Thursday, January 19, 2012

Diet for healthy lungs

A variety of conditions can affect lung function, such as asthma, lung cancer, emphysema and chronic bronchitis. Trouble breathing can greatly interfere with your life; difficulty with one of the most vital functions for living can also induce anxiety. The foods you eat contain vital nutrients that contribute to healthy functioning of your lungs and every other organ in your body. Eating a certain diet might help benefit your lung function in addition to your other treatments. Discuss your diet with your doctor before making any drastic changes.
The University of Maryland Medical Center notes that patients who suffer from chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, or COPD, often have low levels of antioxidants--beneficial nutrients that protect cells from various types of damage--in their blood. The "U.S. News and World Report" notes a study on asthma in teenagers that found low antioxidant levels might play a role in the development of chronic asthma. It stands to reason that a diet rich in antioxidants, such as vitamin C and flavonoids, might contribute to respiratory health. You can get the richest source of antioxidants by eating lots of fresh fruits and vegetables; particularly rich sources include berries, leafy greens, tomatoes, peppers and cherries. Eat the full range of colors to ensure you get all the available antioxidants.

Normally, inflammation plays a key role in protecting the body from injury and infection. Sometimes, however, this inflammation occurs for no reason at all, leading to a host of problems. The asthma study noted that intake of omega-3 fatty acids, one of the best known anti-inflammatory agents, might benefit lung function. Rich sources include fatty fish like salmon, trout, mackerel, sardines, herring and tuna, walnuts, flax seed, and hemp seed. You can also find many products fortified with these beneficial fats.

Noted physician, author and alternative medicine expert Dr. Andrew Weil also promotes managing inflammation to deal with conditions that affect the lungs. In addition to beneficial fats, he recommends limiting your intake of animal proteins as they contain substances, such as saturated fat, that promote inflammation in the body. Other inflammation-causing foods include sugary treats and white flour products.

If you have lung problems, consider eliminating dairy from your diet. Casein, the protein found in milk, can increase the production of mucus in the lungs, a common problem in many disorders that affect the lungs.

The University of Maryland Medical Center notes that the mineral magnesium plays an important role in normal lung function and that deficiencies might contribute to decreased lung function. Magnesium-rich foods include whole grains, green vegetables--particularly spinach--nuts, seeds and beans.

Certain nutritional supplements might benefit healthy lung function in addition to diet. Dr. Weil recommends medicinal mushrooms such as reishi and cordyceps---he notes these treatments have a long history of uses in traditional Chinese medicine to promote healthy lungs. Drink plenty of water to thin secretions if you suffer from a condition that promotes excess mucus production.


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