One of the best ways to help boost both the immune system and the positive effects of incorporating natural supplements? Superfoods! Superfoods are essentially nutrient-rich foods including certain fruits, vegetables, fish, and nuts, that are especially beneficial for health and well-being. They help increase your energy levels, improve mood, promote mental clarity, boost immunity and can even help you heal faster from illnesses or injury. Don’t like taking pills? You’re in the right place! Below are some ideas on other natural and delicious ways to supplement your body and diet.
There are a variety of options when it comes to selecting fruits that are beneficial for the lungs. Blueberries are among the best fruits to eat as they contain lots of antioxidants! They contain anthocyanins, which are powerful pigments that have been shown to protect lung tissue from oxidative damage. Also on the list? Apples, another fruit packed with antioxidants. In fact, studies have shown that apple intake has been linked with greater lung function and reduced risk for lung-related health issues.
Other ways to get your servings of fruit? Dried fruit! Fresh fruit gets most of the hype, but dried fruits are an incredible source of different nutrients, including antioxidants. One study even found that some dried fruit offered higher-quality antioxidants than their fresh counterparts! For lung health, look for dried figs, plums (or prunes) and apricots.
Keep in mind that dried fruit often contains a lot of sugar. Be on the lookout for no-sugar-added grocery store products. Alternatively, you can dry fruit at home in your oven. It’ll take an afternoon, but it’s as close to natural as you can possibly get. Make a large batch and take them with you for snacking throughout the day, since they’re much easier to transport than the more typical fresh options.
Vegetables are also full of immunity-boosting components that help keep the lungs healthy. Some examples include celery, which is anti-inflammatory and improves cellular oxygen levels, and carrots, which help with tissue repair and promote lung function. The colors of fruits and vegetables often signify the nutrients they contain. For lung health, try to add more orange food items to your shopping basket. These veggies will be rich in vitamin A, which is essential for the growth and maintenance of healthy lung tissue. For an extra health boost, opt for organic root vegetables. Since they’re grown deep in the soil, they come into contact with fertilizers and pesticides more regularly than produce grown above-ground. Research findings also show that the antioxidants, including Beta-carotene, lutein and zeaxanthin, found in dark green leafy vegetables such as kale, collard greens, and spinach help the body fight off infections and prevent chronic lung issues.
Given that Vitamin C is one of the best ways to promote strong lung function, increasing your intake of broccoli, cauliflower and brussel sprouts is the way to go! Did you know that broccoli contains nearly 50 percent more Vitamin C than oranges and Brussels sprouts clock in with 15 percent more than strawberries? Other Vitamin C-filled options include papayas and bell peppers. To make sure you get the most nutrients possible from your produce, eat it raw or prepare it by roasting, grilling or sautéing. While boiling is often a go-to, especially for cauliflower, it can cause as much as 10 percent of the good stuff to leach out into the water!
Another lung-boosting vegetable that is commonly eaten in Japanese culture is called Natto. Traditionally enjoyed over rice, natto has a slimy appearance, sticky feel and distinct odor. And it’s great for your body. The fermentation process that yields this unique soybean product creates a protein called nattokinase. Scientists are currently marveling over its anti-clotting properties, which could help patients diagnosed with fibrotic diseases like pulmonary fibrosis. You can find natto in the freezer section of your local Asian grocery store or specialty food market. Not keen on its scent or texture? You can find nattokinase in capsule form, too, as a systemic enzyme supplement.
When it comes to the best protein option to keep the lungs in tip-top shape, fish is without a doubt the top contender. Fatty or oily fish are high in scads of nutrients, including omega-3 fatty acids and vitamin D. Both omega-3s and vitamin D are critical for the health of both your immune system and your respiratory system. Salmon, tuna, rainbow trout, and mackerel are some delicious options to add to your diet. Try grilling them up and serving over a salad. If you’re not a fan of fish, you can always go the way of Mary Poppins with a spoonful (or capsule) of cod liver oil.
According to studies, nuts have been shown to help reduce tissue inflammation in the lungs. Some options include macadamia nuts, Brazil nuts, pecans, walnuts, almonds, and hazelnuts. Nuts give your body a dose of Vitamin E, which works as an anti-inflammatory, boosts your immune system, and promotes the health of red blood cells, thus increasing the amount of oxygen delivered to your body. A stable supply of oxygen prevents the blood vessels in your lungs from constricting and helps you breathe better. When eating nuts, it is recommended to consume them in raw form in order to help you get all of the healthy fats, vitamins and minerals they have to offer.
If you’re a fan of green tea, you’re in luck! Green tea contains many antioxidants that have proven to reduce inflammation in the lungs. These compounds may even protect lung tissue from the harmful effects of smoke and other toxin inhalation, as well as helping keep the tissue strong and resilient. Green tea is also rich in chlorophyll, which provides a cleansing and soothing effect for the lungs. Matcha in green tea specifically contributes an additional antioxidant boost, which can also help protect the lung alveoli from oxidative damage, improve blood function, and ease inflammation that restricts sinuses and airways.
Below is a recipe previously shared with us by Dr. Fenya Hacobian, Licensed Acupuncturist and Intuitive Healer, to help keep the immune system boosted:
In a pot or pan, cook:
the fresh juice of 1 lemon
2 tablespoons of honey
3 cinnamon sticks
1 teaspoon of cloves
2-3 pieces of garlic
about 1 tablespoon of ginger
Cook the mixture at a very low temperature for about an hour, puree it, and take a tablespoon of that twice a day as medicine.
Though many foods are described as “super foods”, we must keep in mind that there is no single food that provides all the nutrients needed for health maintenance and disease prevention. It is best to incorporate a variety of these foods in your daily diet. PF NOW! encourages all subscribers to consult with their healthcare providers prior to making any significant changes to their diet or lifestyle.