How Diet Can Affect Your Lung Health
April 5, 2023
Your lungs require energy to oxygenate your blood cells and expel carbon dioxide. Eating right gives them the boost they need and can improve your lung health.
Diet and Metabolism
Food and oxygen are raw materials your metabolism converts into energy for bodily functions, including breathing. Your metabolism also produces carbon dioxide as a waste product, which must be exhaled.
Certain foods, like carbohydrates, produce more carbon dioxide than others, so your lungs have to work harder. That can be problematic if you have respiratory conditions such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and asthma.
Nutrients That Support Lung Health
Vitamin A: This vitamin contributes to cell growth and healing. Vitamin A maintains mucosal passages like your sinuses and throat. It’s stored in different parts of your body, including your lungs, and can help you fight respiratory infection. The regenerative ability of Vitamin A also facilitates tissue repair in your lungs and may lower your risk of developing scar tissue.
Vitamin D: Your kidneys and lungs convert Vitamin D into its active form which strengthens immunity. This fat-soluble vitamin helps prevent smooth muscle cells from forming in your airways, which is important if you have asthma.
Vitamin C: This antioxidant fights free radicals and can mitigate the effect of oxidative stress on lung tissue. Vitamin C helps your body fight infection and stops viruses from interacting with healthy cells. It’s also essential in collagen production, which is a connective tissue in your lungs that prevents the formation of scar tissue caused by infections.
Consult with your primary care physician before adding supplements to your diet.
A lung-friendly diet should include proteins, healthy fats and complex carbohydrates and limit excess sodium, fried foods and processed meats.
Here are some foods to include:
Beets: Beets and beet greens are packed with nitrites that support healthy lung function. That chemical compound relaxes your blood vessels and boosts oxygenation.
Apples: Apples contain quercetin, which has been shown to reduce lung damage in former smokers. They also have lots of Vitamin C.
Pumpkin: Pumpkin skin has antioxidants and anti-inflammatory properties that are great for your lungs.
Berries: The pigments in blueberries can protect lung tissue from oxidative stress. Most berries also have antioxidants that combat the effects of free radicals on your body tissues.
Olive oil: Olive oil is a good source of healthy fat, which promotes a healthy metabolism without an excess production of carbon dioxide.
Broccoli: This non-starchy vegetable is a good source of complex carbs and Vitamin C. Broccoli also contains a compound that may ease the effects of COPD.
Poultry: Chicken and turkey are sources of Vitamin A, which stimulates healing in lung tissues damaged by infection.
Beans: Red and black beans have lots of antioxidants that are essential to neutralizing the effects of oxidative stress.