By David Blyweiss, M.D., Advanced Natural Wellness
May 3, 2019
Here’s an odd and random statistic…
COPD is third highest cause of death here in the U.S., following right on the heels of heart disease and cancer. This means more people die from chronic respiratory disease each year than from stroke, Alzheimer’s, diabetes or influenza.
So I find it strange that people aren’t talking about it.
My patients sure aren’t.
I’ve very seldom had a new patient ask me to test their lung function. Yet they’re clamoring to know about their risk of a stroke. They’re concerned they will get Alzheimer’s. They want to know how their blood sugar is. And during the fall season I get more questions about flu shots than almost anything else.
Why aren’t people asking me about the 3rd disease-causing risk of death instead of the 4th, 5th, 6th and 7th?
The truth is people never give a thought to their lung health until they are coughing and wheezing. This is especially true among non-smokers.
But guess what?
Even though smoking rates are at an all-time low, the number of people being admitted to the hospital for COPD is on the rise.
Worse, a lot of those COPD patients are people who have NEVER SMOKED! As a matter of fact, it’s estimated that anywhere from nearly one in three (28%) to about two in three (69%) COPD patients are never-smokers.
Those are numbers I don’t want to mess around with. And you shouldn’t either!
So it’s a good idea to start protecting your lungs before they start failing you… and care for them well even if you’ve already received a COPD diagnosis.
While you have very little control over outdoor air pollution or the condition of the air where you work, there are things you can do at home to avoid contaminants that damage your lungs.
I think one of the most important ones we’ve discovered in recent years is that all of those disinfecting and fresh-smelling home cleaning supplies advertised on TV aren’t good for you, your family or your pets.
As it turns out, people who use the most home cleaning products show a decline in lung function and experience airway obstruction. This is particularly true in women, who have smaller lungs and lower lung volume to begin with.
This makes it an extremely good idea to start participating in healthy home cleaning practices; without commercial furniture polishes, toilet cleaners and oven degreasers.
It takes only four completely natural items to tackle the huge majority of your cleaning needs – without risk. These are vinegar, baking soda, olive oil and water. (And if you like things to smell good, you can add essential oils to the list.)
These four items can do everything from polishing your furniture to cleaning your oven. Just Google them and you’ll find instructions on how to mix and use them for various purposes.
Another home pollutant that could be damaging your lung function is that “oh so cozy” fire that crackles in your fireplace during the winter months. As warm and comfy as that fire may be, burning wood releases hydrocarbons and other hazardous chemical substances that can damage your lungs.
And here’s one I’m just as guilty of as anyone else: Leaving the patio door open while grilling with charcoal. Even though we tend to view charcoal as a safe cooking method, the fumes can reduce lung capacity and function.
With that in mind, keep doors and windows closed while grilling… and only check on the food when it’s time to flip it over or take it indoors.
Foods high in flavonoids like catechins, quercetin, hesperetin and naringenin can go a long way when it comes to protecting your lungs. People who eat the most foods high in these compounds are less likely to experience COPD symptoms, reduced pulmonary function, chronic cough and breathlessness. So that’s a pretty big deal.
The strong antioxidant activity in apples appears to be especially protective. Eating five or more apples each week is associated with greater lung capacity and even helps restore lung damage caused by smoking.
Tomatoes, onions and other foods high in lung-healthy flavonoids (like berries, kale, broccoli, citrus fruits, green tea and cacao) are all great additions to your lung-supporting diet.
N-acetylcysteine. NAC has been used for years to safely treat emphysema, bronchitis and asthma. Because it thins mucus, NAC reduces coughing and improves oxygen saturation in the blood. It also supplies antioxidant protection to lung tissue by boosting glutathione levels. For ongoing lung support, I recommend taking 200 mg of NAC three times a day.
Omega-3 Fatty Acids. The omega-3s in fish and fish oil can reduce inflammation in your lungs and airways. This can help you walk further before losing your breath and improve your ability to exercise comfortably.
Choose healthy, wild-caught fish of the small variety and supplement with a high quality fish oil supplement every day.
In the meantime, don’t forget to boost your lung strength every day with vigorous exercise that can help increase lung capacity and strengthen the power of your lung cells.
If you stop breathing, your life ends. So do EVERYTHING you can to support the health of your lungs for as long as possible.
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