Your lungs are some of the most important organs in your body. While your immune system has natural defenses to keep them healthy, your lifestyle habits can have a meaningful impact on your lung health, too. Avoiding or quitting smoking should be a main priority, but your diet can also deliver the right nutrients to help your lungs function well.
In honor of Healthy Lung Month, here are some of the best foods for your lungs.
1. Foods High in Omega-3s
Foods with a high content of omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids can help to offset the effects of indoor air pollution. They’ve also been shown to improve lung function and reduce respiratory flare-ups in people with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). Omega-3s play an important role in various functions of your body that could contribute to lung health, including cellular growth. Since you can’t produce the nutrient on your own, you’ll need to get it from your diet. Good sources include:
- Chia seeds
- Fatty fish like salmon, herring, sardines, and mackerel
Protein helps to build and maintain strong muscles in your respiratory system. Eating a lot of protein has been shown to promote healthy lung function, so be sure to include a variety of protein-rich foods in your diet. Some options include milk, cheese, eggs, nuts, tofu and tempeh, meat and poultry, and beans or peas.
3. Foods with Vitamin D
Having low levels of vitamin D can increase your risk of infections, and has also been linked to lower lung function. This nutrient can be difficult to get from diet alone, as there are few foods that contain it. It’s found in some fish, including salmon and tuna, as well as certain fortified cereals, orange juices, and dairy products. For some people, taking a vitamin D supplement may be a good way to promote lung health and overall wellness. Your primary care provider can recommend the best sources and dosages for you.
Most fruits and vegetables contain nutrients that can help power your lungs, but beets are an especially good choice. They contain compounds that can improve lung function, including nitrates that relax your blood vessels and increase how much oxygen you take in when you breathe. If beets don’t appeal to you, beetroot supplements may be another option to consider.
Apples are another standout produce option for healthy lungs. They have a high dose of antioxidants, which may help to control the damage caused by pollution and smoking. You have to enjoy them frequently to see their benefits though, which means consuming five or more apples per week.
6. Other Brightly-Colored Produce
Fresh fruits and vegetables with bright colors tend to have a lot of carotenoids. These compounds have antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties that have been associated with better lung function. Bell peppers, pumpkin, carrots, leafy green vegetables, tomatoes, and oranges are a few colorful choices to add to your plate regularly.
Making healthy dietary choices is an excellent start when it comes to caring for your lungs. But staying on top of your overall health with routine doctor’s visits is another important aspect of making sure your lungs are healthy.
From keeping your vaccinations up-to-date, to discussing recommended health screenings, YourTown Health is here to help you manage every aspect of your wellness. To find your nearest office, review our locations page, and call at 404-929-8824 to make an appointment.