Foods that help respiratory system

David Cooley/Special to Sierra StarJuly 30, 2014 

Smoke from fire is dangerous because of the damage the smoke can do to a person’s lungs. Exposure to smoke from a fire can contribute to asthma and sinus problems. A cough can be a danger sign that the cilia, in the respiratory tract, sinuses, and lungs are bogged down with foreign material and unable to move enough to do their job.

The following foods can actually help the respiratory system:

Green Tea: To help get all the foreign matter out of the respiratory tract, sinuses, and lungs, drink hot liquids. Hot liquids, such as green tea is one way to get the cilia moving again. This in turn can help get the mucus moving.

Eat foods high in antioxidants to help your respiratory system and reduce inflammation, such as:

Nuts — Vitamin E in nuts may help open your airways and reduce inflammation. Vitamin E is a powerful antioxidant for the immune system that helps to protect and repair damaged lung tissue and aids in red blood cell formation, which increases oxygen within the body.

Carrots — as well as other red, orange, and yellow fruits and veggies contain beta-carotene, which may decrease the asthma. Your body converts beta-carotene to vitamin A, which is an essential nutrient. Beta-carotene also has antioxidant properties that can help ward off cell damage.

Papaya, collard greens and cantaloupe — high in vitamin A and can help repair lungs.

Oranges and papaya — contain vitamin C, which can help lungs heal. Other rich sources of vitamin C include kiwi, parsley, celery, watermelon, and citrus fruits.

Onions — loaded with flavonoids (antioxidant), which help fight inflammation from asthma by strengthening the capillary walls. They also can protect the lining of lungs and bronchial tubes from damage caused by pollution. Apples, blueberries, and prickly pears also provide flavonoids.

Brazil Nuts — contain selenium, which is a trace mineral that can help with asthma. All it takes is eating one Brazil nut a day to provide recommended daily amounts.

Probiotics — beneficial bacteria has been shown to reduce inflammation. Probiotics seem to reduce allergic reactions, and, for some people, asthma is triggered by allergies. Adequate probiotics (gut flora) is vital for health, and contributes to a strong immune system. Supplements and eating non-dairy homemade coconut-nut yogurt is recommended as best sources. Avoid diary products, which create mucous in the body.

Apples — packed full of vitamins and phytochemicals that may improve overall lung capacity. Purchase organic apples and eat the peel as well, since that’s where many of the health-helping flavonoids are found. Apples also contain quercetin, which is a flavonoid found in colorful fruits and vegetables and may also relieve symptoms of sinusitis. Other foods rich in quercetin include citrus fruits, grapes, onions, parsley, blackberries, blueberries, dark cherries, and olive oil.

Magnesium — relaxes the muscles in the airways and helps more air get through. Dried figs, bananas, brown rice, prunes, and beans are just a few magnesium-rich foods.

Leafy greens — spinach and other leafy greens are good sources of magnesium and folate, which can help with asthma and allergic reactions.

Omega-3 fatty acids found in salmon and flax seeds can reduce inflammation in the lungs.

Garlic — can help with cleaning the lungs and detoxing them. Use fresh garlic and add it to your food liberally for at least one meal a day.

Ginger — herb that helps detoxify lungs and contributes to better circulation.

Hot and spicy foods — can help to liquefy mucus in the respiratory system making it easier to flush out.

NOTE: David Cooley of Oakhurst is a raw food lifestyle and wellness consultant who conducts classes for those who have a desire to eat healthier and live healthier lifestyles. See everydayhealthforlife.com.

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