Top 10 Tips For A Ultra Healthy Respiratory System
Table of Contents
- 1 Avoid exposure to tobacco
- 2 Reduce the intake of fatty foods and keep a balanced diet
- 3 Limit your exposure to common allergens
- 4 Maintain high standards of hygiene
- 5 Follow an exercise routine
- 6 Protect yourself against pollution
- 7 Herbal teas are your friends
- 8 Stay hydrated
- 9 Reduce your alcohol intake
- 10 Know the benefits of steam inhalation and vaporisation
Respiratory diseases are becoming increasingly common in modern society. The common cold, allergies and sinusitis are commonplace occurrences. It is estimated that up to 300 million people around the world suffer from asthma, and the numbers keep increasing year after year. Emphysema, pneumonia and lung cancer claim thousands of lives every year.
Often, changes in our lifestyle and environment are responsible for poor respiratory health. While it is impossible to remove ourselves from the environment, there are measures that can be taken to minimise the chances to develop a respiratory disease.
Top 10 tips for a healthy respiratory system
1 Avoid exposure to tobacco
Quitting smoking (or never acquiring the habit in the first place) is the single most effective measure you can take to keep your respiratory system healthy.
It is estimated that, throughout their lives, smokers have their lung capacity diminished by 60%. Every cigarette contains more than 4,000 harmful substances that reduce the functioning capacity of the lungs, causing deposits of tar to accumulate in the walls, and hardening lung tissue. Some of these toxic deposits will cause emphysema, while others will result in cell degeneration that can lead to lung cancer.
Smoking can cause (or worsen) sinusitis, since cigarette smoke irritates the sinuses and aggravates sinusitis-related congestion.
If you are not a smoker, be aware of the effects of inhaling second hand smoke. Recent studies have linked passive smoking exposure to chronic respiratory diseases, such as bronchitis. Another study concluded that individuals who are regularly exposed to tobacco smoke during their childhood have a heightened risk of 51% of developing asthma in later life.
2 Reduce the intake of fatty foods and keep a balanced diet
The second most important thing you can do to improve your respiratory health is to make changes in your diet.
A recent study carried out in Australia suggests that high-fat foods might trigger asthma attacks and interfere with medication taken by sufferers of respiratory diseases. The main culprits are full-fat butter and cheese, red meat, lard, and processed sweets. In order to strengthen your defenses (and therefore your respiratory system ability to fight disease), consume foods that are packed with vitamins, minerals, and anti-oxidants. Vitamin C works particularly well to reduce inflammation and to fight the oxidative damage caused by cigarette smoke. Therefore, snack on fruits and nuts, and add fresh vegetables and grains to your meals.
There is much debate regarding the relationship between dairy products and respiratory disease. It has been claimed that dairy contributes to the formation of mucus and to the blocking of airways. In addition, a significant number of individuals are allergic to dairy and to the antibiotics present in milk. In these cases, consuming dairy can trigger asthma attacks and contribute to the general poor health of the respiratory system. There are plenty of alternatives for the lactose intolerant. For improved respiratory health, consider replacing cow’s milk with rice, almond or soya milk.
3 Limit your exposure to common allergens
Health organizations report that in the UK, one in four individuals suffers from allergies. The most common allergens are dust mites, pollen, mold, and animal dander. Since most of these allergens are found at home, it is of foremost importance to have a cleaning routine in place.
Vacuum and damp dust all surfaces regularly. That includes furniture, air-conditioning filters, blinds, shades, curtains, and floors. When it comes to flooring, hardwood is the best choice, as allergens do not become trapped in hard surfaces the way they do in carpets. In fact, installing hardwood flooring could eliminate up to 90% of dust mites. If your house is carpeted and carpeting cannot be removed, remember that vacuuming alone is not sufficient. Ensure that your carpet is regularly cleaned with carpet powders or similar chemical solutions.
Invest in good-quality allergenic dust covers for your pillowcases and mattresses. Ideally, bedding should be made of synthetic fabrics, and should be washed weekly in very hot water. This will keep dust mites and dander at bay.
Ambient temperature also plays a role in the accumulation of allergens. Ideally, your home should be kept between 18 and 20 degrees. Although mold spores are present all year-round, they particularly thrive in warm and moist environments. Therefore, to avoid the appearance of mold, humidity must be low (never over 50%), and rooms should be well ventilated at all times. Investing in a cool water humidifier and in HEPA filters is also a good way to prevent mold and dander from spreading around the house.
If you have plants in your home, be aware that their soil is often plagued by mold spores. Limit the number of indoor plants and add a moisture-proof barrier to the soil.
4 Maintain high standards of hygiene
Respiratory diseases of viral origins (such as the common cold or pneumonia) are often transmitted due to poor hygiene and inadequate hand washing. Viruses and bacteria harbour in almost any type of surface, so in order to reduce your chances of contracting a viral respiratory disease, it is essential that you wash your hands before eating, after using public transport, coughing or sneezing, and of course after using the bathroom. Using an alcohol-based antibacterial gel or hand sanitizer will also minimize the risk of contracting an infectious respiratory disease.
Telephone headsets are another potential focus of infection, which unfortunately, is disregarded by many. Clean and sanitize your telephone’s receiver and buttons regularly, both at home and at work.
5 Follow an exercise routine
Although people who suffer from respiratory disease tend to avoid exercising, many respiratory ailments can improve (or disappear altogether) with regular aerobic exercise. Brisk walking, jogging, cycling, and swimming oxygenate your lungs and bronchi, and gradually increase the capacity of your respiratory system.
However, be careful not to exercise in heavily polluted areas, in order to avoid breathing in harmful fumes. And if you suffer from pollen allergies, try not to exercise outdoors during the hay fever season.
If you have a respiratory disease, always consult with your physician before taking up exercise.
6 Protect yourself against pollution
A study conducted by researchers in Southern California affirms that individuals who live in heavily polluted areas have their lung functioning reduced by 20%. Urban smog has been shown to cause asthma, bronchitis and lung cancer. In the UK, poor air quality is responsible for the death of up to 50,000 people every year. In the worst affected areas, people could have their lives reduced by eight years due to exhaust emissions and other urban polluting agents.
If you live in a large city, wearing a face mask will act as a protective barrier to your respiratory system on those days when pollution is high. Monitor pollution levels for your city and act accordingly.
7 Herbal teas are your friends
During centuries, herbs have been used to boost the functioning of the respiratory system and to mitigate disease. The most effective infusions are those made of liquorice, thyme, echinacea, fenugreek and eucalyptus. Hibiscus tea is packed with vitamin C, so having a daily cup of this infusion during the cold season may help you keep your respiratory system in top condition. Remember that vitamin C is a natural antihistamine!
8 Stay hydrated
When you are dehydrated, your lungs dilate to make up for the loss of water, and their functioning becomes weak and laborious. Drinking between 6 and 8 glasses of water a day will help flush any toxins off your respiratory system. Consuming the right amount of fluids will also help in the prevention of mucus formation.
However, it is important to note that chlorinated water can induce asthma attacks. The same can be said about water treated with fluoride. Since most drinking water in our cities is treated with one of these chemical components, drinking filtered or bottled water is a good preventative measure. Consider investing in a reverse osmosis water filter as a way to improve your respiratory health.
9 Reduce your alcohol intake
This is directly linked to the tip that has just been discussed. Alcohol dehydrates your body and its consumption weakens the immune system, making you prone to respiratory disease. Medical studies have linked regular alcohol consumption to pneumonia and to poor respiratory health. In addition, heavy alcohol consumption makes the lungs vulnerable to infection and blocks the upper air passages.
For better respiratory health, drink responsibly.
10 Know the benefits of steam inhalation and vaporisation
Whether you suffer from respiratory disease or not, your body is likely to benefit from regular sessions of steam inhalation and vaporisation. Boil some mineral water, pour it in a bowl with a few drops of essential oils, lean over and cover your head with a towel. Inhale and exhale slowly. This will provide an immediate relief to your airways after a day of dealing with pollution and allergens.
You could also sprinkle your pillowcase with the essential oil of your choice. This will help maintain your respiratory system clean and unclogged throughout the night.
The most appropriate essential oils are eucalyptus and peppermint, although there is an essential oil for every respiratory problem, whether it is congestion, mucus formation or weak lungs. Consult with an aromatherapy expert for personalised suggestions.