant pigment that has the ability to lower the risk of developing cancer. Carrots are extra beneficial thanks to their high beta carotene count. Beta carotene is converted to vitamin A which can help decrease asthma attacks. These bunny favorites are also high in lycopene, which reduces the risk of developing lung disease.
Dark Berries. Berries like raspberries, blackberries, and blueberries are loaded with antioxidants that help to lessen the risk of lung cancer, as well as many other diseases and infections.
Omega-3s. Omega-3 fatty acids are essential for overall health. Eating a diet that’s high in Omega-3s helps to reduce inflammation in the body, which is essential for good lung health. Excess inflammation is also a key component of asthma. An ongoing study conducted by the University of Rochester Medical Center released some early data which revealed Omega-3s offer anti-inflammatory effects on human lung cells and can stop cigarette smoke-induced lung damage in disease models. The experts believe that future studies, which will take place over the next few years, will demonstrate that omega-3s can be used to prevent inflammation and speed the repair of lung injury from short- and long-term cigarette use. Foods that are rich in these beneficial compounds include things like wild-caught salmon, coconut oil, nuts, and flaxseed.
9. Spice It Up
There are a number of herbs and spices that can improve lung health, so be sure to spice your meals up as often as you can. You’ll get more flavor, and help ensure your lungs function at their best.
Turmeric. Turmeric is one of nature’s most powerful healers. It contains an active compound known as curcumin which provides potent anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties. It works to protect the body from free radical cells and destroy mutated cancer cells, preventing them from spreading throughout the body. Research has found that consuming turmeric regularly may prevent or reduce symptoms in lung conditions like COPD, asthma, emphysema, pneumonia and lung fibrosis caused by radiation.
Ginger. This flavorful spice is easy to incorporate into lots of dishes, and it offers anti-inflammatory properties that help to clear the air passages of pollutants and other irritants before they have time to reach the lungs. Ginger can also relieve congestion, and improve circulation to the lung, reducing symptoms of many chronic lung diseases like bronchitis.
Garlic. A 2013 study conducted by researchers at China’s Jiangusu Provincial Center for Disease Control and Prevention, demonstrated that adults who regularly consumed garlic were significantly less likely to develop lung cancer. The researchers determined that garlic, consumed just two times a week, could potentially cut the risk of developing lung cancer in half.
“Protective association between intake of raw garlic and lung cancer has been observed with a dose-response pattern, suggesting that garlic may potentially serve as a chemopreventive agent for lung cancer,” the researchers wrote, noting that adults who habitually consumed the herb were 44 percent less likely to suffer the disease.
10. Cut Your Sodium Intake
Limiting your sodium intake can help to reduce excess fluid and bloating as well as help your lungs. Eating too much salt, including sodium that’s found (often in high amounts) in prepackaged and processed foods, fast foods and restaurants), causes the body to retain water, which makes breathing more difficult. When the lungs are able to breathe easier, that ups your oxygen levels which help you to feel better overall.
11. Maintain an Optimal Weight
Being overweight negatively affects health in multiple ways, and that includes lung health. If you’re overweight, your heart has to work harder, which makes it more challenging for oxygen to be delivered to the rest of your body, and, excess fat in the abdominal area, in particular, can place pressure on your diaphragm, which makes it more difficult to breathe.