Our lungs do a lot for us. Even though most of us don’t think of the lungs as something we can exercise, it’s possible to take steps to help them work better.
The air we breathe can be contaminated with many kinds of pollutants. Everything from pollen to chemicals to secondhand smoke can be trapped in the air and enter our lungs.
Our lungs are mostly self-cleaning organs, but there are certain things you can do to help them function at an optimal level.
A lung cleanses may be helpful for individuals who have a health condition that causes breathing difficulties, such as asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), or cystic fibrosis. You may also benefit from a lung cleanse if you’re a heavy smoker or have to use certain inhaled medications.
There are many ways you can practice a lung cleanse, including making lifestyle changes and performing exercises to help the lungs rid themselves of excess fluid.
Start cleansing your lungs by improving the quality of the air in your home. You can purchase an air purifier that can be placed in individual rooms. You can also invest in a household-wide purifier.
Along with getting an air purifier, you should change all of the filters in your home and clean all of the vents, such as those in the bathroom or your air conditioning or heating vents.
Be sure to replace your furnace filter every six months, too.
You may think that you’re helping the air in your home by making it smell nice with air fresheners, candles, or those popular wax candle warmers. However, these fragrances are often full of harmful chemicals that can irritate your lungs.
Even household cleaners can act as irritants, so check your cupboards and replace your cleaners with all-natural products if possible.
Getting plenty of fresh air can help expand the tissues in your lungs and keep them working properly.
Check the pollution forecasts in your area. Avoid exercising outside when pollution numbers are high, and stay away from burning trash, burning wood, or other types of smoke.
If you’re concerned about pollution or you live in an area with heavy pollutants, you could wear an air filter mask.
Certain breathing exercises can improve lung function, especially for individuals who currently smoke, who’ve smoked in the past, or who have lung damage from chronic lung disease.
There are also tools that can help you practice your breathing, such as a spirometer. This kind of device is often used after surgery to help with the recovery process.
Other breathing exercises don’t require the use of assistive devices. These techniques include:
- pursed lip breathing
- belly breathing, which is also known as diaphragmatic breathing
If you’re a smoker or you have lung damage, you should talk to your doctor about available options. They should be able to refer you to a respiratory clinic, where therapists can put you in a special program to assist you.
Percussion, or chest percussion, is a technique that can help drain fluid from the lungs. It involves having you lie down with your head lowered and tapping lightly on your back, working from top to bottom.
It’s often combined with postural drainage, a technique where you change your body’s position so that it’s easier for fluid to move out of the lungs. You may be on your side, stomach, or back.
Many people with cystic fibrosis or pneumonia use percussion and postural drainage. The individual’s back is tapped firmly with cupped hands, which loosens secretions. The tipped position helps the secretions move up and out of the lungs.
Your diet can affect your lung health in a variety of ways.
Eating vitamin-D-rich foods may improve your lung health. A 2017 study of people with asthma found that healthy levels of vitamin D reduced the number of asthma attacks that required corticosteroid treatment.
The best food sources of vitamin D are usually animal products, such as salmon, sardines, and eggs. However, breakfast cereals and other products that don’t naturally contain the vitamin may be fortified with it.
Anti-inflammatory foods and drinks
Certain foods and drinks contain anti-inflammatory antioxidants. Reducing airway inflammation can help you breathe easier — and antioxidants can help.
Try green tea. In a Korean study, consuming green tea just twice a day was shown to reduce the risk of COPD in people 40 years old and older.
Other anti-inflammatory options include berries, broccoli, turmeric, and dark chocolate.
You can also choose a diet that’s lower in carbohydrates and higher in healthy fats. Metabolizing carbohydrates produces more carbon dioxide and uses more oxygen than metabolizing fats.
An exercise routine that incorporates aerobic activity can help improve your lung capacity. Aerobic exercises include:
- cycling, whether outdoors or indoors
- dancing or dance-inspired workouts such as Zumba
- sports such as tennis
If you have a chronic lung disease, it’s important to speak with your doctor before starting an exercise program to find the routine that’s right for you.
There isn’t a lot of research that supports the use of products, like pills, that claim to cleanse the lungs. It’s best to prevent lung damage by avoiding smoking, pollution, and other lung irritants.
Some lung cleanses products might actually make certain lung conditions worse so be sure to speak with your doctor before trying any specific lung cleanse product.
For better lung health, you’ll want to start with prevention and make healthy choices. For example, quitting smoking, getting regular exercise that is appropriate for your fitness level, and eating a nutritious diet will all help your lungs.
You should also speak to your doctor about other steps you can take to improve your lung health.