Lungs are part of the respiratory system, and their main job is to bring fresh air into the body and remove waste gases from the body.
What do the Lungs do?
- Lungs have a basic function of maintaining the process of gaseous exchange. The blood vessels in the lungs carry oxygen (O2) in the air we breathe to the cells and exchange it for the waste gas carbon dioxide (CO2). This exchange is needed for all our body cells to live.
- Lungs help to bring air we inhale to the proper body temperature and moisturizes it to the right humidity level.
- By coughing, sneezing, filtering or swallowing them, lungs protect our body from infections, pollutants and other harmful substances.
- Lungs also support our sense of smell.
Now that we know the major role of our lungs play in keeping us healthy, it is important that we know the ways to keep them in best of health to lead a problem-free life.
- Do not smoke: Smoking increases the risk of lung cancer. Every time one smokes (cigarette, cigar, beedi) toxins like nicotine, carbon monoxide, and tar cause damage to the lungs. Over time these toxins irritate and inflame tissues leading to narrow airways which make it difficult to breathe. Smoking is also related to COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease), pulmonary fibrosis and asthma. It is also advised to avoid passive smoking as it may damage the lungs as well.
- Exercise more: Exercising will make the heart beat faster and lungs work harder, making them more efficient. During aerobic exercise, our breathing increases from 15 times a minute to about 40 - 60 times a minute, thus stepping up the exchange of O2 and CO2
- Avoid exposure to pollutants: air pollutants can damage the lungs and accelerate aging. Reduce your exposure by avoiding:
- Exercising near heavy traffic, as one tends to inhale the exhaust.
- Pollutants at work by taking appropriate precautions.
- Keeping indoor spaces well ventilated, clean (free from molds, dust, pet dander) and appropriately humid 30-50% relative humidity also helps.
- Deep breething: Breathing deeply helps the lung to reach its full capacity.
- Wash your hands regularly: Washing hands properly can help prevent a majority of infectious respiratory diseases like cold and flu.
Importance of diet in maintaining lungs health:
Eat right and keep yourself hydrated is essential for keeping your lungs healthy. Mentioned below are a few foods that are great for the lungs:
- Cruciferous vegetables like cauliflower, cabbage, broccoli, kale. A review by Lam TK in 2009 stated that cruciferous vegetable intake may reduce lung cancer incidence.
- Bright orange and red vegetables-like carrots, sweet potato, pumpkin, are rich in carotenoids, known to reduce the risk of developing cancer in the lungs.
- Foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids have beneficial anti-inflammatory effects on human lung cells.
- Spices like turmeric, ginger and garlic contain antioxidants and anti-inflammatory properties which are good for lung health.
- Water keeps the blood flowing to and from the lungs. It also keeps mucous flowing and the lungs hydrated.