Tools and Knowledge to Improve Lung Health
There’s a lot we take for granted, like our heartbeats, waking up each morning, or our lungs. They feel like just a normal part of our life, something we don’t need to think about unless there’s a problem. Yet we wait, our own breaths held, for the cry of a newborn baby! Once we hear it, we relax–so we know how important it is to protect and improve lung health.
It’s important for us to maintain a healthy flow of air in and out of our lungs–just like it is for that little new life to take its first breath.
Our lungs are amazing in what they do! As we age, our breathing can change. It can be impacted by environmental changes, strong emotions, the inability to let things go, and even when our diets are out of whack. So, how do we take care of our lungs?
Food Allergies and Their Role in Lung Health
There are many things we can do to improve our lung health. One of the easiest is to look at our diets and identify different foods we might be sensitive to. They’re technically called “delayed food allergies” and can play a major role in asthma and bronchitis! Crazy, right!?
It might seem like a guessing game to determine what foods you’re sensitive to, but fortunately there are easy blood tests to help you out! It’s called IGG Delayed Antibody Testing.
This may be looking into if you find you have some of the physical symptoms of food allergies. These include:
- Inflammatory Signs (Sinusitis, Rhinitis, Arthritis, Phlegm)
- Dark Circles Under Eyes
- Dry/Burning Eyes
- Ear Itching or Chronic Ear Infections
- Some Autoimmune Conditions
- Eczema, Acne, or Sensitive Skin
- Migraines or Recurrent Headaches
- Burning or Stiff Sensation in the Muscles
- Aches and Pains (that come and go for no reason)
- Chronically Swollen Lymph Nodes
- A History of Tonsillitis or Appendicitis
If you’re often struggling with the above, this test (and some dietary changes) might be worth looking into!
Improve Lung Health by Focusing on Breathing
Another amazing way to help our lungs is to focus on our breathing. Obviously, avoid things that harm your lungs first–like smoking or vaping. These are the leading causes of “popcorn lung” (inflammation, scarring, or damage in the smallest of the lungs’ airways). It’s also best to avoid air pollution, like smoke of any kind, and chemicals (room deodorizers, pesticides, heavy perfumes, etc), whenever possible.
Fortunately, we can also help our lungs by practicing deep breathing techniques daily. This not only can help improve lung health…but it can lower stress a lot too!
High stress can leave us in “fight or flight” mode, when we should be in a “rest and digest” state. Deep breathing activates the parasympathetic nervous system, which helps to calm us down into that restful state.
It’s easy to tell if your Sympathetic “Fight or Flight” response is activated. Try:
- Finding a quiet space and close your eyes
- Taking a breath in through your nostrils
Notice which side the air flows more easily through. If it’s the right, your Fight and Flight is engaged. If it’s the left, you’re in a state of Parasympathetic “Rest and Digest.” Equal breath flow reveals Autonomic Balance–the most optimal state for both Alkalinity and Mitochondrial Energy Production (more on that in later blogs!).
So…how can we breathe better?
Guidance for Developing a Breathing Practice
- Do this at the same time every morning or evening (or both!)
- Practice in the same place every time at home. Try to devote a room in your home to breathing.
- As you grow stronger, practice abdominal breathing wherever you experience stress: Driving, at work, at home, paying bills, thinking about bills, during conversations…it is a wonderful skill to develop.
- If you are forcing the retention of the breath, then you are practicing pranayama incorrectly and it can negatively impact your nervous system.
- Force is heard as stuttered inhalation/exhalation, imbalanced inhalation/exhalation where the beginning breath sounds different than the ending breath, harsh/gasping transitions between inhalation (retention) exhalation (release), or muscle tension
- The breath sound should be smooth and effortless with transitions between the four phases of breath seamless and almost undetectable
(Thank you to Dr Henele E’ale, ND for these!)
What You Need Overall to Improve Lung Health
Now that we have a few more tools to work with, we just need to make our lung health a priority. Try to avoid harmful impacts on your lungs, modify your diet as needed, and set aside a few minutes every day to work on building our breathing skills. In fact, set that phone down now and get to it! Social media isn’t going anywhere and the kids aren’t up yet (wink wink).
Of course, each of us has a different story and health needs, so you can also benefit from an Herbal Consultation here. If you have a lot of health issues, it’s always good to ask your ND, Herbalist, or another practitioner about these herbs or any others you are unsure of. We’ll provide guidance!
*For educational purposes only. This information has not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This information is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease (Because why would we want to do that?)