Preserving your lungs is critical to long-term health. Toxins, mold and bacteria can undermine respiratory health and even cause life-threatening illnesses such as COPD (Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease) over time. Thankfully, there are many natural methods to make breathing easier and keep your lungs healthy.
Part 1 of 5: Taking care of general health
Step 1. Consume foods rich in antioxidants
Eating a balanced diet strengthens the lungs and foods rich in antioxidants are particularly beneficial as they increase lung capacity and improve breathing.
Blueberries, broccoli, spinach, grapes, sweet potatoes, green tea and fish are excellent sources of antioxidants
Step 2. Exercise
Exercising regularly develops lung capacity to the extreme. Try to do:
- Moderate aerobic activities for at least 30 minutes (such as walking and swimming), between four and five times a week. Or:
- Intense aerobic activities (such as jogging, cycling, or playing basketball) at least three times a week.
Step 3. Stop Smoking
Smoking is one of the main causes of COPD, which can lead to pulmonary emphysema and cancer. The substances in cigarettes cause repeated inflammation in the bronchi, progressively worsening breathing.
- Contrary to popular belief, it is not safe to consume tobacco in other ways, such as chewing it, to protect the lungs. Doing so increases the risk of cancer of the mouth, pancreas and gum disease.
- Electronic cigarettes also pose a great risk to lung health, in addition to being illegal in Brazil. New studies have revealed that the flavoring agents in these devices come from a chemical called “diacetyl”. This substance has been linked to constrictive bronchiolitis, a rare and potentially fatal form of obstructive pulmonary disease in which the bronchioles are forcibly reduced in size by scarring from recurrent inflammation.
- Don't smoke anything if you really want to detoxify your lungs.
Part 2 of 5: Minimizing environmental factors
Step 1. Stay in well-ventilated areas
Your work and home are where you spend most of your time, so they should be well ventilated. If you work with toxic materials such as paints, solvents, cement dust, chemicals such as bleaches and hair dyes and others, use masks and other appropriate equipment: always taking care that the air circulates decently.
- Open the windows wide for the air to circulate.
- Wear a respirator if you have to work indoors.
- When working with bleach, open doors and windows and leave the room as soon as possible so as not to damage your lungs.
- Do not mix bleach with ammonia. This mixture generates a toxic chloramine vapor that damages the mucous membranes of the lungs.
- Avoid using fireplaces and wood stoves indoors, as they also emit harmful toxins to the lungs.
Step 2. Check if you are allergic to any plants
Some release pollen and other allergens into the air, so see if your plants can make your lungs worse.
Step 3. Use a HEPA filter
These filters can remove allergen particles and debris from the air, contributing to respiratory health.
Ozonizing purifiers are not effective in reducing the amount of allergens in the air and can further irritate the lungs
Part 3 of 5: Breathing Better
Step 1. Learn to breathe correctly
One of the most effective natural methods for strengthening your lungs is breathing right. Inhale using your diaphragm, expanding and forcing your lower belly muscles, then contract the muscles back in as you exhale.
Unlike breathing through your chest, this will increase your breathing capacity and lung power
Step 2. Time your breath
Breathe in and out, counting the seconds, and strive to increase this time progressively until you double or triple it.
Don't hold your breath for too long right away. Doing so can deprive your brain of oxygen, causing dizziness and fainting
Step 3. Improve your posture
Staying upright can help open your lungs and develop your strength, whether sitting or standing.
A good exercise for this is to sit in a chair with your back straight, extend your arms straight up, and breathe deeply
Part 4 of 5: Using Alternative Therapies
Keep an open mind. Some of the following tips have no scientific basis or have been tested in very limited studies. Always talk to your doctor before starting any alternative therapy, as some herbs and minerals can be harmful if combined with allopathic remedies.
Step 1. Include oregano in your recipes
This seasoning contains carvacol and rosmarinic acid, two excellent decongestants and histamine reducers for the respiratory system and airways.
- The carwol and thymol found in oil of oregano are very effective against bacteria such as staphylococcus aureus and pseudomonas aeruginosa.
- It can be eaten dry or fresh, and you can add two to three drops of its oil to your milk or juice daily.
Step 2. Vaporize with eucalyptus and feel its expectorant properties
Eucalyptus is a common ingredient in lozenges and cough syrups. This is due to cineole, an expectorant substance that relieves airway congestion.
- To vaporize, add a few drops of this oil to a bowl of hot water and inhale for up to 15 minutes.
- Beware of eucalyptus oil, as it can interfere with the liver processing of certain drugs and alter their effects, causing adverse reactions. Before using it, talk to your doctor about treatments that may be affected, including medications such as:
Voltaren, Ibuprofen, Motrin, Celebrex, Warfarin and Allegra, among others
Step 3. Take hot baths to clear your lungs
Taking a sauna or taking a very hot bath increases sweat production and helps the lungs excrete toxic substances.
- Drink water after a long bath or sauna so you don't get dehydrated.
- Thoroughly clean bathtubs and basins used for these purposes to prevent infections. High temperatures facilitate the proliferation of bacteria. In heated swimming pools and public saunas the strong smell of chlorine can mislead and give the impression that the water is treated, but it is still difficult to ensure the bactericidal level of hydrochloric acid dissolved in hot water. In tests the results may reveal high levels of chlorine, but most of it may be in a form that has little impact on contaminating organisms.
Step 4. Use mint to relieve lung muscles
It and its oil contain menthol, an ingredient known for its relaxing properties to the muscles of the respiratory system.
- Both are excellent decongestants for their antihistamine properties. Prefer to chew two or three mint leaves instead of consuming it in sweets and the results will be immediate.
- Menthol can also be found in chest ointments and other inhalant remedies - many people prefer to use them this way to relieve congestion.
Step 5. Drink mullein tea
Mullein is known to clear excess mucus from the bronchi, and both its flowers and leaves can be used to make a great herbal extract to strengthen the lungs.
- Herbalists use it to eliminate excess mucus, clean the bronchi and reduce inflammation in the respiratory system.
- Mix a tablespoon of dried herb with a teacup of boiled water to consume as a tea.
Step 6. Research the licorice
Licorice root tea can be especially helpful for respiratory congestion as it reduces swelling, thins secretions, and relieves coughing.
- It is great for thinning and expelling phlegm.
- Licorice root is known for its antibacterial and antiviral properties, which help with recovery from infections.
Step 7. Ginger is a powerful ally in lung detoxification
Current studies link it to preventing and inhibiting the growth of non-small cells of certain types of cancer.
- Drink ginger tea with lemon to ease your breathing.
- Consuming it raw or cooked is also great for digestion.
Part 5 of 5: Understanding Risk Factors in Healthy Lungs
Step 1. Notice the symptoms
A cough that lasts more than a month, making breathing difficult and shortening your breath is a reason to see a doctor immediately.
Step 2. Learn about COPD
Chronic Obstructive Lung Disease encompasses conditions such as bronchitis and emphysema, but many sufferers have a mixture of the two. It is progressive, that is, it develops over time and affects around 7.3 billion individuals in Brazil.
- It mainly affects the pulmonary alveoli, which are small air pockets responsible for the gas exchange of oxygen and carbon dioxide.
- Emphysema is a disease in which the bronchi and bronchioles systematically inflame, swell, and clog, causing the alveoli to increase in size; when they reach their limit, the alveoli explode and fuse, making it difficult to transfer oxygen and carbon dioxide.
- Chronic bronchitis causes the lungs to produce more mucus than normal, which clogs the airways and overloads the alveoli, making breathing worse.
Step 3. Know who is most susceptible to COPD
While anyone can develop it, some demographics are more predisposed than others. COPD affects more adults over 40 than children, for example.
There is no significant difference between men and women, but smokers are much more at risk of suffering from this disease
- Fight for improvements in air quality. Many places in Brazil have very bad air quality caused by different pollutions. Although it seems that nothing can be done, find out about environmental laws and find out which politicians are most involved with this cause.
It is also possible to join local activism groups. If you have asthma, seek out asthma support groups that can provide tips on how to live better in places where the air quality is poor