- Food for better lungs:
- ECHRS recommended foods for lung health
- Bad food for lungs:
- Nutritionist’s checklist for better lung health
A year ago we reassured ourselves that “this too shall pass”. Fast-forward to today, 2021, twelve months have passed, and we are accustomed to the new normal. With the conviction of having to live with this uncertainty etched in our brains, social life has taken a back seat. In reality, the days of dining out, house parties, and grand celebrations, wedding functions et al evoke nostalgia. Staying at home, all we can mull over is staying healthy, active, and improving lung health and immunity. ‘Oxygen deficiency’ has been the most used term in 2021 with the second wave of the pandemic creating havoc all over. Improving your lung health is the only way to tide over the fatal infection. Along with steaming and breathing exercise, consuming healthy food for better lungs. To accomplish this feat, The Champa Tree and nutritionist Richa Nimeshwari bring to our readers, foods for better lung health as well as bad food for lungs.
Food for better lungs:
“Hydration is the first rule in maintaining your health. Water has the power of being the best detox for your body,” says Richa Nimeshwari, founder of Dietox Nutrition. “Indian cuisines are naturally rich in foods for better lung health as well as immunity as Indian spices are inherently healthy. Make sure to add healthy fats to fight inflammation. Along with these, include the following food items in your daily diet.”
Blueberries, blackberries, and strawberries are rich in anthocyanin. It is an effective antioxidant. It has been proven that regular intake of blueberries improves lung health by considerably reducing the rate of lung function decline.
A study conducted by the American Cancer society confirmed, the potential benefits of berries for lung health.
Therefore, the best food for better lungs. In addition, they are the best for heart and brain health. They are low in calories and high in nutrients. They also help in controlling cholesterol and blood sugar.
Carotenoids (mainly Beta carotene) present in pumpkins are positively associated with lung health. These are powerful antioxidants and anti-inflammatory medicines. Studies have proven that smokers who regularly consume carotenoid-rich food have better lung health. Hence include pumpkins in your daily diet for better functioning lungs. Check out healthy breakfast options using blueberries.
Turmeric is an inevitable part of Indian cuisine, primarily due to its medicinal properties rather than taste. Curcumin present in turmeric helps in alleviating chest congestion which in turn relieves asthmatic symptoms. The immunity-boosting drink turmeric-jaggery milk is the best food for the lungs.
Nitrates present in beetroot dilates blood vessels. Nitrates increase the use of calcium in muscles and thus they relax the respiratory muscles in the diaphragm. This in turn helps in improved respiratory function. Doctors usually prescribe beetroot supplements to patients with pulmonary infections.
Unbelievable, yet true!
Caffeine works on our lungs in a similar pattern like that of bronchodilator drugs. Studies have proven that the rate of respiratory mortality is less in coffee drinkers. However, it is advisable to limit your coffee consumption to twice daily and not more than that.
6. Green leafy vegetables
Green leafy vegetables are rich in Vit A, C, E, K, carotenoids, and potassium. These are key components for better lung health.
Researchers from Warsaw University of life science in Poland and Karolina University in Sweden conducted a study on more than 40000 men in the age group 45-19 for thirteen years. The study proved that those who were taking more than five daily servings of green leafy vegetables were less likely to develop lung disease.
7. Whole grains
Flavonoids and vitamin C present in whole grains help in unclogging the air passage. When it comes to whole grains, the best foods for lung health would be whole wheat bread, pasta, rolled oats, etc.
ECHRS recommended foods for lung health
In 2002, three countries participated in the European Community Respiratory Health Survey (ECHRS). Adults from three countries answered a questionnaire to assess their diet and underwent spirometry (forced expiratory volume in 1sFEV1 and forced vital capacity FVC). They repeated this 10 years later. As per the study they recommended three foods for better lung health.
The decline in lung health is often attributed to age and lifestyle habits, such as smoking. Nonetheless, to regain lung health even after one has quit smoking is a task in itself. In the study by ECHRS, it was proven that consuming tomatoes regularly prevents lung health decline in ex-smokers. Try the tomato soup recipe shared by the champ tree and include it in your diet as one of the easiest recipes for foods for better lung health.
Flavonoids are another component that is vital in improving lung health. Apples are rich in flavonoids as well as Vitamin C and E. Apples lower the risk of lung cancer and asthma. This makes it an ideal food for lung health.
10. Herbal tea
Herbal tea is another dietary product recommended by ECHRS. For a better lung health, the folowing herbal teas are the best suited.
- Ginger tea
- Green tea
- Black tea
- Eucalyptus tea
- Licorice tea
- Mullein tea
Bad food for lungs:
While we take immense care ingesting the best food to boost immunity, we should also take care to avoid or control a few food items during the pandemic. Richa Nimeshwari strongly opposes the use of the following food items.
1. Processed food and junk food
Food like packaged chips, sausage rolls, salamis, cakes, bacon instant meals, etc should be avoided. These are the food items that you could rely on when you are unable to cook due to exhaustion.
“They are rich in unhealthy fat and empty calories. These are linked to a wide variety of health issues and are detrimental to the immune system,” says Richa.
2. Excessive use sugar and salt
Sugar and salt are considered white poisons. The less you use, the better for your health. “It is advisable to limit the use of sugar and salt to less than 6 teaspoons and 1 teaspoon respectively,” added Richa Nimeshwari. If you are using canned food as a necessity, wash them before use to avoid excessive salt intake. As per the health statistics by WHO, 50-70% salt intake is through the food we naturally consume. Hence we should avoid using extra salt. Even if you are using sugar substitutes like honey, jaggery, etc, it is advisable to limit the use.
“Consumption of alcohol reduces the capability of the immune system.” says Richa. Regular use of alcohol undermines your body’s capability to fight against any infection especially COVID-19. Presence of alcohol in your body reduces the efficiency of the medicines.
4. Red meat
Who recommends the use of less than 30% of the total energy intake of which saturated fat should be only less than 10%. Hence avoid red meat which is rich in unsaturated fat. If you are using red meat, trim excess fat. This applies to poultry as well. Try to use skinless poultry.
Nutritionist’s checklist for better lung health
- It is very important to keep yourself hydrated always.
- Fluids must be ingested in plain water as well as fruit juices and smoothies.
- Short frequent meals should be taken every 2-3 hours.
- Make sure to have a protein-rich diet and simultaneously include probiotic and omega 3 rich food.
- Do not skip carbohydrates.
- Regularly do breathing exercises. Refer to the 5-5-5- breathing exercise shared by Richa.
- Take steam twice a day.
Staying back at home is a rare time to spend with your family. Have family meals cooked together with love. On days when you are not feeling up to cooking log on to The Champa Tree and skim through the easy recipes. Keep the homemade instant foods ready and cook easily and rapidly.