The lungs are a vital respiratory organ, located near the backbone on either side of the heart. Their main function is to carry oxygen from the environment into the blood stream and to release carbon dioxide from the blood stream into the atmosphere. The body’s cells need the oxygen to work and grow.
The lungs never rest. In just one day, a healthy person breathes almost 25,000 times. The body has a natural defense system developed to protect the lungs. This works extremely well most of the time, keeping out dirt and fighting off germs. However, a number of harmful substances can damage the air passages and threaten the lungs’ capability to work properly, which can result in lung disease.
Some typical lung diseases are asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), bronchitis, pneumonia, emphysema, cystic fibrosis, tuberculosis, lung cancer and acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS). People with lung disease have difficulty breathing and some diseases can even result in breathing failure.
There are many things that you can do to keep your lungs functioning properly. Easy lifestyle changes, dietary changes and healthy practices can be extremely useful for your lungs. Here are a few of the methods to keep your lungs strong and healthy.
If you smoke, it is time to quit to improve the condition of your lungs. Cigarette smoke includes countless damaging chemicals, some of which can trigger health problems. In fact, smoking is the major reason for major lung diseases like lung cancer and COPD. Cigarette smoke can narrow the air passages and make breathing harder. It causes chronic inflammation or swelling in the lungs. With time, cigarette smoke can destroy lung tissues, which in turn increases your threat of lung cancer. If you struggle with any sort of lung disease, giving up smoking can help manage your condition and improve your lifestyle. Be determined to quit smoking and get help from experts if required.
Avoid Secondhand Smoke
Non-smokers should avoid exposure to secondhand smoke to improve the condition of their lungs. Secondhand smoke is extremely toxic and can trigger havoc to your lungs and your total health. Here are some things you can do to avoid secondhand smoke:
- Do not let other people to smoke in your home, vehicle or office.
- Support businesses and activities that are smoke-free.
- Avoid public locations that permit cigarette smoking.
- Stay at smoke-free hotels when traveling to avoid residual smoke from previous patrons.
Limit Your Exposure To Pollutants
In addition to cigarette smoke, there are different other toxins present in the air that are hazardous for your lungs as well as overall health. Even the artificial scents used in different laundry items and air fresheners emit harmful chemicals.
- Avoid highly polluted and industrialized areas.
- Do your bit to reduce outdoor pollution and help create a cleaner environment. For instance, whenever possible, walk or ride your bike instead of driving.
- When building or redesigning your home, select environment-friendly choices like formaldehyde-free cabinets, linoleum instead of vinyl flooring, low or no VOC paints, etc.
Improve Indoor Air
In a late 1980s NASA study, it was discovered that a number of houseplants function as natural air purifiers as they filter out common volatile organic compounds (VOCs) including formaldehyde, benzene and trichloroethylene.
- Use a minimum of 2 houseplants per 100 square feet of space. These plants must remain in 10- to 12-inch pots.
- Get indoor plants such as a fern, spider plant, peace lily, bamboo palm, aloe vera, English Ivy, dracaena, and others. Make certain to keep the foliage dust-free. Also, do not overwater the plants as it might cause mold growth.
- Minimize the use of harsh cleaners and cleaners with strong fragrances.
- Stop using aerosol sprays.
- Ensure adequate ventilation.
Do Deep Breathing Exercises Daily
Breathing feeds oxygen to every cell in the body. Without sufficient oxygen, people are more vulnerable to lung problems as well as cardiovascular disease. With regular deep breathing exercises, you can easily reinforce your lungs. It can likewise help clear out toxins that might have built up in the lungs. This in turn helps improve lung performance and clear airways.
- Take a seat in a relaxing and quiet place.
- Close your eyes, and breathe in deeply through your nose.
- Count to 5, slowly inhaling the entire time.
- Hold your breath for a few seconds, then exhale slowly.
- Repeat this breathing exercise 6 to 8 times.
- Perform this deep breathing exercise every day to help cleanse your lungs and keep you stress free.
If you are unable to master the art of deep breathing, join a breathing club where people with lung and breathing problems can learn more about this method.
Play A Wind Instrument
You can play a wind instrument like a flute, oboe, tuba, saxophone, mouth organ or clarinet to improve your lung health. You have to use your lungs’ ability to the max to play any of these instruments. This provides your lungs a regular exercise and helps improve their air capacity. Learn how to play a wind instrument to increase your lung capability. Likewise, singing works the diaphragm and keeps your lungs healthy. If music and singing are not for you, aim to blow a balloon using deep breaths to increase lung capacity. Blow a few balloons daily to improve your lungs’ ability to pump more air, stronger and longer.
Eat the Right Foods
The right mix of nutrients in your diet can help with healthy lung functions and clean your lungs of harmful toxins.
- Include detoxifying and antioxidant-rich foods and herbs like garlic, onion, cayenne pepper, ginger, oregano, turmeric, pomegranates, apples, grapefruit, green tea, peppermint, lungwort, chaparral and lobelia in your diet.
- Include great sources of protein like milk, cheese, fish, nuts and poultry in your diet to help maintain strong breathing muscles.
- Eat folate-rich foods like lentils and black beans to protect your lungs from chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). Shortness of breath due to COPD is frequently associated with low intake of folate.
- Pick complex carbs, such as whole-grain bread and pasta, fresh fruit and vegetables. At the same time, limit simple carbs, such as table sugar, sweet, cake and regular soft drinks.
- Opt for monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats that do not contain cholesterol. Limit foods that contain trans-fat and saturated fat.
Be Active With Regular Exercise
Working out is a terrific method to increase lung capability. With routine exercise, it will be simpler for your lungs to keep your heart and muscles well provided with oxygen. This in turn will help you enjoy a much healthier heart and a better mood.
- Perform rigorous cardiovascular activities for at least 20 minutes, 5 days a week. Cardiovascular exercises reinforce the muscles that surround your lungs.
- Try aerobic exercises, such as walking, dancing or cycling, a couple of days a week. Due to the short bursts of intense training during aerobic exercises, your lung capacity will develop a lot.
- Swim for thirty minutes, a few times a week.
If you are just beginning to exercise, consult a trainer to find out which kind of exercises are best for your existing condition. Likewise, keep in mind that during exercise you take deeper and more frequent breaths. So, do not exercise outdoors during rush hour.
Maintain Proper Hygiene
Individuals who are more susceptible to lung infections, which can lead to breathing troubles, need to practice proper hygiene. Proper hygiene helps avoid common transmittable breathing diseases like colds and the influenza.
- Wash your hands completely with soap and water.
- Use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer when you do not have access to soap and water.
- Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue or scarf while coughing or sneezing.
- Avoid crowded places during the cold and influenza season.
- If you get sick, stay home from work or school till you are feeling much better.
- Vacuum your home, particularly the carpets and rugs, regularly. Consider using high efficiency particulate air (HEPA) vacuum.
Get Regular Health Checkups
Regular health checkups can help keep your lungs healthy and operating properly. Remember, when it comes to your health, prevention is always much better than the treatment. Most lung diseases go undiscovered till they are serious. However, during a health examination, doctors can easily examine the condition of your lungs and pick up any trouble signs early.
Constantly speak with a physician if you experience signs of lung problems, such as shortness of breath during simple activities, pain when breathing, lightheadedness with a change in activity, or a persistent cough. Take any medicines prescribed by your physicians timely and do not stop your medications on your own, as it can lead to major consequences.