Breathe Easy: The Overlooked Nutrient Boosting Your Health

Breathing is essential to life, and although it’s usually automatic, perhaps it’s time to pay better attention, especially since lung diseases are responsible for one in eight deaths worldwide. Air pollution is the primary cause of respiratory and numerous other health problems, which are increasing in numbers. The good news is that we can strengthen our lungs and respiratory defenses with diet, lifestyle, supplements, and specific breathing practices. These healthy adjunctions can help protect against environmental assaults, strengthen immunity, boost vital energy, and benefit numerous areas of health.

For example, one study shows that polyphenols — powerful health-promoting phytonutrients found in many fruits, vegetables, herbs, and botanicals — from apples may help protect against the lung damage caused by smoking or pollution. This is just one more reason that an apple a day may be one of the most basic strategies for good health.

The Importance of Deep Breathing

Chinese, Tibetan, and other oriental systems have long recognized the relationship between breath and body. The process of breathing — and especially conscious, meditative breathing — allows us to receive nourishment, as oxygen, and release our physical, mental, and emotional burdens.

When we inhale, we take in energy and connect our bodies to the universe. That energy is vital for our well-being. Oxygen energizes and nourishes our cells and defends against pathogens. Reduced blood oxygen forces the heart to pump more; increased oxygen has the opposite effect. In addition, deep breathing reduces oxidative stress, enhances vital energy, and improves cognition.

Specific Breathing Practices

Over the past century, our breathing volume has decreased, partially due to modern life, which seats us at computers rather than outdoors in nature. Normally, we breathe about half a liter (two cups) of air, but our real lung capacity is much larger. For a deep breath, we can take in around three liters. One of the key elements to deep breathing is engaging the diaphragm, the muscle between the chest and the abdomen designed for this purpose. By working to engage our diaphragm, we improve the ability to take in more air.

Inhaling through the nostrils warms and moisturizes the air and filters bacteria, viruses, dust, and other foreign objects. The nose pre-processes air for the lungs, reducing allergies and other respiratory ailments. Switching from mouth to nasal breathing can also help people suffering from sleep apnea.

Ingredients for Lung Health

Investing in high-quality air purifiers for the home and work environments can greatly benefit respiratory health. Indoor air is often more polluted than outdoor air and is filled with dust, toxins, mold, and fungi. Look for an air filter that’s HEPA-rated for higher effectiveness against particulates.

Keep your body moving to increase lung capacity and improve breathing. Mind-body practices like yoga and tai chi are excellent, but cardiovascular exercises like brisk walking and cycling are also important for strengthening breathing and increasing oxygenation.

A low-glycemic, low-sugar diet emphasizing nutrient-dense whole foods, lots of vegetables and low-sugar fruits, healthy fats, and lean protein can reduce inflammation and support respiratory function and immunity.

Several herbs and supplements can also increase oxygenation and support better breathing and respiratory health.

Lung Nutrients

These nutrients and foods can help your lungs cope with a polluted world:

  1. The mushroom cordyceps addresses airway inflammation and supports respiratory immunity, offering important support for asthma and inflammatory lung diseases.
  2. Vitamin D3 enhances immunity, reduces inflammation, and supports lung function. Research shows it has potential to control the progression of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and asthma.
  3. Probiotic bacteria support lung health due to their immune-enhancing and anti-inflammatory benefits. They support respiratory function and may prevent lung deterioration in patients with cystic fibrosis.
  4. Vitamins A, C, and E offer lung protection in several clinical trials.
  5. Antioxidant-rich foods and beverages such as apples, red wine, and green tea reduce inflammation and support respiratory function.
  6. Modified Citrus Pectin inhibits inflammation and fibrosis by blocking the rogue protein, galectin-3. Chronic inflammation and fibrosis (excessive scar tissue buildup) are characteristic of a number of life-threatening diseases related to the lungs, including cardiovascular diseases, cystic fibrosis, and pulmonary fibrosis.

Modified Citrus Pectin also actively fights cancer, significantly boosts immunity, and safely chelates heavy metals and toxins. Regular detoxification is also shown to support lung health.

First Step

The first step toward developing a sound breathing regimen is changing our attitudes toward the breath. If we think of oxygen as a key nutrient, the way we think of vitamin C or protein, we will naturally want to inhale as much as possible. Given the benefits to immunity, brain health, cardiovascular function, sugar metabolism, and cellular energy, it just makes sense to breathe deeply.

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