23 June, 2020
Keeping our lungs healthy is important, as they are our primary breathing organs, and help sustain our life. In the present pandemic situation, it is more important to take care of our lungs. Many newspaper reports suggest that one of the main morbidity factors resulting in the Corona deaths happens to be respiratory issues.
People with lung issues, breathing difficulties, pneumonia, and influenza-like illnesses are more susceptible to Corona and may need treatment with oxygen and ventilator support. Also, the post-mortem of such patients has shown that lung tissues are extensively damaged by Coronavirus. As in the case of many other organs, lungs too can be kept healthy with exercise, diet, and a healthy lifestyle. It is in our best interest to do whatever it takes to stay safe and healthy during this pandemic. Here, we look at a few tips and suggestions that can help you in this regard.
Lung health is linked to a term called lung capacity. This is determined by the maximum amount of air that your lungs can hold. The average healthy capacity among older adults is said to be 6 litres. This capacity usually decreases as we age, and also with certain health conditions. However, with some regular exercise, we can help the lungs to stay as healthy as possible.
Certain breathing exercises will help our lungs to increase its capacity and keep improving over time. One may practice simple deep breathing exercises, or try the formal Yoga based pranayama daily. There are a few different variations of Pranayama that are highly beneficial to the overall body functions, especially the lungs. Another recommended form of exercise is belly breathing, which is done using the diaphragm muscles to take deep breaths. If you are healthy and can jog, trek, or swim, even these exercises can help you streamline your breathing.
You might have read about this as a remedy for many issues that trouble us. Drinking ample quantities of water every day can help keep your lungs healthy. It will keep the body hydrated, detoxify the lungs, improve the blood flow, and avoid irritation and inflammation that is caused due to dry lungs. An apple a day does not just keep the doctor away, it indeed does keep the lung infections at bay. The presence of vitamins C, E, and beta-carotene in apples makes it rich in nutrients and antioxidants that help maintain a healthy lung.
Nuts and seeds are also extremely good for your lungs; walnuts contain beneficial omega-3 fatty acids that are anti-inflammatory. Flaxseeds, pumpkin seeds, and sunflower seeds contain magnesium and are known to protect the lungs from radiation and prevent tissue damage.
Another set of foods that helps in building lung capacity are ginger, garlic, and onion. These are included in most Indian everyday meals, and it should not be a problem to have them as part of our daily diet. They help reduce cholesterol and fight lung infections. Ginger is a good detoxifier for the lungs, and it also comes with powerful anti-inflammatory properties. It improves air circulation by de-clogging the air passages. Garlic helps remove the toxins as well.
Broccoli, which is dubbed as a superfood, is another good diet choice for improving lung health. It contains a sulphur-rich compound called L-sulforaphane, which is usually found in the cruciferous vegetables, with powerful health benefits. One of the most important benefits is the respiratory health.
Capsicum (Bell peppers) and cayenne peppers are two other foods that contain an important and beneficial compound called capsaicin. It is this compound that provides it with the spiciness. But this compound helps the lungs to fight infections by stimulating secretions. This also protects the mucus membranes and improves the blood flow.
Turmeric is another anti-inflammatory spice that we Indians use commonly in our cuisine. The curcumin present in it helps relieve lung infections and provides relief from chest congestion. The famed Indian Haldi doodh or turmeric milk is a very good way to keep respiratory infections at bay. Apart from this, citrus fruits have also been known to provide some benefits to the lungs as they contain Vitamin C.
Certain lifestyle changes are important to maintain lung health. Regular exercise, which also includes the breathing exercises as mentioned above are important. Apart from this, it is important to give up on or stay away from smoking. Smoking is one of the most harmful habits for our lungs, and it is also known to cause lung cancer. It keeps weakening our lungs and makes it susceptible to infections.
Additionally, since the air quality in many Indian cities has been said to be at dangerous levels, it is important to maintain the indoor air quality. If possible, a few indoor plants that help purify the air could be kept. An indoor air purifier can be used to monitor and safeguard the indoor air quality to keep it healthy. Proper ventilation should be ensured in your homes by using open windows and exhaust fans wherever applicable. Regular dusting, especially of rugs, carpets, sofa, etc. is important.
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