Most types of respiratory diseases are caused in part by unhealthy habits. Chronic bronchitis and emphysema, for instance, are usually caused by smoking. Pneumonia or fluid in the lungs is typically caused by bacteria, but smokers are more susceptible to this disease. Obesity can also lead to breathing difficulties since extra weight interferes with chest expansion.
Because of this, even before you start experiencing any symptoms of a cough and cold and other serious respiratory illnesses, it is important that you change your bad habits and acquire new ones that will allow you to strengthen your lungs and your respiratory system as a whole.
Here are the top respiratory health-strengthening habits you should start applying today:
1. Stop smoking To Improve Respiratory Health
As already mentioned, smoking is the leading cause of various respiratory diseases. If you are a smoker, the first step you need to take to improve your respiratory health is to quit smoking.
According to a study, smokers have less breath-holding capacity due to the damage wrought upon their lungs. A single cigar contains at least 4,000 toxic ingredients that reduce the functioning capacity of the lungs. These substances also cause tar to accumulate in the walls which harden the lung tissue. Imagine what a pack of a cigar can do to your lungs if you can finish one in a single day!
As such, start getting serious about quitting now. Once you do, you will improve your breathing capacity and increase your lung health. You will live longer, too.
Lastly, even if you are not a smoker, you have to know the bad effects of inhaling second-hand smoke.
Various studies have also linked passive smoking exposure to various chronic respiratory diseases such as asthma, bronchitis, and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease or COPD. This means you have to take extra effort to avoid inhaling tobacco smoke especially when you are in public areas.
2. Work out regularly
Many respiratory diseases can improve and even disappear completely with regular aerobic exercise.
Some simple exercises you should include in your daily routine are:
- Brisk walking
These activities can oxygenate your lungs and steadily increase the capacity of your respiratory health system.
In case you already have a respiratory ailment, consult your doctor first before taking up a particular sport or physical activity.
Additionally, to keep your lungs healthy, do not walk, jog, or exercise in heavily polluted areas to avoid inhaling harmful fumes. In case you have pollen allergies (or any type of allergy), avoid exercising outdoors during hay fever season.
3. Eat more lung-friendly foods
To promote lung health, modify your diet, too. Here are some foods you should start eating more of:
Iron is an important nutrient that helps build the protein hemoglobin — an element that forms red blood cells. Red blood cells carry oxygen from your lungs to your body tissues.
If your body does not have adequate levels of iron, you will have difficulties moving the oxygen you inhale throughout your bloodstream. This will render your respiratory system incapable of doing its job.
Some of the iron-rich foods you should include in your daily diet are:
- Iron-fortified cereals
- Squash and pumpkin seeds
- Clams, oysters, mussels, and other types of shellfish
Vitamin C-rich foods
Increasing your vitamin C intake will help your body absorb iron better. Aside from taking an ascorbic acid supplement, you can also get this nutrient from:
- Citrus fruits (oranges, grapefruits, lemons, tangerines, etc.)
- Green leafy vegetables (kale, watercress, spinach, collard greens, etc.)
- Sweet yellow peppers
Foods rich in omega 3
Omega 3 is a fatty acid that can improve breathing difficulties and other asthmatic symptoms.
Some of the top foods rich in omega 3 are:
- Chia seeds
- Organic peanut butter
- Fontina cheese
Probiotics can also help prevent respiratory infections. These healthy bacteria can help reduce the severity of your cold symptoms as well.
Yogurt, kefir, sauerkraut, and miso soup are some examples of foods rich in probiotics.
4. Stay hydrated
If you don’t drink enough water and become dehydrated, your lungs will dilate to make up for the loss of water. Because of this, their functioning will become laborious and weak.
It is, therefore, important that you drink six to eight glasses of water every day. This will help flush toxins out of your respiratory system. It can prevent mucous formation as well.
It is best to drink filtered or bottled water or limit your consumption of chlorinated and fluoridated water. Chlorinated and fluoridated water can induce asthma attacks.
5. Reduce exposure to pollutants
To avoid inhaling toxins in the air, stay away from highly-polluted areas. If your work or daily routine takes you to these places regularly, wear a face mask to avoid inhaling airborne pollutants and to protect your lungs.
Reduce pollutants in your home and improve the quality of your indoor air to strengthen your respiratory health, too. Use an air purifier and place plants that eliminate airborne toxins such as aloe vera, peace lilies, and ferns in your home.
6. Minimize allergens in your home
Pollen, dust mites, molds, and animal dander can be harmful to your respiratory system. To get rid of these allergens, vacuum or sweep your floors every day to reduce dust buildup. Use a damp cloth or sponge to wipe clean all surfaces thoroughly.
Make sure you clean your air conditioner filters frequently as well. Lastly, keep your curtains and carpet dust and allergen-free with the use of eco-friendly cleaning products.
7. Practice good hygiene all the time
Bacterial and viral respiratory ailments are usually transmitted due to poor hygiene and improper hand washing. To lower your chances of contracting these diseases, wash your hands properly before eating, after using the bathroom and public transport, and after coughing or sneezing into your hands.
You can also use antibacterial gel or hand sanitizer to keep your hands germ-free and minimize the risk of contracting an infectious respiratory ailment.
Don’t forget to wash or sanitize your hands after using the telephone, remote control, door knobs, and other items that other people often use or touch.
8. Get plenty of sleep every day
Lastly, if you have a weakened immune system, you will be more vulnerable to developing respiratory diseases. Improving your diet and lifestyle will strengthen your immune and respiratory system at the same time. Getting enough sleep every day will do the same as well.
Various studies show that people who get an extra hour of sleep at night have a lower risk for respiratory problems and certain types of heart disease. In addition, people who don’t get adequate sleep are more likely to develop respiratory issues.
To have healthier lungs and better overall fitness, start including these habits in your daily routine today!