Tips for Healthier Lungs
If we’ve been taking our lungs for granted all this while, the current pandemic and the fear it has generated would have surely set many of us straight, especially due to the way the lungs are affected by it. In any case, everyone deserves to have a healthy pair of lungs, and we’re fortunate to have an expert in the medical field who has agreed to share with us some useful tips on maintaining the health of our lungs. Read on…
Smoking: How does it affect the lungs?
Cigarette smoking is the number one risk factor for lung cancer in the world. It was reported that in the United States alone, smoking is linked to about 80% to 90% of lung cancer deaths! Using other tobacco products such as cigars or pipes also increases the risk of lung cancer. Tobacco smoke is a toxic mix of more than 7,000 chemicals which are all poisonous to our lungs.
People who smoke cigarettes are 15 to 30 times more likely to develop lung cancer than those who do not smoke. Even smoking occasionally increases the risk drastically. Many have opted to vape with electronic cigarettes as a ‘healthier alternative’. But it is important to note that these alternatives are nevertheless very unhealthy for your lungs as they contain other harmful ingredients that can cause cancer. These include formaldehyde, heavy metals, and particles, which can get stuck in the deepest parts of your lungs.
What are some tips on maintaining healthy lungs / preventing lung-related problems?
It is important to take care of our lungs as many take them for granted. Your body has a natural defence system designed to protect the lungs, keeping dirt and germs at bay. But there are some crucial steps you can take to help your lungs out, and keep them healthy. These include:
- Stop smoking and stay away from secondhand smoke
- Avoid indoor and outdoor air pollution
- Avoid exposure to people who have the flu or other viral infections
- Exercise regularly
- Eat a healthy, well-balanced diet
- Maintain a healthy weight
- See your doctor for an annual physical check-up
What’s a good diet for healthy lungs?
What we eat may not directly affect the lungs, but our food may be indirectly linked to our lung health through the cardiovascular system and provide antioxidant protection. It is no secret that a well-balanced diet keeps the body and mind strong and eating the right nutrients may support better breathing. When the body processes or metabolizes food into fuel, the body takes in oxygen and food to produce energy. Carbon dioxide is a waste product of this process, which we exhale. Proteins, fats, and carbohydrates metabolize differently and produce different amounts of carbon dioxide. A high-fat diet has also been linked to a higher risk of developing cancer.
On the other hand, eating fruits has been shown to lower these risks. Eating well goes hand in hand with exercise in keeping your lungs clear, healthy, and not overburdened. Fresh, raw foods are the best way to get the enzymes, vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants that will help with your breathing.
Reminder and conclusion
Smoking is the biggest risk factor for the development of lung cancer. However, around 10-15% of lung cancer occurs in never smokers. My advice is to have regular check-ups and not ignore minor symptoms which persist for more than 2 weeks. As for heavy smokers or smokers who have already quit and are older than 55 years old, yearly screening with a low-dose CT scan to detect early lung cancer is recommended.
Dr Malwinder Singh Sandhu
Consultant Clinical (Medical & Radiation),
Sri Kota Specialist Medical Centre