Foods That You Should and Should Not Eat for Healthier Lungs

Mar 10, 2023


Food and Nutrition

Foods That You Should and Should Not Eat for Healthier Lungs

Lungs work tirelessly to bring oxygen to our bloodstream and release carbon dioxide waste products, allowing all our organs to function well. However, the air you inhale may contain pollutants and germs, increasing your risk of lung diseases such as asthma, COPD, and bronchitis.

According to the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America, approximately 25 million people (1 in 13 people) in the U.S. have asthma. Nevertheless, you can help your lungs function properly by consuming a well-balanced diet. Research reveals that lung health is better among those who eat a healthy diet.

So, here’s a compilation of lifestyle recommendations to support your lung function by practicing regular exercise and eating healthy foods.

How Does Diet and Regular Exercise Nurture My Lung Health?

A diet including fruits, fiber, vegetables, and healthy fats can reduce inflammation in the body, reducing the risk of developing COPD and other lung diseases. According to this study, the antioxidants in apples and tomatoes can help promote better lung function. Another study suggests that fiber-rich foods such as lentils and beans can improve your lung health.

Accompanying a healthy diet, exercising regularly can help strengthen the lung muscles, helping them to function more efficiently. Simple exercises like walking, running, and vocal warm-ups like humming can significantly improve your lung function.

Surprisingly, one way to get better sleep is to eat the right kinds of food. In addition to improving body functions and supporting your immune system to fight off infections, a nutrient-dense diet will also provide you with vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients that possess sleep-promoting properties.

17 Lung Healthy Foods for a Longer, Healthier Life

#1: Apples

Apples are rich in antioxidants, flavonoids, beta carotene, and vitamins C and E, which can reduce the risk of COPD by slowing down lung function decline.

#2: Beets

Nitrates in beets help relax blood vessels, reduce blood pressure, and optimize oxygen intake in the lungs. Moreover, the green leaves in the beetroot contain potassium, magnesium, carotenoid antioxidants, and vitamin C, which are micronutrients supporting the immune system and healthy lungs.

#3: Tomatoes

Tomatoes and tomato-based products contain a carotenoid antioxidant called lycopene, which helps to boost lung function by reducing airway inflammation.

#4: Grapefruits

Grapefruit contains a flavonoid called Naringin that suppresses the functioning of a cancer-causing enzyme. This flavonoid is high in white grapefruit, but pink grapefruit also contains a small amount, along with the lycopene antioxidant.

#5: Turmeric

Turmeric contains curcumin that helps to resolve inflammation of the airways and chest congestion.

#6: Edamame Beans

Edamame beans are rich in isoflavones that can reduce wheezing and improve your lung function.

#7: Flax Seeds

Flax seeds are high in natural vitamin E, which can reduce lung cancer risk.

#8: Brazil Nuts

Brazil nuts are rich in selenium that can reduce lung cancer risk, and improves respiratory and immune functions.

#9: Berries

Blackberries, blueberries, and strawberries are rich in antioxidants called anthocyanins (cyanidin, delphinidin, malvidin, peonidin, and petunidin). Anthocyanins help reduce inflammation and mucus in the lungs and can slow down age-related lung function decline.

#10: Walnuts

Walnuts are a good source of omega-3 fatty acids that reduce the inflammation seen in asthma and other respiratory conditions.

#11: Mushrooms

Cordyceps mushrooms contain numerous bioactive compounds that help to keep your airways open, thus reducing the risk of shortness of breath.

#12: Olive Oil

Olive oil is a great source of anti-inflammatory antioxidants, including vitamin E and polyphenols, which counteract the inflammation common to asthma.

#13: Pumpkins

Pumpkins are high in carotenoids, including lutein, zeaxanthin, and beta-carotene. Carotenoids are known for their effective antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties, which boost your lung health.

#14: Ginger

Ginger has anti-inflammatory properties that help to detoxify and eliminate pollutants from the lungs. It helps to unclog airways, relieving congestion.

#15: Chili Peppers

Chili peppers are packed with capsaicin that helps to stimulate healthy secretions to protect mucus membranes from upper and lower respiratory tract infections.

#16: Red cabbage

Red cabbage contains anthocyanins that help to slow down lung function decline. It is also rich in fiber.

#17: Green Tea

Green tea has antioxidants (epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG)) and anti-inflammatory properties that counteract fibrosis or scarring of tissues in the lungs.

4 Foods That are Considered Bad for Lung Health

#1: Processed Meats

Nitrites used for processing and preserving meats may inflame your lungs, increasing your risk of lung diseases such as pneumonitis, pleurisy, etc. Processed meats include ham, bacon, deli meat, and sausage.

#2: White Bread

When digesting the simple carbohydrates in white bread, your body has to expel more CO2, causing your lungs to work harder. Patients with lung diseases may have a harder time metabolizing these carbs.

#3: Potato Chips

Potato chips contain increased amounts of salt and saturated fat, which can impact your lung function: salt in the chips increases water retention and bloating, impacting breathing effort, and saturated fats increase inflammation throughout the body, including lung tissue.

#4: Cold Cuts

Nitrates in processed cold cuts may impact lung function, worsening symptoms in those with asthma or COPD. Instead of cold cuts, you can consume lean meats, such as chicken and salmon.

Lung diseases, such as pneumonitis, COPD, and asthma, can impact your health and quality of life. However, with simple changes in your diet, you can improve your lung health, reducing your risk of such diseases and thereby improving your overall health.

If you or your loved ones need treatment for lung infections, visit one of our urgent care centers in Irvine Woodbridge Walk-In, Fountain Valley Urgent Care, or Costa Mesa Urgent Care, today. You can also reserve your spot online to avoid wait times.