Many people with COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease) turn to diet and supplements and herbal medicine to treat the lung disease.
An observational study published in October 2020, by BMJ Nutrition Prevention & Health evaluated more than 6,000 British adults over eight years. People who reported the highest intakes of vitamins A and E from both diet and supplements, and high intake of vitamin D just from supplements, had the fewest complaints of respiratory illness, such as colds, asthma, and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, according to Harvard Health Publishing.
A healthy diet is important for overall health and lung conditions in particular
Maintaining a healthy diet is beneficial for overall health, including lung health. While no specific food can guarantee the prevention or treatment of respiratory conditions, incorporating certain nutrients into your diet may help support your respiratory system. Here are some foods that are generally considered beneficial for lung health:
Fruits and vegetables: A wide variety of fruits and vegetables are rich in antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals that can support lung health. Examples include citrus fruits (oranges, grapefruits), berries (blueberries, strawberries), leafy greens (spinach, kale), cruciferous vegetables (broccoli, cauliflower), and tomatoes.
Fish: Fatty fish like salmon, tuna, and sardines are excellent sources of Omega-3 fatty acids, which have anti-inflammatory properties and may help reduce lung inflammation.
Nuts and seeds: Almonds, walnuts, flaxseeds, and chia seeds are rich in nutrients like vitamin E, magnesium, and Omega-3 fatty acids, which can support lung health and reduce inflammation.
Whole grains: Opt for whole grains like brown rice, quinoa, whole wheat bread, and oats. They provide fiber, antioxidants, and various vitamins and minerals that contribute to overall health.
Legumes: Beans, lentils, and chickpeas are excellent sources of plant-based protein, fiber, and antioxidants. They can be a nutritious addition to your diet and may have anti-inflammatory properties.
Garlic and onions: These pungent vegetables contain compounds that have been associated with anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial properties, which may help protect against respiratory infections.
Green tea: Green tea is rich in antioxidants and has been linked to improved lung function and a reduced risk of certain respiratory conditions.
Remember, a balanced and varied diet is key to overall health, including lung health. It’s also important to drink plenty of water to stay hydrated, as proper hydration can help keep airways moist.
Besides a healthy diet, supplements may help support lung health
There are several supplements that may be helpful for respiratory conditions, but it’s important to keep in mind that supplements should not be used as a substitute for medical treatment.
Here are some supplements that have been studied for their potential benefits in respiratory conditions:
Vitamin D: Adequate levels of vitamin D are important for overall immune health. Research suggests that vitamin D may help reduce respiratory infections and improve lung function in people with respiratory conditions.
Research shows that vitamin D deficiencies may negatively affect how well the lungs function. Research also suggests that chronic vitamin D deficiencies may be associated with pulmonary fibrosis.
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N-acetylcysteine (NAC): NAC is an antioxidant that may help reduce inflammation in the lungs and improve breathing in people with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), bronchitis and other respiratory conditions. NAC helps protect the lungs from oxidative damage, reduce mucus viscosity and improve lung function.
N-acetylcysteine has been used to treat cystic fibrosis. Studies have alos found that it may even be effective in the treatment of COPD.
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Vitamin C: It has antioxidant properties and supports the immune function. It may help support the health of the respiratory system and reduce the severity and duration of respiratory infections.
Research published in the International Journal of Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease shows that the vitamin may also protect against chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), a group of inflammatory lung diseases that block the flow of air through the lungs.
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Vitamin A: Vitamin A is an essential nutrient that plays a crucial role in maintaining the health of various organs in the body, including the lungs.
Research suggests that taking in higher amounts of vitamin A during mid-childhood is associated with better lung function and a lower risk for an asthma diagnosis in adolescents.
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Omega-3 fatty acids: Omega-3 fatty acids, found in fish oil and certain plant sources like flaxseed, chia seeds, and walnuts, may help reduce inflammation in the airways and improve the lung function.
A study published by the American Journal of Epidemiology found that there may be an association between omega-3 fatty acids and interstitial lung disease (ILD).
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Magnesium: Magnesium is a mineral that plays a role in muscle function and may help relax the muscles in the airways, making it easier to breathe.
Studies have shown that people with chronic asthma often have low levels of magnesium in their bloodstream.
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Ginseng: Ginseng is a popular herbal supplement that has been used in traditional medicine for centuries. It is believed to have various health benefits, including potential effects on respiratory health. Here are a few potential ways in which ginseng may impact respiratory conditions: it supports immunity, has anti-inflammatory properties, and antioxidant effects.
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