This was written by Kelli Cooper of Rabbit Air.
If you suffer from any respiratory conditions, you probably have an appreciation for normal breathing that most of us take for granted. Difficulty breathing can severely impact quality of life and it is easy to get discouraged and think you have no control over the course of your illness. But, the good news is, there are lots of ways you can improve your respiratory health naturally, you just need to commit to taking an active role in your health.
The food choices we make have a powerful impact on our health beyond simply providing us the nutrition we need for basic functioning. Choosing certain foods and staying away from others may help promote respiratory health. If you have breathing difficulty you want to reduce inflammation in your lungs as much as possible. Eat more omega-3 fatty acids, which are in foods such as oily fish, flax seed and walnuts. Choose whole grains over refined grains; stay away from trans fats and limit saturated fats.
Research has linked specific nutrients with lung health and getting more of them in your diet may improve functioning; they include vitamin A, C and E as well as the minerals magnesium, selenium and zinc. You can easily get all of these nutrients by eating more fruits and vegetables—eat a wide variety and choose from all the different colors. Research conducted in Japan compared the diets of healthy people with people who suffer from COPD and they found that high intake of soy foods was linked with better respiratory health.
If you have trouble breathing, you may consider adopting some holistic healing modalities to cope with your symptoms and get you in a better state of mind—crucial for dealing with any type of illness. Yoga and meditation may be particularly helpful. One study from the University of Cincinnati found that these practices helped children with chronic asthma improve their respiratory health as well as reduce feelings of anxiety and depression. Other possibly helpful techniques include relaxation exercises and guided imagery.
The Bastyr Center for Natural Health, part of Bastyr University, notes that research has found that acupressure was found to help patients suffering from breathing disorders, such as emphysema, breathe better. It is similar to acupuncture except that instead of using needles to stimulate specific points on the body, the practitioner uses his hands. Researchers found participants were able to partake in activity longer before becoming short of breath, experienced a reduction in anxiety and improved breathing.
Certain natural supplements may help, though it is important to check with a knowledgeable practitioner beforehand, especially if you are taking any prescription medications. The University of Maryland Medical Center reports the following supplements may provide benefits such as improving overall lung function and increasing capacity for physical activity: N-acetyelcysteine, l-carnitine, ginseng, lobelia and mullein.
Around the House
Making some changes around your house may help too. Use natural air fresheners instead of commercial ones—they are loaded with chemicals that can irritate your lungs. Use natural cleaners instead, like baking soda and lemon juice in lieu of chemical-laden ones. Get lots of house plants—not only will they brighten up the room, they help absorb harmful substances from the air, improving indoor air quality. Keep shoes parked at the door to keep whatever you collected at the bottom from moving through the house.
When we are in less than perfect health, it can be easy to go into victim-mode and think that we are powerless over our illness. While we may not be able to completely cure certain conditions, there are always things we can do to improve it. When it comes to respiratory health, you have a lot of options to pursue and a lot of control in terms of lifestyle choices like your diet. Take charge of your health.
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