By Benprince Ezeh
ALTHOUGH the human heart gets more attention than the lungs, but these organs play a crucial role in the wellbeing of every individual. Perhaps, the Covid-19 pandemic has drawn attention to the need to take extra care of the lungs since it is generally believed that the virus attacks the lungs among other organs in the body and that persons with any medical issue with his or her lungs may hardly make it if infected with the dreaded virus.
According to medical records, a healthy person takes about 25,000 breaths a day and that the lungs take oxygen from the atmosphere and transfer it into the bloodstream. The lungs also take carbon dioxide from the blood and release it into the atmosphere. The cells in our body need oxygen to function efficiently and if our lungs are damaged, they can’t perform their functions. And when harmful substances enter the lungs, they can damage the airways and threaten the lungs’ ability to work properly, causing issues like respiratory disease and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.
However, certain habits can damage the lungs and doctors’ advice that some healthy habits can be useful in maintaining the health of your lungs and keep them working optimally even into your old age.
A heart-healthy lifestyle is also good for the lungs. But if your health habits aren’t up to par, or you’re putting your lungs in harm’s way, you could be at greater risk for lung infections and disease. “Lung infections often develop as a complication of another chronic illness and controlling any chronic medical problem can potentially reduce your risk of developing a respiratory infection,” says Felicita Ogbu, a Nigerian doctor based in Ukraine.
According to the doctor, you’ve heard it before, but pulmonologists can’t say it enough: Stop smoking. “It’s the number one cause of lung cancer deaths and a major risk factor for lung infections and disease, including chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, COPD, which includes emphysema and chronic bronchitis.
“Smoking tobacco or inhaling second-hand smoke gunk’s up to your lungs’ self-cleaning system. Toxins and cancer-causing particles lodge in your airways and in the tiny air sacs (called alveoli) that supply your blood with oxygen and get rid of carbon dioxide.
“Smoking breaks down some of these lovely little barriers and restraints that we have in the lung to protect it. Marijuana smoke is no better. It contains many of the same chemicals and carcinogens as tobacco smoke, according to the lung association. As for e-cigarettes, a 2018 government report concludes that vamping cartridges contain and emit potentially toxic substances. Acrolein, a common ingredient, causes irreversible lung damage, says the lung association,” Ogbu said.
Emmanuel Enang, a doctor with Federal Medical Center, FMC, Abeokuta, said that regular exercise is probably the most important thing you can do for the health of your lungs. “Just as exercise keeps your body in shape, it keeps your lungs in shape too. When you exercise, your heart beats faster and your lungs work harder. Your body needs more oxygen to fuel your muscles, which makes your lungs step up their activity to deliver that oxygen, while expelling additional carbon dioxide.
“During exercise, your breathing increases from about 15 times a minute to about 40 to 60 times a minute. That’s why it’s important to regularly do aerobic exercise that gets you breathing hard, which is the type of exercise that provides the best workout for your lungs. The muscles between your ribs also expand and contract, and the air sacs inside your lungs work quickly to exchange oxygen for carbon dioxide.
The more you exercise, the more efficient your lungs become, creating strong, healthy lungs through exercise helps you to better resist aging and disease. Even if you do develop lung disease down the road, exercise helps to slow the progression and keeps you active longer, Enang said.
Enang advises that one should avoid getting infections, especially in old age. “Infections can be particularly dangerous for your lungs, especially as you age. Those, who already have lung diseases like COPD is particularly at risk for infections. Even healthy seniors, though, can easily develop pneumonia if they’re not careful. One needs to avoid lung infections by keeping your hands clean. Wash regularly with warm water and soap, and avoid touching your face as much as possible,” he states.
However, spicing up your diet is essential in keeping you off any ailment. Researchers have linked good lung function with high intakes of vitamins C, E, and beta-carotene, all of which are present in apples. Apples are rich in antioxidants that help keep your lungs healthy.
A high intake of water often is necessary for cleansing and washing dirt away for easy passage of air. Other diets are Berries, Broccoli, Cayenne pepper, Flaxseeds, Ginger, Garlic, and Turmeric.
Jennifer Ani, a nutritionist says that she can only advice people to constantly use ginger and garlic because it helps in breathing well. “Ginger is not only anti-inflammatory but also helps in detoxifying and promoting the elimination of pollutants from the lungs. It helps in relieving congestion, unclogging air-passages and improving circulation to the lungs for further boosting of the health of the lungs.
“For garlic, it comprises flavonoids that stimulate the production of glutathione, which helps enhance the elimination of toxins and carcinogens, it further helps your lungs to function better,” she said.
In conclusion, proper functioning of our lungs is vital for our health and in combating the coronavirus pandemic, it is advisable to avoid activities that may harm the lungs and adhere to diets that will help to keep you fit and remain safe.
– June 26, 2020 @ 18:53 GMT |