Food. Many of us think of it as the fuel that fills our bellies and nourishes our bodies, but food can also help to heal our physical afflictions. If you’re suffering from Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD), especially if you experience periodic flare-ups, your diet is even more important to your health and well-being. There is a direct link between chronic inflammation and COPD, and the foods you ingest can either reduce or aggravate this inflammation. Check out these five foods (and vitamins) from LIVESTRONG that can help you to fight lung inflammation head on.
1) Liver (Vitamin A): This organ has the highest amount of food-based vitamin A around, according to Discover Fit and Health. However, since the liver is responsible for filtering out toxins and is also high in saturated fat, experts do not recommend eating it more than once or twice a month. If the idea of eating liver makes you squeamish, the National Institutes of Health suggest filling up on beta-carotene rich foods, like spinach, pumpkin, carrots and sweet potatoes (your body converts beta-carotene vitamin A). Vitamin A, states LIVESTRONG, protects your respiratory tract, opens your airways and helps to repair damaged lung tissue.
2) Papaya (Vitamin C): You probably already know vitamin C strengthens your immune system, but did you also know that this vital nutrient helps to shield your lungs from toxins and infections that can worsen lung inflammation? Vitamin C can help your lungs heal, reports LIVESTRONG, by repairing damage, lessening coughing and shortness of breath and decreasing inflammation in the lungs. Other rich sources of vitamin C include kiwi, parsley, celery, watermelon and citrus fruits.
3) Cod liver oil (Vitamin D): Naturally high in vitamins A and D, LIVESTRONG states cod liver oil can decrease lung inflammation, heal damaged lung tissue, improve lung function and ease chest tightness and shortness of breath. Other good sources of vitamin D, according to the Vitamin D Council, are egg yolks, fortified dairy and orange juice and ready-to-eat cereals. You can also up your vitamin D levels by exposing your skin (unprotected) to sunlight.
4) Almonds (Vitamin E): Vitamin E is a powerful antioxidant for the immune system that helps to protect your lungs from free radicals that can damage them and cause inflammation, according to LIVESTRONG. It also helps repair damaged lung tissue and aids in red blood cell formation, which increases oxygen within the body. Peanut butter, mangoes, broccoli and spinach are also rich in vitamin E.
5) Magnesium: The mineral magnesium can increase lung capacity, decrease lung inflammation, eliminate mucus from your airways, relax lung muscles and reduce your risk of bronchial spasms, indicates LIVESTRONG. However, many people don’t realize Vitamin D and magnesium are connected, as Natural News states. Vitamin D uses magnesium when converting supplements into its active form within the blood. Therefore, it’s important you supplement with magnesium if you’re taking vitamin D. Halibut, tuna, dried figs, bananas, brown rice, prunes, milk, yogurt and beans are just a few magnesium-rich foods available.
If you have COPD, your food can function like medicine to help you to manage and improve your condition. Discover a better awareness of the food you are choosing by downloading the free guide, “Understanding Nutrition Fact Labels to Maintain a Healthy Diet,” today.