Take these steps to keep your lungs in good shape

A healthy man
A healthy man

It’s no secret that coronavirus can hit the lungs hard, especially in people with underlying conditions like lung problems. Yet, it’s still easy to take your lungs for granted. But the truth is, like the rest of your body, your lungs need daily care to stay in top shape. The good news is, there are several natural things you can do each day to help reduce your risk of lung disease and infection and ease symptoms.

Practice social distancing

When it comes to COVID-19, symptoms can range from mild to severe. And while anyone can get it, some individuals are at a higher risk for severe infection, according to the American Lung Association. At the moment, there is no specific drug to treat the virus. However, some doctors and even President Trump have been advocating for hydroxychloroquine and chloroquine (two antimalarial drugs) to be used to treat the novel coronavirus.

According to Dr. Anthony Fauci, Director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, these drugs are still being studied, and there is no definitive proof they are effective.  So, what can you do to protect your lungs during this pandemic? Practice social distancing. Experts agree…social distancing is the best thing you can do for your lungs to avoid contracting coronavirus.

Stop smoking and avoid secondhand smoke

If you smoke or are exposed to secondhand smoke, you could be doing your lungs a great disservice. Smokers increase their risk of developing cancer and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), which includes:

  • Chronic bronchitis, chronic inflammation of the large airways.
  • Emphysema, a chronic lung condition that affects the air sacs in the lungs.

Even if you do not smoke, Cancer.net reports there is no safe level of exposure to secondhand smoke. In fact, even occasional secondhand smoke can harm your health.

Improve your indoor air quality

Stale indoor air, pet dander, dust mites, mold, and heating systems can trigger respiratory problems and other issues for your lungs. Here’s what you need to do:

  • Vacuum carpets and area rugs once or twice a week with a vacuum equipped with a HEPA filter, according to Harvard Health.
  • Clean bedding and drapes regularly.
  • Clear clutter that traps dust and mold spores.
  • Change your forced-air heating system filter at least every three months.
  • Eliminate or limit indoor plants, which can harbor mold.
  • Get rid of carpets and replace them with hard flooring.
  • Invest in an air purifier.

When it comes to secondhand smoke, you might think opening a window or turning on a bathroom fan prevents you and your family from getting exposed. In reality, toxins from smoke do not go away and are often called thirdhand smoke. They cling to clothes, furniture, and carpets.

Eat foods rich in antioxidants

Antioxidants may protect your lungs against free radicals. In fact, they also play a role in heart disease, cancer, and other diseases. So, what are those dangerous free radicals? They’re molecules produced when your body breaks down junk food or when you’re exposed to cigarette smoke and radiation. Antioxidants help protect cells from damage caused by free radicals, according to the Mayo Clinic. And of course, plant-based foods are always the best sources for antioxidants.

Research suggests there may be a relationship between the consumption of antioxidant-rich foods and a better outcome in COPD. Foods that contain vitamin C, E, and beta-carotene may protect the lungs from oxidative damage due to their antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties So load up on organic berries! A study published in IOS Press found that berries (high in antioxidants) played a role in helping fight lung cancer.

Exercise often

Not surprising, exercise can greatly improve your lung health. The American Lung Association advocates that being physically active can help your heart and lungs. Exercise makes your heart and lungs work harder to supply more oxygen to your muscles. In return, your lungs and heart become stronger. As your physical fitness improves, so too will your capacity to breathe without becoming short of breath.

Practice belly breathing

People with chronic lung diseases such as asthma and COPD can benefit from belly or diaphragmatic breathing. Similar to exercising your body, belly breathing exercises your lungs, making them work more efficiently. Here’s how to do it.

  1. Find a comfortable place to lie down.
  2. Breathe in through your nose. Notice how your belly fills up with air. Lay your hands gently on your stomach to feel your belly rise and fall as you inhale and exhale.
  3. Breathe out through your mouth two to three times longer than your inhale. Make sure your neck and shoulders are relaxed.

While this exercise may seem simple, it takes time to master. Practice this breathing exercise for about 5 to 10 minutes each day.

Remember, your lungs play a vital role in keeping you healthy and strong. Unfortunately, many people don’t even consider their lung health until they experience problems breathing. Your lungs, like the rest of your body, need daily care and attention. Now more than ever, it’s time to get your lungs in tip-top shape.

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