What effect does food have on your lung health? Include these nutrients in your diet to breathe better  |  Photo Credit: iStock Images
- The pollution levels around the country are on a rise, owing to various causes such as crackers during Diwali, cold weather and others
- Air pollution can have an adverse effect on your overall health, especially your lungs
- Know the nutrients you should add to your diet to keep your lungs healthy, and reduce risk of diseases
New Delhi: We have all read in our school textbooks that the human body breathes in oxygen through the nose and mouth, which is then transported to the whole body with the help of various functions within the body. This oxygen is then used to provide life to all cells in the body and keep the body alive. However, as air pollution worsens around the world and the country, it seems that this fact is now slightly twisted. Apart from oxygen, we are currently breathing in various toxins and pollutants, which can cause serious health issues if not countered.
Air pollution and smog are major concerns for states like Delhi and those that are around it, especially in the winter months of November, December and January. This is the season when stubble burning in neighbouring states is common, which also contributes to the poor quality of air. Moreover, the festival of Diwali, which includes the practice of bursting crackers also adds to the problem. This year, post-Diwali, states of Delhi, and some parts of Uttar Pradesh and Haryana have seen a major spike in pollution levels, even as crackers were banned in many places to curb the potential health hazard.
How food affects your lungs?
Given the poor state of air we breathe in, it becomes very important to take care of our lungs. The food we eat has a direct impact on our health, and the same holds true for our lungs. Foods that are rich in antioxidants help to flush out the toxins in the body and aid in better functioning. According to studies as well, health diets, in general, have been linked to better health and a reduced risk of breathing disorders such as asthma, COPD, and others.
Nutrients to include in your diet for better lung health
According to dietitian Upasana Sharma, Clinical Nutrition, Max Super Speciality Hospital, Gurgaon, in view of poor AQI levels that we are facing currently, it’s important to maintain and cleanse our lungs as they play a vital role in our body. Key nutrients required for efficient respiratory response include:
- High protein diet-protein deficiency increases susceptibility to respiratory infections therefore it is important to include high protein sources in the diet. Food providing proteins of high biological value Ex: – eggs, soft cheeses, tender meats, fish followed by dairy products, pulses, and nuts.
- Vitamin A supplementation lowers the incidence of respiratory tract infections. Most dietary vitamin A comes from leafy green vegetables such as cabbage, kale, spinach, orange and yellow vegetables and fruits such as-tomato products, carrots, broccoli, cantaloupe, squash.
- Vitamin C maintains healthy lungs by destroying free radicals developed when lungs are exposed to smoke/ smog. Foods rich in vitamin C include kiwifruit, red capsicum (bell pepper), citrus fruits, papaya, strawberries, broccoli, pineapples, mango, and cantaloupe melon.
- Polyunsaturated fatty acids, PUFA tend to enhance certain immune functions, can help cleanse your lungs and keep your pulmonary system working effectively. Including a handful of walnuts and flaxseeds can be a good idea.
- Incorporate antioxidants as they reduce the oxidative damage and have an anti-inflammatory effect on organs. Garlic contains a compound called allicin a compound commonly found in Garlic is a powerful natural antibiotic agent in the body. Ginger is a natural cleansing food that has anti-inflammatory properties and known to reduce mucus formation.
- Turmeric is known as the ‘golden magic’ for a reason. Its anti-inflammatory powers are great for cleaning out our lungs and protects from infections. Regular consumption of turmeric help reduces the inflammation in the air passage and cleanse the lungs naturally and helps in detoxification of the body.
Disclaimer: Tips and suggestions mentioned in the article are for general information purpose only and should not be construed as professional medical advice. Always consult your doctor or a dietician before starting any fitness programme or making any changes to your diet.