Today I’m sharing my best tips for cleansing and strengthening your lungs. And nonsmokers, listen up! There is a common misconception that as long as you don’t smoke, you are a shining example of respiratory health. That’s not always the reality.
While smoking is the number one cause of lung damage, we breathe in many other environmental pollutants on a daily basis – many of them right in the home. Sadly, The American Cancer Association reports that each year between 16,000 and 24,000 nonsmokers die of lung cancer.
But take a deep breath. There are many things you can do to keep your lungs strong and healthy.
1) Quit smoking and heal.
If you smoke, not only are you puffing on tobacco, but you are likely inhaling toxic levels of polonium-210 (a radioactive substance in tobacco fertilizer) and flame retardants in the cigarette butts. Drop the cigarette habit and allow your lungs the opportunity to heal.
2) Test your home’s radon levels.
Radon is the second leading cause of lung cancer. It can be found in the ground, groundwater and rocks (including building products such as some granite countertops.) Those exposed to elevated levels of radon may have difficulty breathing, develop a chronic cough, or suffer with recurring respiratory infections. Or they may experience no symptoms at all.
The EPA recommends that all homes be tested for radon. One-time kits are inexpensive but they may not give you an accurate assessment (radon levels fluctuate depending on the season, humidity level and location in the home). You may want to invest in a kit that will test the air over a longer period of time, such as this one.
If levels are high, you will need a radon mitigation system to bring them down.
3) Clean up the air in your home.
Numerous contaminants can linger in the air we breathe at home. There are natural allergens such as mold and dust as well as manmade toxins such as VOCs from fresh paint, fumes from cleaning products, and gases from flame retardants in mattresses and clothes.
You can counteract these pollutants by using an air purifier and buying plants that clean the air (such as aloe vera, spider plants and ficus trees).
Make sure you don’t contribute to the burden by lighting toxic candles or using chemical air fresheners – opt for beeswax or soy candles and use essential oils to freshen the scent.
4) Eat your veggies.
Consuming plenty of vegetables, especially the cruciferous varieties (broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage) and those rich in beta-carotene (winter squash, pumpkin, carrots) can help reduce your lung cancer risk.
Here are some easy ways to slip them into your meals:
- Keep frozen broccoli and/or cauliflower handy for a last minute stir-fry.
- Get into the habit of baking sweet potatoes for an easy side dish that is rich in beta-carotene.
- Pack superfood salads for lunch – top a pile of arugula with roasted squash, chopped broccoli and grated red cabbage.
5) Air out your renovation projects.
New building materials are treated with chemicals that can take months or even years to offgas. Keep the windows open as often as possible to air out that new house smell. Choose eco-friendly materials such as low VOC paint, wool rugs and hardwood floors.
6) Boost your lung function with herbs and supplements.
They offer a nice counterbalance to an imperfect lifestyle and environment. Here are some to consider:
- Banyan Lung Formula strengthens the respiratory system and boosts immunity.
- ALJ by Nature’s Sunshine has a cleansing effect on the respiratory system and can help to clear up a lingering cough. It is safe for children 4 and up.
- Nettle (also known as stinging nettles) is used for hay fever, asthma and lung congestion. It pairs well with dried peppermint as a tea.
- Thyme is beneficial against respiratory infections. It adds a lovely flavor to soups!
- Vitamin d3 inhibits the inflammatory response in the lungs while boosting the immune system against respiratory pathogens. (Hughes, et al)