By Lisa James
The average person takes about 20,000 breaths a day and generally never thinks twice about the process—until breathing becomes difficult.
Keeping your lungs in good working order is crucial for not only easier respiration but also better overall health. Here are the best ways to accomplish that.
Don’t Start Smoking or Quit If You Do
Yes it’s an obvious suggestion, but that doesn’t make smoking avoidance any less important. If you’ve tried to quit before without success, keep trying—your lungs will thank you by functioning better.
Avoid Exposure to Other Noxious Substances
You may have less control over pollution exposure than over your own smoking habits, but you have more power than you think. Start by making your home a smoke-free zone. Dust and vacuum weekly, clean with natural substances and open windows to encourage ventilation (avoid using chemical air fresheners). Don’t go outside when pollution levels are particularly high (or pollen levels, if you have allergies), and don’t exercise near major roadways.
Exercise (Including Deep-Breathing Exercises)
Just because you should be careful about where you exercise outside doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t exercise at all: Physical activity forces your lungs to work harder and become more efficient. And over time, exercise leads to fitter muscles that require less oxygen and produce less carbon dioxide, which eventually makes it easier to breathe while exercising. Your routine should include some deep-breathing exercises, which have been found to help improve lung function.†
Help Keep Airways Clear with Steam, Green Tea and Lung-Friendly Foods
Atmospheric conditions can affect breathing, especially if you have a pre-existing lung condition; cold or dry air can be especially problematic. That’s when many people turn to old-fashioned steam therapy—pour hot water into a bowl, cover your head with a towel and you’re good to go. (You may want to throw in some lavender or eucalyptus essential oil.) At least one study has linked daily consumption of green tea with better respiratory function; foods associated with lung health include apples, beets, blueberries, pumpkins, tomatoes and turmeric.†
Wash Your Hands Often to Lower Infection Risk
You’ve been hearing this one a lot lately, and with good reason: Washing your hands with soap for at least 20 seconds helps reduce your risk of developing lung infections (as does not touching your face).†
†The information provided is not an endorsement of any product, and is intended for educational purposes only. NaturesPlus does not provide medical advice and does not offer diagnosis of any conditions. Current research on this topic is not conclusive and further research may be needed in order to prove the benefits described.
The conditions and symptoms described may be indicative of serious health problems, and therefore should be brought to the attention of a qualified healthcare practitioner.