Food for Breath: 10 Foods to Help Improve Your Respiration

A healthy respiratory system is essential to being able to live an active, healthy lifestyle. The major parts of your respiratory system (lungs, trachea, mouth, and nose) all work together to supply your blood with oxygen and allow you to exercise and go about your daily activities. Allergies, asthma, bronchitis, and even the common cold can all severely inhibit the functionality of the respiratory system. Those with asthma can especially understand the inhibitions that come with having chronic breathing afflictions. The healthiest things we can do are avoiding smoking, getting as much cardio as we can, and avoiding polluted areas. What many don’t realize is that a consistent diet of respiratory aiding foods can also make a difference. Here are 10 foods that can naturally preserve the health of your lungs as well as fight conditions that can obstruct your breathing.

1.      Apples

Researchers have found that those who consume five or more apples a week have a lung capacity 138 ml higher than the average person. Good lung function has long been associated with foods that contain high amounts of vitamins C, E, and beta-carotene, a form of vitamin A that helps your immune system fight off harmful viruses and bacteria. While apples are not a tremendous source of vitamin E they carry large amounts of vitamin C and beta-carotene, especially in the skin. The saying “An apple a day keeps the doctor away” does hold a certain degree of truth in that doctors have concluded that one apple a day can greatly reduce your risk of lung and colon cancer.

2.      Fish

Fish oil has been found to have tremendous counter-effects on the inflammation of the lungs as well as increasing blood flow and pulmonary function. The Department of Health and Human Services has reported that fish high in omega-3 fatty acids such as Salmon and Herring have been found to reduce incidence and severity of asthma in both children and adults. They have also been found to promote heart health and help maintain cartilage tissue in our joints.

3.      Green Tea

The benefits of green tea are seemingly endless, but not only is it healthy for individuals with breathing troubles, it is also very convenient. When we are congested, sick, and have a sore throat one of the best things we can have is a cup of hot tea to ease throat pain and clear us up inside. Green tea happens to have a unique set of antioxidants called catechins which have been found to directly reduce inflammation of the lungs brought on by smoking breathing polluted air.

4.      Leafy Greens

Vegetables such as spinach and kale are great sources of beta-carotene. Much like apples these vegetables are excellent in fighting off viruses and bacteria. The variety of A-vitamins in these foods help to support healthy surface linings of the respiratory system.

5.      Oranges

Classic sources of vitamin C, oranges also contain carotenoids that directly inhibit radicals from infecting lung tissue while maintaining a healthy immune system. Oranges also contain a high amount of potassium which regulates fluids in your body and helps carry water soluble nutrients to your various organs.

6.      Brazil Nuts

It might be one of the tougher nuts to crack but what lies inside contains a high dosage of one of the most essential nutrients for ling health, selenium.  Recognized as an antioxidant mineral, selenium has been found to protect lungs from harmful free radicals, inhibit the growth of lung tumors, and boost your overall immune system. The National Institute of Health’s list of foods with the highest count of selenium is none other than the brazil nut. Some other perks of this nut are the high amounts of protein and healthy fats to maintain muscle tissue and joint health.

7.      Brown Rice

Brown rice contains high amounts of selenium and vitamin E, two of the most effective nutrients at promoting lung health. This food is actually recommended by doctors to those who suffer from chronic obstructive pulmonary disease as those most susceptible to it seem to be those in with a diet low in vitamin E and selenium. Vitamin E is also known to counteract symptoms of asthma and promote oxygen flow in the blood.

8.      Carrots

The vitamin A in carrots helps get rid the lungs of harmful bacteria and other pathogens that can cause infection or in more severe cases lead to fatal pneumonia. A simple half cup of boiled carrots contains more than double the recommended daily dose of vitamin A. Carrots also contain many other vitamins and minerals that researchers have also found to help improve the health of your eyes.

9.      Blueberries

Like oranges, blueberries contain an abundance of vitamin C which strengthens your immune system and helps your inner organs fight off free radicals. The high amount of sugar in blueberries makes it optimal for a good snack or additive to foods such as cereal and oatmeal.

10.  Red Bell Peppers

Red bell peppers carry an abundance of the compound beta-cryptoxanthin which has been found to lower your risk of lung cancer. This compound, with vitamin A, was found in a study at Kansas State University to reduce both inflammation of the lungs and cases of emphysema. Additionally, red bell peppers contain more vitamin C than most fruits along with high levels of two carotenoids, lutein and zeaxanthin, which are credited with improve lung function.

All of these foods are excellent for helping rebuild the lungs and overall respiratory health of ex-smokers, runners who live in a polluted area, those who suffer from asthma attacks and other respiratory related problems. These foods are chosen because not only do they aid in promoting lung health but they also have something to offer in other areas of the body making them good to have in your diet for overall health as well.

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