There are specific foods that you can eat that have been scientifically proven to be able to make a difference in the health of your lungs.
The Best Foods for Healthy Lungs
Eating raw garlic can help kill life threatening bacteria that cause lung infections. Researchers have found that ‘allicin’, a compound found in garlic can kill bacteria that trigger life threatening lung infections.
Drink plenty of water, as the lungs utilize water to keep the airways clean and clear of mucous and inflammatory build up. “In my practice, the importance of drinking enough fluids can’t be stressed enough in terms of maintaining lung health. Lungs are 80% water, and even mild dehydration can impact lung function significantly,” adds Amanda Maucere, RD, Lung Health Institute.
Stick to healthy carbs that are loaded with fiber and more anti-inflammatory like sprouted whole grain bread or steel cut oatmeal and avoid simple carbs in all processed foods or pastries, white bread, and those in sugary beverages as they produce the most carbon dioxide as a part of their digestion.
Fats have the lowest carbon dioxide load during metabolism; thus, they are good for someone who already has difficulty breathing. One may notice better breathing on a low carbohydrate, high-fat diet. Include one serving of nuts daily. Try walnuts, which are the richest plant source of omega-3 fats, eat fatty fish—salmon, sardines, anchovies—at least two to three times per week, and sprinkle ground flaxseeds on cereals and salads.
Apples and Tomatoes.
They can help slow the natural decline in the lung functions. And studies suggest that these two foods may play a role in helping to repair the lungs of ex-smokers.
Vitamin D-rich Foods.
D can boost the immune system and reduce airway inflammation. Low levels of vitamin D are associated with increased childhood asthma and vitamin D supplements have been shown to help reduce asthma attacks. Other studies suggest a possible correlation between reduced vitamin D levels and lung disease. Dietary sources of vitamin D include fortified milk, eggs, yogurt and salmon.
This is a good choice for lung health due to its high levels of antioxidants, including quercetin, that acts like a natural antihistamine and slows down the release of histamines, reduces inflammation and protects the lungs from irritation. Green tea also has super high levels of the antioxidants flavanol and epigallocatechin-3-gallate (EGCG).
Vitamin C Foods.
Research suggests that dietary vitamin C can provide protection against COPD, independent of smoking history. And other studies have suggested that vitamin C might have a protective effect against lung cancer. Grab your daily dose of vitamin C from foods such as “orange-colored produce like oranges, papayas, pumpkins, carrot, apples and red bell peppers.
Make sure that you are get ample protein to maintain good lung health. To help our bodies incorporate and use protein better, we should spread it out evenly throughout the day. opt for ample protein at each meal and selecting sources such as eggs, Greek yogurt, a protein shake, healthy plant-based proteins like nuts and legumes, and lean meats like poultry, which has been linked to a 10% reduction in the risk of developing lung cancer.
To support overall lung health and protect the lungs from inflammation and infection, leafy green vegetables, like spinach and kale, are anti-inflammatory powerhouses. These foods contain chlorophyll, which gives them their green color and helps support blood flow to the lungs. They also contain carotenoids like lutein and zeaxanthin which act as antioxidants in the body, removing free radicals that could cause lung damage.
Adding broccoli to your diet is a lung healthy choice as, it has a substance called L-sulforaphane, which turns on anti-inflammatory genes. Other cruciferous vegetables include cauliflower, kale and Brussels sprouts.
Cayenne pepper, per Marvasti, has been shown to be rich in capsaicin, which protects mucous membranes in the lungs by stimulating healthy secretions.
Ginger is a natural decongestant that helps to clear up clogged air passages and improve circulation in the lungs. Try the spice in the form of a soothing warm ginger tea. You can also grate fresh ginger, which can be purchased in the grocery store, over dishes like stir-fries.
Foods to Avoid
If you’re aiming for healthy lungs, you’ll want to stay away from fried foods that are processed, as well as unhealthy fats like those found in processed meats or processed oils.
Any food that promotes inflammation can be harmful to lungs. For individuals who are lactose intolerant or sensitive, having too much dairy in the form of heavy creams and cheeses can increase mucous and inflammation in the airways leading to poorer lung function and further asthma or COPD attacks.
For good lung health, the American Lung Association suggests avoiding foods that contain trans fats, such as butter and lard as well as keeping your sodium levels low in order to prevent edema (swelling) that could lead to an increased blood pressure.