Table of Contents
- Keep Your Respiratory System Healthy
- 1. Learn How to Breathe Properly
- 2. Avoid Smoking
- 3. Keep Away from Air Pollution
- 4. Avoid People With Viral Infections
- 5. Exercise and Keep Active
- 6. Practice Good Hygiene
- 7. Eat Clean
- 8. Take A Food Grade Vitamin C Supplement
- 9. Maintain a Healthy Weight
- 10. Drink Plenty of Water
- 11. Get Some Houseplants
The respiratory system is the system of organs and other parts of our body involved in breathing. This system is made up of the nose and nasal cavity, sinuses, mouth, throat (pharynx), voice box (larynx), windpipe (trachea), diaphragm, lungs, bronchial tubes/bronchi, bronchioles, air sacs (alveoli), and capillaries [1, 2].
This system works in a pretty straightforward manner:
The air you draw in travels through your nose or mouth and moves through the back of your throat and into your windpipe, split up into bronchial tubes. These tubes pass through your lungs and divide into smaller tubes called bronchioles that end in balloon-like air sacs called alveoli.
Surrounding the alveoli is a mesh of tiny blood vessels called capillaries, which pass oxygen into the blood. The oxygenated blood then travels to your heart which pumps it through the body. As your cells use up the oxygen, they produce carbon dioxide in your blood which is taken back to the lungs where it’s then exhaled from your body.
Your respiratory system only works if there are no blockages or inflammation keeping air from going in or out. Blockages or inflammation can be caused by diseases such as asthma, bronchiectasis, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), pneumonia, tuberculosis, lung cancer, cystic fibrosis, pleural effusion, idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis, and sarcoidosis .
Keep Your Respiratory System Healthy
While most respiratory diseases are curable, they may never return to their 100% healthy state. Diseases like pulmonary fibrosis, tuberculosis, pneumonia, sarcoidosis, and pneumoconiosis actually scar your lung tissue, resulting in permanent damage.
1. Learn How to Breathe Properly
Simply breathing properly reduces stress levels, helps prevent dementia, hypertension, headaches, as well as improves concentration, energy, and mood.
While you may think you’re breathing properly right now, you may be surprised to find that you could do better.
Most people actually breathe vertically, that is they’re breathing with only a small portion of their lungs, not 100% of it. This is characterized by the shoulders rising when inhaling and falling when exhaling. This not only lowers oxygen intake but also traps carbon dioxide even after exhaling.
Proper breathing, A.K.A horizontal or belly breathing, uses the diaphragm muscles fully. You know you’re doing this correctly if, when you inhale, your belly expands instead of your chest [9, 10, 11].
2. Avoid Smoking
You can prevent a lot of diseases simply by not smoking and avoiding second-hand smoke.
According to the CDC, cigarette smoking is the leading preventable cause of death in the United States. In fact, nearly 1 in 5 deaths (480,000) in the US each year can be attributed to cigarette smoking. Cigarette smoking in the U.S. has contributed to more than 10 times as many deaths than all the wars fought by the United States.
Smoking causes lung disease by damaging your airways and alveoli. Lung diseases linked to smoking include asthma attacks, COPD, and lung cancer. This is why it’s important to stop smoking or never start smoking in the first place.
If you’re already a non-smoker, make sure to avoid second-hand smoke as inhaling it can be worse than smoking it yourself .
3. Keep Away from Air Pollution
Avoiding air pollution lowers your risk of COPD and lung cancer, prevents asthma attacks, and saves your airways from irritation.
Polluted air can contain harmful environmental factors such as smoke, dust, and chemicals.
Air pollution contributed to 8.8 million extra deaths worldwide in 2015 alone. Last year, researchers found air pollution to have caused 120 extra deaths for every 100,000 people around the world.
This is why it’s important to avoid air pollution as much as possible. If you like to walk or run, keep away from areas near factories or main roads, especially during rush hour. When traveling in your car, keep the windows closed and set your air conditioner to recycle air .
4. Avoid People With Viral Infections
Save yourself from infection by keeping away from anyone displaying symptoms of viral infection.
This should be a no-brainer, especially with the COVID-19 pandemic going on. Many viral infections can become airborne and infect anyone who inhales them. This includes viral infections like the common cold, flu, chickenpox, mumps, measles, whooping cough, tuberculosis, diphtheria, and COVID-19.
5. Exercise and Keep Active
Exercising consistently is one of the best ways to keep your respiratory system healthy.
Regular exercise strengthens your respiratory muscles, diaphragm, and intercostal muscles, which lets you breathe more easily even during stressful situations. It also increases your lung capacity, allowing them to take in more oxygen.
If you exercise consistently enough, you may notice that you take fewer breaths to recover from a spurt of anaerobic activity, like sprinting. This is because regular exercise improves lung efficiency, resulting in better oxygen distribution throughout the body.
Just remember to keep away from busy roads with high air pollution when you go walking, running, or biking outside .
6. Practice Good Hygiene
Keeping yourself and your surroundings clean prevents viruses and germs from spreading.
When outside, avoid touching exposed surfaces as much as possible. If you’re only outside for a brief time and you can’t avoid touching or holding something, you might want to wear gloves. Also, refrain from touching your face as germs on your hands (or gloves) may enter your bloodstream through your eyes, nose, or mouth.
Remember to wash your hands regularly and follow proper hand washing procedures. Wash your hands immediately after you come home.
Clean surfaces in your home by using soap and water, then use disinfectant. Cleaning reduces germs, dirt, and impurities on surfaces, disinfecting kills germs.
Pay special attention to surfaces that you regularly come into contact with. These include tables, doorknobs, light switches, countertops, handles, desks, phones, keyboards, toilets, faucets, sinks, etc [18, 19].
7. Eat Clean
Maintaining a healthy vitamin-rich diet of whole organic foods keeps your lungs healthy and resistant to infections.
A clean diet keeps your immune system strong enough to fight off lung diseases and infections. Some foods also help detoxify your lungs and blood, which is especially helpful in places with high air pollution [20, 21, 22].
8. Take A Food Grade Vitamin C Supplement
Take vitamin C to protect your lungs and lower your risk of developing lung diseases.
A British study showed that individuals with a high dietary intake of vitamin C and magnesium have healthier lungs. The study also found that regular intake of vitamin C slows down the lungs’ deterioration, thereby, preventing the development of COPD [23, 24, 25, 26].
9. Maintain a Healthy Weight
Keeping a healthy weight reduces your risk of COPD, which can include emphysema and chronic bronchitis.
A Canadian study on 115,000 individuals showed a correlation between one’s waist size and COPD. Another study showed that obese individuals had reduced lung volume and capacity when compared to healthy individuals.
10. Drink Plenty of Water
Keep yourself properly hydrated to keep your lungs efficient and avoid diseases.
Drink your fluids and stave off dehydration if you want healthy lungs. Dehydration has been known to cause breathing problems, trigger allergies, aggravate asthma, and lead to chronic bronchitis.
11. Get Some Houseplants
Plants do the miraculous job of converting carbon dioxide into oxygen. Keeping some house plants in the places you frequent (living room, bedroom, work area, etc.) helps your respiratory system by purifying the air of carbon dioxide and other pollutants.
When it comes to respiratory health, prevention will always be better than cure. Keeping this vital system healthy requires some changes to your lifestyle. Follow these steps to develop an ultra-healthy respiratory system [31, 32].
Health by choice, not by chance.