The lungs are the functional units of the respiratory system; they pass oxygen into the body, and carbon dioxide out of it. This is obviously vital to life, so it’s important to make sure we take excellent care of our lungs!
Your respiratory system stays healthy when you support your nutritional and environmental needs for a healthy lung function, while also taking care of your overall immune and digestive system.
Along with quitting smoking/vaping, we can use many different natural support mechanisms to optimize our lung function!
Nutrition for Lung Health
Along with an air purifier, drinking filtered water throughout the day, and reducing foods that can contribute to mucus build up, you can tweak your diet to include foods that support your lung health and gut health.
Dairy, gluten containing foods, refined sugar, excess conventional meat, refined oils, and highly processed foods are the highest mucus-producing foods so try to limit them. ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀
Healthy mucus, which is clear and slippery, acts as a protective barrier to the lining of your lungs. However, when your body detects an invader, such as bacteria, toxins, dust particles and even certain foods, it produces a thick, cloudy and sticky mucus. If you have a lot of this thick sticky mucus, bacteria can become trapped, creating a breeding ground for infection and other lung problems. ⠀
Nutrients That Support Our Immunity
Vitamin A is important for your immune system and necessary for helping to maintain the healthy lining of your respiratory passages. (sources include carrots, squash, sweet potato, kale - best eaten with a source of healthy fat to help absorption) ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀
Vitamin C - Studies show that white blood cells stock up on large amounts of Vitamin C in preparing to fight infections. Therefore, supplementing with Vitamin C can help prevent and fight respiratory infections. (Food sources include bell peppers, cabbage, broccoli sprouts, kiwi - best eaten raw for higher vitamin C content) ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀
Zinc - Gives you all the immune support to help prevent and fight viral and bacterial infections. (Food sources include pumpkin and sesame seeds, lentils, chickpeas, turkey)
Expectorant & anti-histamine foods & herbs - help to reduce inflammation, expel & remove excess mucus from the lungs, yet soothe the lungs with clear mucus to keep it functioning optimally. Include carrots, leeks, basil, thyme, parsley, ginger, garlic, cardamom and fennel in your cooking.
Essential oils are the natural aromatic compounds extracted from seeds, bark, stems, roots, flowers, and other parts of plants. Diffusion is one of the most popular ways to enjoy the aromatic benefits of essential oils. Due to this level of concentration, essential oils are incredibly powerful, so a little bit goes a long way.
One popular remedy for stuffy nose or lung problems is eucalyptus essential oil, which contains an active compound called eucalyptol, also known as 1.8-cineole. ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀
Studies have shown that this compound has antimicrobial effects that can help stave off bacterial infections that may lead to lung congestion. Other studies indicate that eucalyptus essential oil has potential as a natural treatment for lung diseases like COPD, bronchitis, and asthma. ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀
You can make a steam bath with 2 drops of eucalyptus oil by itself or in combination with peppermint essential oil to relieve a congested nose. The oils can also be used in a diffuser or a chest rub with a carrier oil like coconut oil. Check with a qualified aromatherapist prior to using eucalyptus with children and make sure to use 100% pure essential oils.
Traditional Chinese Medicine Support
In Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), the lung is considered a delicate organ that belongs to the season of Fall, element of metal, emotion of grief and sorrow, corresponds to the colour white & pungent taste. Adding foods such as white cabbage, pear, and onion can support the lung.
Further, the Spleen & Stomach, which take care of digestion and nutrient dispersion, are the mother of the lung, so we also need to support our digestion to have healthy lung function. This includes eating more warming & cooked foods, and reducing foods that can cause dampness, inhibit the break down of food, and weaken digestion like overly spicy foods, alcohol, and overly greasy/sugary foods.
Adding acupuncture treatments as part of your lung supporting routine can help strengthen the immune & respiratory system, support digestion, reduce excess mucus, reduce allergy symptoms, and calm the nervous system. Acupuncture treatments can include specific ailments such as asthma, allergies, common cold, circulation in the blood vessels, and chronic nasal congestion.
Daily Digestive System & Inflammation Support
Recent studies show a clear connection between the health of our gut microbiota and lung immunity, or the gut–lung axis. Chronic digestive problems contribute to lung problems due to increased inflammation, which can leave us more vulnerable to lung infections. When our digestive system is not working optimally, we also tend to experience more mal-absorption of important nutrients needed to keep our immune system strong and defend against patogens. The digestive tract is also where we house about 70-80% of our immune system, within the GALT (Gut-associated lymphoid tissue).
So by working on our digestive system, we can also create a strong immune & respiratory system. Improved gut microbiota is associated with decreased risk of allergic inflammation, which can show as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) or asthma.
We can start by removing highly inflammatory foods (as mentioned above), reduce the risk of individual food sensitivities and provide optimal nutrition for our digestion like traditionally fermented foods, a variety of fibre rich fruits and veggies, and providing ample antioxidant support.
Our gut microbes are alive, and they need to eat too. Adding in prebiotics from sources like Turkey Tail medicinal mushrooms, leeks, onions, & garlic gives our beneficial microbes fuel to make short-chain fatty acids (SCFAs). These SCFAs (e.g., butyrate) can feed the cells of our colon to keep them healthy, leading to a healthy thriving digestion & immune system.
To further support the body’s innate defense system through immunomodulating agents, like beta-glucans & flavonoid antioxidants quercetin and baicalein found in Turkey Tail mushrooms, we help to stimulate & activate our T cells and reduce inflammation. Turkey Tail mushrooms have also been used to help the immune system become more resilient to the effects of stress and the common cold and flu, which makes it a perfect companion to a lung supportive routine.
Where To Get Your Medicinal Mushroom Supplements?
Defend Now by Eversio Wellness offers 12gr of Turkey Tail (trametes versicolor) mushroom fruiting bodies, without any fillers. The benefits of Turkey Tail mushrooms include:
- Improvement of immune function
- Prevents cell damage
- Prevents inflammation
- Improves gut health
- Inhibits tumor growth
- Provides protection against bacteria (leaving the good bacteria!) & viruses
- Rich in antioxidants improving mental health
Taking a therapeutic dose of Turkey Tail allows you to get the most benefit & quickest results for your daily immune, digestive, and respiratory system support.
By Annaliisa Kapp, Certified Holistic Nutritionist