By Claire Georgiou, Reboot Naturopath, B.HSc ND
October isn’t only Breast Cancer Awareness month, it’s also Healthy Lung Awareness!
Lungs are paired coned shaped spongy organs. Their principal function is to transport oxygen from the atmosphere into the bloodstream and to expel the waste product carbon dioxide from the bloodstream and out of the body.
Lung disease in Australia is a growing health issue and it is estimated that more than 7 million Australians aged 35 years and over may be at serious risk of lung disease. 9,100 Australians are diagnosed with lung cancer each year. More women die of lung cancer then breast cancer.
Numerous studies indicate the importance of fruits and vegetables in the prevention and treatment of lung disease. Certain nutrients in plant foods have been identified as essential in the repair and regeneration of healthy lung tissue:
>Folate deficiency has been shown in studies to be highly associated with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, breathlessness and poor lung function.
Carotenoids are important for healthy mucus membranes in the lung tissue, healing and protection of lung cells. They are also important for a healthy immune system.
Vitamin C & bioflavonoids enhance immunity; a deficiency of vitamin C has been associated with suppressed immunity and poor lung health.
Quercetin can reduce allergies and histamine release seen in asthma. This is naturally occurring in berries and apples, lemons, grapes, onions, fennel and kale.
Vitamin D deficiency has been associated with an increased risk of asthma, poor immune function and an increased susceptibility to respiratory infections.
Vitamins B3, B6 and B12 may reduce the incidence of asthma, improve lung function and symptoms of allergies.
Vitamin E deficiency has been associated with asthma in children.
Here are a few dietary suggestions for healthy lung function, and for the prevention and treatment of respiratory infections:
– Consume lots of Vitamin A and carotenoid rich fruits and vegetables such as carrot, beet, red pepper, orange, mango, cantaloupe, peach, nectarine and tomato (just naming a few).
– Juicing is an excellent way to get all these varied carotenoid compounds in one juice. Many of our juice recipes include red, orange and yellow fruits and vegetables to ensure an excellent array of nutrients.
– Ginger is a gentle circulatory stimulant and its warming nature is perfect for alleviating respiratory congestion and reducing inflammation.
– Garlic & onions have mild anti-inflammatory actions and are shown to be anti-microbial. They can help fight infection, reduce congestion, inflammation and allergies.
– Drink plenty of fluid, herbal teas and soups.
– When you have a respiratory infection it can be helpful to avoid dairy products, sugar and refined flours and processed foods.
– Juices or salads containing horseradish and/or radish are helpful for respiratory congestion.
– Include natural anti-microbial herbs such as thyme, rosemary & oregano in your juices, soups and meals.
– Apply warm heat packs to your chest to alleviate pain, inflammation and congestion.
– Use essential oils, burn or place a few drops on a tissue to inhale such as eucalyptus, tea tree, peppermint, thyme, citrus oils and/or lavender. Another excellent idea is to drop a few drops of essential oil on the shower floor before a shower, the hot water will encourage the oil to evaporate.
– If you have allergic asthma an elimination diet may be helpful to identify food allergens.
– Fruits and vegetables also offer significant protection against the development of lung cancer. There are a large number of studies that indicate the importance of a diet high in plant foods such as the cruciferous family, apples, grapefruit, berries, pomegranate, garlic, onions in the prevention of lung cancer.
So enjoy all these wonderful foods that have so much potential to heal, repair and prevent all type of lung disease!