We can survive a couple of weeks without food and a couple of days without water, but if we attempt to hold our breath for just a minute, what will happen? Most of us will begin to gasp for air desperately. And our lungs are the essential organs that make it possible for us to breathe.
They sustain life by working ceaselessly day and night, supplying each cell in our body with the life-giving oxygen.
Good news about lungs is that they are quite strong organs. “The lungs are very durable if they’re not attacked from the outside. With a few exceptions, your lungs don’t get into trouble unless you get them into trouble,” explains Norman H. Edelman, MD, chief medical officer of the American Lung Association.
Unfortunately, we frequently expose our lungs to great health risks, both knowingly and unintentionally.Read on to discover how you can promote your lung health and which habits you need to avoid.
By all means, stop smoking
You may think that a puff of cigarette a day will not harm you, but no safety is guaranteed when it comes to inhaling a myriad of dangerous substances from cigarette smoke. It slowly but consistently ruins the tissues in the lungs and restricts the breathing passages, causing inflammation at the same time.
Inhaling smoke from cigars, pipes and marijuana is equally harmful. Smoking drastically increases the chances of developing lung cancer, as well as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), which is the fourth major lethal disease in the U.S.A.
Stay away from secondhand smoke
Did you know that non-smokers actually inhale as many harmful chemicals as the smokers in a room? Do your best, therefore, to avoid all locations where smoking is allowed and kindly but firmly tell your guests at home and colleagues at work not to smoke in your surroundings.
Avoid exposure to polluted air outdoors
Unfortunately, most of us live in urban and industrial areas where air can be extremely polluted. This greatly endangers our lung health. We should make an effort to spend as much time as possible in a clean natural environment away from the toxic car exhaust and industrial fumes. We can also promote a clean environment and our health at the same time by walking and riding a bicycle rather than driving.
Practice deep breathing regularly
Most of us who have sedentary jobs and live hectic lives have also become shallow breathers, susceptible to stress and anxiety. Shallow breathing restricts the amount of oxygen our body receives and this can lead to lung and heart disease. We should make a conscious decision to improve our breathing and promote our physical and mental well-being.
The recipe is very simple and easy: just find a relaxing and noise free location. In a seated position with your eyes closed, slowly inhale through the nose, counting to five. Then consciously hold your breath for a moment and then breathe out slowly. This relaxing and lung-cleansing exercise should be repeated a couple of times every day.
Incorporate regular exercise into your daily schedule
According to Jennifer M. Ryan, a specialist in cardiovascular and pulmonary physical therapy at Rush University Medical Center, we only use 50 percent of our lung capacity when we rest and engage in the majority of our day-to-day activities. Our lungs need to be active and moving, just like our entire body.
To help these essential organs develop their function and promote their health, we need to be engaged in a moderate physical activity for a minimum of 20 minutes every day.
“Regular moderately intense activity is great for the lungs, and when you increase your daily activity you get three things done at once: healthy lungs, a healthier heart and a better mood,” Ryan explains. By doing this, we also promote the detoxifying process in the lungs, which is extremely important for their health and proper functioning.
Sing and play a wind instrument
There is a variety of beautiful wind instruments to choose from. Playing them will not only make happier, but it will also make your lungs healthy and strong. If this activity is not your cup of tea, then try singing regularly- it also activates the lungs and develops their capacity.
Purify indoor air
We may believe that the air we breathe indoors is much cleaner than the air outside, but this is often not the case. There are a lot of factors that contribute to poor quality indoor air, like bad circulation, synthetic insulation, fumes from paint and household cleaners, all kinds of bacteria, mold, mildew and pet dander, etc.
To improve the quality of indoor air, we need to make certain that there is enough ventilation and eliminate as many sources of pollution as possible. We can begin by using green cleaning products and purchasing air-cleaning plants like fern, aloe Vera, bamboo palm, and numerous others.
Eat Foods That keep lungs healthy and stay well-hydrated
Drinking enough water is important for all our organs and lungs are not excluded from this. Being well-hydrated keeps the mucosal lining in the lungs thin, which promotes better function of the lungs. When it comes to food, there are some products with potent antioxidant and detoxifying properties that boost lung health in particular.
These include lentils, black beans, all cruciferous vegetables, onion, garlic, and certain herbs and spices like cayenne pepper, turmeric, ginger and oregano. Certain fruits also improve lung function – like apples, pomegranates and grapefruit.
You may be surprised to know that pistachios are extremely lung-friendly due to their content of gamma-tocopherol, a form of vitamin E that is thought to lower the risk of lung cancer.
Keep hygiene on a high level
To prevent frequent respiratory diseases, the easiest and simplest thing to do is to wash hands with soap and hot water regularly. Cold and the flu can make our breathing difficult and they can even lead to more serious complications.
We cannot isolate ourselves from the outside world during the flu season, but we should stay away from crowded locations during this time. When we have the urge to cough or sneeze, covering the nose and the mouth is a must.
Do not miss health checkups
Why cure when you can prevent? A lot of illnesses do not show any symptoms until the situation becomes serious. Remember, a physician is our friend.
Last but not the least: laugh whenever you can
“Laughing is a great exercise to work the abdominal muscles and increase lung capacity,” explains Dr. Ryan. “It also clears out your lungs by forcing enough stale air out that it allows fresh air to enter into more areas of the lung.”