Breathing is one of the most vital body functions that we take for granted. This is a phenomenon every person experiences – we don’t have the time or the concentration to focus on each breath we take in and out, day after day. Yet, without us even realising it, our lungs take up to 20 breaths a minute to keep us alive.
In just a single day, the average person may breathe in close to 11,000 litres of air. Breathing in and out, hour after hour, can quickly add up to as much as 20,000 breaths a day. Crunching the numbers puts it all in perspective: we don’t give our lungs nearly enough credit. We may focus on improving our health in almost all other areas — the brain, the heart, the gut — while these two powerful living engines take a backseat.
WHAT HAPPENS WHEN HEALTHY LUNGS GO TO WASTE
Like so many other parts of the body, internal and external, the lungs begin to deteriorate with age. But unlike some other vital organs, ageing can actually cause the lungs to shrink, often from lack of use, inflammation, poor nutrition and poor breathing patterns over time. The Forum of International Respiratory Societies (FIRS) estimates the global impact of lung dysfunction, and particularly the five main respiratory diseases of COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease), asthma, respiratory infections, tuberculosis, and lung cancer, to be massive — combined as the leading cause of death and disability. l This is likely because we have not been taught how to properly care for these fragile organs that give us life.
The FIRS Respiratory diseases in the world report states, “Respiratory disease causes an immense worldwide health burden… Infants and young children are particularly susceptible. Nine million children under five years of age die annually, and lung diseases are the most common causes of these deaths.”
“Healthcare costs for respiratory diseases are an increasing burden on the economies of all countries. For example, the annual cost of asthma in the USA is estimated to be $18 billion. If one considers the lost productivity of family members and others caring for these individuals, the cost to society is far greater.” 1
As the FIRS report pointed out this lifelong lung dysfunction can start early, as young as infancy. University of Bergen researchers discovered in 2016 that children born in the winter, born to mothers who smoked, or who experienced a severe respiratory infection at a young age may have damaged lungs. This early long damage can cause the lungs to age faster (shrink) to trigger an even more rapid decline in health? The American Thoracic Society also confirmed that even low levels of air pollution, such as from smog and traffic, could compromise lung health Researchers found that the children who lived the closest to major highways had the greatest reductions in lung function’
It is true that there are plenty of outside factors that can sabotage the lungs before a child even has a chance of beginning a healthy life. Because of these environmental factors, like pollution, a child may struggle for decades with lung problems that could have been easily prevented. Lung dysfunction that occurs in adulthood may be easily preventable too researchers have discovered that many contributing factors to lung disease can be traced back to the lifestyle choices we make each day.
Diet, nutrition and exercise may have the greatest impact of all when it comes to improving the health of your lungs. The American Thoracic Society conducted another study in 2016, shedding light on the symbiotic relationship between a healthy diet and healthy lungs. Researchers found that a high-fibre diet from whole, plant-food sources, already known to protect against diabetes and heart disease, could reduce the risk of developing lung disease as well. A total of 68,3 percent of the adults who ate the most fibre had normal lung function, compared to 50.1 percent in the bottom quartile fibre group. The bottom quartile fibre group also had 29.8 percent airway restriction compared to 14.8 percent airway restriction in the top fibre group. 4
While this research is compelling, there are many other studies that prove this same point: lung health and nutrition are inexplicably connected. Healthy lungs and healthy foods – you can’t have one without the other.
A study published in the British Medical Journal in 2015 uncovered a similar therne when analysing chronic lung diseases, described with the umbrella term COPD, which may include emphysema and bronchitis. Embracing a really healthy foods diet – low in red and processed meat, refined grains and sugary drinks has been associated with a lower risk of chronic lung disease in addition to quitting smoking. The study authors said, “Our results encourage clinicians to consider the potential role of the combined effect of foods in a healthy diet in promoting lung health.”5
While exercise is recommended for almost all other health issues, including diabetes and heart disease, sufferers of lung disease tend to shy away from physical activity. It makes sense. When you struggle to breathe each day, the last thing you want to do is participate in a strenuous workout that could leave you gasping for breath. Fortunately, the International Association for the Study of Lung Cancer has proven that exercise can be safe and even therapeutic for those with poor lung health. Regular physical activity may help to minimise symptoms, increase fitness, improve quality of life and potentially reduce complications and the length of hospital stay following lung cancer surgery. 6 Children with cystic fibrosis also saw improvements in lung function after performing regular exercise.7
THE RIPPLE EFFECT
Having difficulty breathing, as a child or an adult, can be devastating, and over time, it can create a ripple effect that spreads through the body. While it is already widely understood that obesity and a poor diet may be risk factors for insulin resistance that leads to diabetes. American Physiological Society researchers have now added inflammatory lung disease to the list. Inflammatory lung disease increase the risk of insulin resistance and, subsequently, diabetes by spreading chronic inflammation throughout the
7 SIGNS YOUR LUNGS NEED HELP
(AND 7 SOLUTIONS)
Now you know what can help simple lifestyle changes that can, slowly but surely, improve the health of the lungs and reverse many symptoms of chronic disease – but how do you know when your lungs are in trouble? Depending on your age and activity level, you may have noticed changes in your breathing patterns over the years. The lungs do shrink with age, and lung capacity can vary based on height, sex, smoking habits and altitude, so fluctuations in breathing patterns are not at all uncommon. While it’s important to consult with your healthcare practitioner for the diagnosis and treatment of lung disease, research suggests that nutritional support and rehabilitation can help. Here are seven of the most common symptoms of lung dysfunction to look out for, plus seven solutions for recovery:
Symptom #1: Difficulty taking a deep breath
Solution: Having pain when breathing in or out or feeling unable to inhale or exhale completely is one of the first early warning signs of poor lung health Deep breathing exercises may provide some relief. Yoga, a practice that focuses on postures combined with deep breathing, has helped to improve lung function in patients with COPD.
Symptom #2: Chronic cough
Solution: Whether or not you smoke, a cough that won’t go away is a cause for concern. A chronic cough is one that lasts for a month or longer and may signal poor respiratory health, To promote good lung health and relieve nagging symptoms that may include cough, researchers believe the anti-inflammatory phytochemical curcumin, derived from the ancient Indian spice turmeric, may help to protect against acute and chronic lung disease. 9
Symptom #3: Excess phlegm or mucus production
Solution: An inflamed airway produces phlegm or mucus when it is trying to fight off infection and outside irritants. Excess mucus or phlegm build-up that lasts longer than a month may be a sign of Lung disease, or COPD. Because of its ability to break down and clear non-living tissue in the body, the anti-inflammatory enzyme Serrapeptase may help to dissolve sputum in asthmatic patients, with beneficial application for chronic airway disease, chronic bronchitis and COPD.10
Symptom #4: Shortness of breath/ wheezing
Solution: Constantly feeling out of breath, especially when performing daily tasks or physical activities, could mean that your lungs have been weakened and aren’t pumping out the oxygen your body needs to function. A protective antioxidant derived from edible brown seaweed off the coast of Japan, Korea, and China, called Ecklonia Cava, may help to promote healing by buffering oxidative stress that can damage healthy cells in the lungs. 11
Symptom #5: Chest pain
Solution: Chest pain, even tightness or discomfort that is considered “mild,” may be one of the main warning signs of a serious lung problem. Chest discomfort is a normal symptom of a chest cold or lung infection, but persistent chest pain that lasts over a month is concerning. Using Serrapeptase to clear inflammation and swelling may help to ease the burden on the lungs, relieving some tightness in the chest. 12
Symptom #6: Flare-ups or “attacks”
Solution: like the health of your body, lung health can change with the seasons, but frequent flare-ups or regular attacks of coughing and wheezing are worth paying attention to. Symptoms of chronic lung disease are likely to worsen over time, so you may begin to notice flare-ups occurring more often with shorter healthy periods in between. Queen Mary University of London researchers discovered in 2014 that vitamin D supplements can help to reduce flare-ups of lung disease by more than 40 percent in those who are deficient.13
Symptom #7: Chronic fatigue
Solution: When your lungs are weak and tired, and oxygen isn’t properly circulating in your body, you will feel weak and tired too. Fatigue or loss of energy is another common symptom of COPD. Without a doubt, avoiding processed foods and eating really healthy foods instead can help to stimulate the body’s natural healing system and provide a consistent source of daily energy. Low vitamin D levels have also been associated with exhaustion and fatigue.
Suffice to say, if you are coughing up blood, it is important to visit your doctor right away. Along with a persistent cough, chest pain and difficulty breathing, coughing up blood may be a symptom of lung cancer that requires diagnosis from a medical professional. Yet even with the most serious lung conditions, cancer included, nutritional therapy and pulmonary rehabilitation can help to relieve or reverse symptoms, in many cases.
TAKE A DEEP BREATH
If your lungs haven’t been feeling quite right for some time now, you can finally breathe easy. Research supports targeted nutrition to prevent and rehabilitate lung disease, with restorative and anti-inflammatory nutrients like curcumin, Serrapeptase, Ecklonia Cava and vitamin D. Taking these four “super nutrients” together in capsule form can help to support lung recovery, while benefiting dozens of other health and ageing-related issues.
What is perhaps most interesting to remember about the lungs, and all other systems in the body, is that our organs are like plants that can be watered. They immediately respond to changes in lifestyle and nutrition, flourishing and often regenerating when we give them the nutrients they need to grow. Now is the perfect time to take a deep breath and reassess — how you care for your lungs today can determine how easy you breathe tomorrow.
80,000iu Serrapeptase plus CurcuminX4000, Ecklonia Cava Extract and vitamin D3, all in one capsule.
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13. Martineau, A R, James, W Y, Hooper, R L, Barnes N, C, Jolliffe, D A, Greiller, C L, Islam, K, McLaughin, D, Bhowmik, A, Timms, P M, Rajakulasingam R. K, Rowe, M, Venton, T R, Choudhury, A. B, Simcock, D E, Wilks, M, Degun, A, Sadique, A, Monteiro, W R, Corrigan, C J, Hawrylowicz, C M, and Griffiths, C J, 2014 Vitamin D3 supplementation in patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (ViDiCO): a multicentre, double-blind, randomised controlled trial. The Lancet Respiratory Medicine DOI: 10.1016/S2213-2600(14)70255-3.