How to Keep Your Lungs Healthy (Apart from Not Smoking)

A healthy person takes about 25,000 breaths a day. To keep our lungs healthy, we need to avoid breathing in harmful substances. We can’t all pack up and go live in the countryside, but there are other things we can do to prevent lung damage and do our share to keep air pollutants low.

The proper functioning of our lungs is vital for our health. The lungs take oxygen from the atmosphere and transfer it into the bloodstream. They also take carbon dioxide from the blood and release it into the air. The cells in our body need oxygen to function efficiently, and if our lungs are damaged, they can’t do their job. When harmful substances enter the lungs, they can damage the airways and threaten the lungs’ ability to work properly, causing issues like respiratory disease and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.

10 Ways to Keep Your Lungs Healthy

We all know that smoking, as well as secondhand smoke, can cause the most damage to our lungs and to those around us. Quitting smoking is not the only thing we can do to protect our lungs. Here are a few other ways to keep your lungs healthy:

1. Limit Exposure to Pollutants

Pollution from industries, mines, and exhaust fumes can wreak havoc to your lungs. Limit your exposure to industrial and mining areas if possible, and try not to add too much pollution yourself. You can do this by walking instead of driving, avoiding burning things like wood or trash, using less electricity, and supporting suppliers that use clean energy and ingredients that are safe for the environment.  

2. Improve Indoor Air Quality

House plants are natural air purifiers, so try to grow a few indoor plants, such as a spider plant, dracaena, peace lily, boston fern, bamboo plant, and aloe vera. Avoid using aerosol sprays or burning a wood fireplace. Ensure that your house has adequate ventilation, especially in winter when we tend to keep windows and doors closed to keep out the cold. You can also use an air cleaner, but remember these only remove particulate matter and won’t remove harmful gasses from the air.

3. Do Deep Breathing Exercises

Deep breathing, where you engage your diaphragm, will strengthen your lungs and clean out any toxins built up in your lungs. Do these breathing exercises for one minute every hour of the day ideally. Dr. Payal Bhandari M.D. can help you learn how to do breathing exercises and make this a regular practice. Yoga is also extremely helpful in teaching you how to do deep breathing exercises.

4. Give Your Lungs a Workout

Apart from breathing exercises, there are fun ways to give your lungs a regular workout while improving the lungs’ air capacity and clean out any stale air:

5. Eat the Right Foods

Eating the right foods will keep your lungs healthy. Green vegetables, garlic, onions, turmeric, cayenne pepper, and ginger are full of antioxidants and good for your lungs. Sugars, refined flour, processed and pre-packaged ready-made food, beef, and excess intakes of dairy products, poultry, and fish should be avoided entirely since they hurt the quality of blood to the lungs.

6. Keep Active

Deep breathing while engaging in physical activities increases the lungs’ capacity. Cardio exercises like swimming, walking, cycling, and dancing will strengthen the muscles around the lungs. Try to exercise at least 60 minutes per day five times per week.

7. Protect Your Lungs on the Job

Certain work environments are dangerous to the lungs. Working in construction, mining, in hair salons, or with fiberglass can cause one to inhale harmful particles, dust, gasses, paint fumes, and chemicals. Make sure you wear protective equipment when working in one of these industries, like a dust mask. Make sure there is also proper ventilation in these workspaces.

8. Clean Smart

Many cleaning products contain harsh products like ammonia, bleach, and VOC’s (volatile organic compounds). Some laundry products and air fresheners contain synthetic fragrances that contain toxic chemicals. Try to avoid these harsh cleaners and strong fragrances whenever possible, but instead use cleaning products like baking soda, vinegar, and lemon juice. These safer cleaning agents can clean just as well as store-bought cleaning products do. Make sure that there is proper ventilation when you clean.

9. Stay hydrated

Our lungs are 90 % water and require humid air to do their work properly. Water is lost through breathing especially when the air is hot and dry, or during exercise. Drink at least eight glasses of water each day to keep lungs hydrated and healthy.

10. Laugh, Laugh, Laugh

When we laugh, our abdominal muscles get a workout and our lung capacity increases. Laughter also clears the lungs by forcing out stale and toxic air, allowing fresh air and more oxygen to enter. Make sure you get your daily comedy time!

Healthy Lungs = Healthy Body

It can be easy and even fun to keep your lungs clean and strong, especially when incorporating laughter into your daily routine. If you struggle with any lung conditions or need advice on implementing any of our healthy lung tips, contact Dr. Payal Bhandari M.D.


References:

http://www.health.com/health/gallery/0,,20488696,00.html

http://www.lung.org/our-initiatives/healthy-air/indoor/indoor-air-pollutants/cleaning-supplies-household-chem.html

https://www.rush.edu/health-wellness/discover-health/keeping-your-lungs-healthy

Author
Dr. Payal Bhandari Dr. Payal Bhandari M.D. is a leading practitioner of integrative and functional medicine in San Francisco.

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