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8 Tips to Keep Your Lungs Stronger for Longer

by Cynthia Cross, MSN, CCRN, APRN

The importance of lungs is often not considered, at least not till any problem is experienced in breathing. And even though everyone wants to lead a healthy lifestyle and stay fit and healthy, not much thought is given to maintain the health of the lungs.

The main function of the lungs is to provide oxygen to capillaries so that the blood can be oxygenated. As the lungs expand, the air is sucked in for oxygen, and as they compress, the carbon dioxide is released during exhalation.

Lungs are not only one of the most important organs of the body, but they are also even the most active ones. The lungs never rest. In just one day, a healthy person breathes nearly 25,000 times.

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Common Lung Diseases

The body has a natural defense system that is designed to protect the lungs and it works very well most of the time by keeping out dirt and fighting off germs. However, several harmful substances can damage the airways and threaten the lungs’ ability to work properly, which can lead to lung disease.

Some common lung diseases include 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 lead to respiratory failure.

The primary causal factor that is responsible for at least 30% of all cancer deaths, nearly 80% of deaths caused by chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and for early cardiovascular disease and deaths is smoking.

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There a number of things you can do to help your lungs function properly like simple lifestyle changes, dietary changes and healthy habits that would be highly beneficial for your lungs.

Here are some of the ways to keep your lungs strong and healthy.

1. Quit Smoking

If you smoke, then it is time to quit the habit, so as to improve the condition of your lungs. Cigarette smoke contains thousands of harmful chemicals, some of which can cause health problems. In fact, smoking is the major cause of serious lung diseases like lung cancer and COPD.

In fact, prenatal exposure to environmental tobacco smoke (ETS) is related to impaired lung function and increased risk of asthma development in children.

Further, postnatal exposure has been found to act as a trigger from respiratory symptoms and asthma. In adults, exposure to environmental tobacco smoke leads to asthma, impairment of lung function, increased bronchial sensitivity.

Cigarette smoke narrows the air passages and thereby, makes breathing more difficult. It causes chronic inflammation or swelling in the lungs. With time, cigarette smoke can destroy lung tissues, which in turn increases your risk of lung cancer.

If you suffer from any kind of lung disease, giving up smoking can help manage your condition and improve your quality of life.

Be determined to quit smoking and get help from professionals, if needed.

2. Avoid Secondhand Smoke

Non-smokers must avoid exposure to secondhand smoke to improve the condition of their lungs. Secondhand smoke is highly toxic and can cause significant harm to your lungs and your overall health.

Here are some things you can do to avoid secondhand smoke:

  • Do not allow other people to smoke in your home, car or workplace.
  • Support businesses and activities that are smoke-free.
  • Avoid public places that permit smoking.
  • Stay at smoke-free hotels when traveling to avoid residual smoke from previous patrons.

3. Limit Your Exposure to Pollutants

In addition to cigarette smoke, there are various other pollutants present in the air that are harmful to your lungs as well as overall health. Even the synthetic fragrances used in various laundry products and air fresheners emit toxic chemicals.

  • Avoid highly polluted and industrialized areas.
  • Do your bit to minimize outdoor pollution and help create a cleaner environment. For example, whenever possible, walk or ride your bicycle instead of driving.
  • When building or remodeling your house, opt for eco-friendly options like formaldehyde-free cabinetry, linoleum instead of vinyl flooring, low or no VOC paints, etc.

4. Improve Indoor Air

In a late 1980s NASA study, it was found that several houseplants act as natural air purifiers as they filter out common volatile organic compounds (VOCs) including formaldehyde, benzene and trichloroethylene.

Use at least 2 houseplants per 100 square feet of space. These plants should be 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 sure to keep the foliage dust-free. Also, do not overwater the plants as it may lead to mold growth.
  • Minimize the use of harsh cleaners and cleaners with strong fragrances.
  • Avoid using aerosol sprays.
  • Ensure adequate ventilation.

5. Do Deep Breathing Exercises Daily

Breathing helps the oxygen present in the air to reach the cells in the body by way of inhaling the air. Insufficient oxygen often makes people more prone to lung problems or even heart diseases.

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You can easily strengthen your lungs with regular deep breathing exercises. It can also help clear out toxins that may have built up in the lungs. This, in turn, helps improve lung performance and clear airways.

  1. Sit in a relaxing and quiet place.
  2. Close your eyes, and breathe in deeply through your nose.
  3. Count to five, slowly inhaling the entire time.
  4. Hold your breath for a few seconds, then exhale slowly.
  5. Repeat this breathing exercise 6 to 8 times.
  6. Perform this deep breathing exercise on a daily basis to help cleanse your lungs and keep you stress-free.

If you are not able to master the art of deep breathing, join a breathing club where people with lung and breathing problems can learn about this technique.

6. Eat the Right Foods

The right mix of nutrients in your diet can help with healthy lung functions and cleanse 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 good sources of protein like milk, cheese, fish, nuts and poultry in your diet to help maintain strong respiratory muscles.
  • Eat folate-rich foods like lentils and black beans to protect your lungs from chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). Breathlessness due to COPD is often associated with low intake of folate.
  • Choose complex carbohydrates, such as whole-grain bread and pasta, fresh fruit and vegetables. At the same time, limit simple carbohydrates, including table sugar, candy, 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.

7. Be Active with Regular Exercise

Exercising is a great way to increase lung capacity. With regular exercise, it will be easier for your lungs to keep your heart and muscles well supplied with oxygen. This, in turn, will help you enjoy a healthier heart and a better mood.

  • Perform rigorous cardiovascular activities for at least 20 minutes, 5 days a week. Cardiovascular exercises strengthen the muscles that surround your lungs.
  • Try aerobic exercises, such as walking, dancing or biking, a few days a week. Due to the short bursts of intense training during aerobic exercises, your lung capacity will develop a lot.
  • Swim for 30 minutes, a few times a week.

If you are just starting to exercise, consult a trainer to find out which type of exercises are best for your current condition. Also, remember that during exercise you take deeper and more frequent breaths. So, do not exercise outdoors during rush hour.

8. Get Regular Health Checkups

Another way to ensure healthy lungs and their normal functioning is regular health checkups. Because most lung diseases go undetected until they are serious. However, during a health checkup, doctors can easily examine the condition of your lungs and pick up any trouble signs early.

Always consult a doctor if you experience symptoms of lung problems, such as shortness of breath during simple activities, pain when breathing, dizziness with a change in activity, or a persistent cough.

Take any medicines prescribed by your doctors timely and do not stop your medications on your own, as it can lead to serious consequences.

Resources:

  1. Bernstein JA, Alexis N, Bacchus H, et al. The health effects of non-industrial indoor air pollution. The Journal of allergy and clinical immunology. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18155285. Published March 2008.
  2. Centers (C. Smoking-attributable mortality, years of potential life lost, and productivity losses–United States, 2000-2004. Current neurology and neuroscience reports. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19008791. Published November 14, 2008.
  3. Christer J. The effect of passive smoking on respiratory health in children and adults [State of the Art]. International Union Against Tuberculosis and Lung Disease. http://www.ingentaconnect.com/content/iuatld/ijtld/2004/00000008/00000005/art00002. Published May 1, 2004.
  4. Peto R, Darby S, Deo H, Silcocks P, Whitley E, Doll R. Smoking, smoking cessation, and lung cancer in the UK since 1950: combination of national statistics with two case-control studies. The BMJ. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC27446/. Published August 5, 2000.
  5. Kim CH, Lee YC, Hung RJ, et al. Exposure to secondhand tobacco smoke and lung cancer by histological type: a pooled analysis of the International Lung Cancer Consortium (ILCCO). International Journal of Cancer. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24615328. Published October 15, 2014.
  6. Wolverton BC, Douglas LW, Bounds K. NASA Technical Reports Server (NTRS) – A Study of Interior … NASA Technical Report Server. https://ntrs.nasa.gov/search.jsp?R=19930072988. Published 1995.
  7. Puhan MA, Gimeno-Santos E, Scharplatz M, Troosters T, Walters EH, Steurer J. Pulmonary rehabilitation following exacerbations of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. The Cochrane database of systematic reviews. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21975749. Published October 5, 2011.
  8. Jacobs DR, Kalhan R. Healthy Diets and Lung Health. Connecting the Dots. Annals of the American Thoracic Society. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5018896/. Published May 2016.
  9. Kodama S, Saito K, Tanaka S, et al. Cardiorespiratory fitness as a quantitative predictor of all-cause mortality and cardiovascular events in healthy men and women: a meta-analysis. JAMA. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19454641. Published May 20, 2009.

8 Tips to Keep Your Lungs Stronger for Longer was last modified: October 10th, 2018 by Top10HomeRemedies
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23 thoughts on “8 Tips to Keep Your Lungs Stronger for Longer”

  1. This is amazing ! Really… for us smokers.. how do we reverse the situation? I have found it difficult to quit smoking despite catching up with age.

  2. really if you want to live healthy immediately quit smoking this is the main cause of all the chronic diseases in a human body and cause of cancer .I was chain smoker since last 20 years and know left the smoking since last five years feeling very fresh and healthy improving internal strength and assuming that new pleasure of good life .Leave smoking you will not die but still smoking you can die earlier .when you quit smoking there should not be alternative of smoking totally stopped assume that from today lord shiva given you the opportunity of new life .ok all the best for healthy life without smoking
    REgards

    RSRAWAT

  3. I have never smoked, I exercised my lungs by dancing ballet, I live in a National Forest and have the best oxygen, those around me who smoke make sure to do it in the garage or outside, I studied classical singing and received voice lessons from age 14 to when I was 30, I sang at nearly every funeral and wedding my large family ever had, and at church, I exercise my lungs four times a day and can hold my breath for 30 seconds. I still got asthma and have to take treatments four times a day and sometimes my lungs hurt. I take my medicine faithfully and rightly. I got a good bit worse later in life because I got really sick from something that wasn’t my fault and it hurt me. I’m now an old lady and my asthma could be really bad, but isn’t because I take care of myself. My asthma is hereditary, but how bad it is depends on me, and I won’t be like an ancestor who died from one asthma attack. It all depends on me and what I do to protect myself.

  4. RJS, hello, I brought my brother to the doctor yesterday(December 14,2017). My brother had a cancerous tumor on his kidney. They took his kidney out. His doctor told him to sing for 20 minutes every day. His doctor is Chinese & he said he sings “God Bless America” everyday. It’s very good for the lungs.

  5. I smoked for seventeen years, from ages 40 to 57. Now I’m 65 and I have excellent lung health, except for a recurring cough. I have maintained a running program since I was 25 (maybe 30 miles a week when I was young, and about 5 miles a week now, as my legs are not as strong as they once were), and this has left me with good wind, and a healthy heart. That is, if you exercise in such a way that you end up breathing heavily, you can beat the harms of smoking. That is my experience. Probably a certain amount of genetic luck is at play here, since obviously some people have bad lung health even in youth.

  6. Really this page is very very important for the Asthma patient and I am very grateful to this site. Today i have learnt that how to increase the strength of Lung, oh beautiful, I will follow the each directions and exercise regularly from today. and from today I will start again singing .
    Thanks

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