Here’s a little brain teaser for you.
- This is something you do about 20,000 times per day.
- Doing it and not doing it is the difference between life and death.
- And you probably never think about until you can’t do it (or do it well).
If you answered, “take a breath” then you get a gold star!
The EPA says that the average person takes between 17,280 and 23,040 breaths every single day. But unless you’re really thinking about it (like now, probably), breathing usually goes completely unnoticed.
Until you can’t do it any longer, that is.
Millions of people find themselves gasping for air and struggling to breathe every day, due to lung problems ranging from infections to cancer. More than 25 million people in the US struggle with asthma, and that’s just one example!
Tweak your diet to dodge lung problems
And while you can’t control everything that can trigger lung problems, some simple diet changes may help prevent them. Start with these seven foods.
In a UK study researchers found that folks who ate two to five apples a week had a 32 percent lower risk of asthma than those who ate fewer apples (or none at all). And in a separate study scientists found that drinking apple juice could help relieve wheezing in some cases.
Experts say it’s likely the flavonoid khellin, found in apples, that’s responsible for opening the airways. Which means eating more Granny Smiths or Honeycrisps could help you breathe better. Just make sure your choosing organic varieties.
2. Black beans:
In an Egyptian study, volunteers with breathing problems ended up needing fewer and shorter breathing treatments when they took a combination of zinc, selenium and manganese. And you’ll find plenty of all three of these important minerals in the humble black bean.
But the black bean breathing benefits don’t end there. Black beans are also rich in folate which experts say supports lung health too. In a study published in the Asian Pacific Journal of Clinical Nutrition, folks with higher levels of folate had fewer breathing problems and better overall lung health.
You know carrots are good for your eyes. But it turns out their tops for your lungs too.
The beta carotene that keeps your eyes sharp could help keep your lungs clear, also. Experts say the potent nutrient—which gives carrots, sweet potatoes and orange peppers their color—could head off exercise-induced asthma.
The good news keeps rolling in for coffee drinkers. A meta-analysis of seven studies found coffee drinkers have healthier lungs.
Your morning pick me up acts as a bronchodilator. In other words, it opens your airways freeing up your breathing. And researchers say the results can last for hours after your last sip.
It’s the caffeine in coffee doing the heavy lifting here. Which means you could get the same results, if you prefer, by drinking black tea.
5. Cruciferous vegetables:
The entire family of cruciferous vegetables can help boost your lung health and prevent lung problems. From Brussel sprouts to cabbage and from broccoli to cauliflower, they all do the trick.
A major joint study out of Boston’s Brigham and Women’s Hospital, and Harvard Medical School found a link between cruciferous veggies and lower rates of lung cancer in women. And compounds contained in the vegetables, including sulforaphane, are proven cancer fighters.
The truth is when it comes to lung problems, milk and other dairy products can be good influences or bad ones.
If you have an allergy, milk products can trigger breathing problems. But if milk and dairy aren’t an issue for you, the vitamin D found in dairy can significantly ease the symptoms of asthma. You can try eliminating dairy from your diet for a few weeks to see if you’re breathing gets better or worse.
Other foods rich in vitamin D include cod liver oil, sardines, salmon and mackerel. And don’t forget spending more time outdoors in the sunshine with your skin exposed helps your body make its own vitamin D.
Eating more fish could help you head off lung problems such as asthma. Asthma attacks are caused by inflammation and swelling. And cold-water, wild-caught fish such as sardines, mackerel and salmon are swimming in inflammation fighting omega-3s.
Research has found that folks eating a diet rich in omega-3s have a lower risk of asthma.
Seeds such as flax, chia, pumpkin and sunflower are good sources of the plant-based omega-3 ALA, some of which is converted into EPA and DHA in your body. Plus seeds are high in magnesium. This essential mineral relaxes the muscles in your airways so you can breathe more freely.
Head off lung problem and boost your lung health by eating more of these lung-friendly foods.