How to support your lungs this bushfire season

Our lungs are part of our detoxification system.  Like our liver, bowel, kidneys, lymphatic system and skin, our lungs filter out toxins.  At the moment, with the bushfires across Australia our lungs are being exposed to some pretty nasty toxins and they are working overtime.

We can do our best to minimise our exposure to these pollutants by staying indoors when the air quality is poor, wearing a correctly fitted P2 mask and airing out our homes when the air quality is good.   

However, we can also support the health of our lungs (and respiratory system) by adopting some healthy diet and lifestyle practices, as well as utilising nutritional and herbal medicines when appropriate.   By supporting our lung health, we are optimising detoxification processes which keep us fit and healthy.

So in this blog I’ll give you some simple tips to maximise your lung health and function while we are dealing with smoke from the bushfires.

Eat foods high in antioxidants

When we are exposed to toxins we have increased levels of oxidative stress which can damage our cells and cause health issues.  The antidote is antioxidants which can be found in most fruits and vegetables.

Our lungs, whilst they enjoy a variety of antioxidants, particularly like Vitamin C and Vitamin E. Both of these vitamins are found in the fluid surrounding the lungs and protects the lungs from damage.

Foods rich in Vitamin C include:

  • Berries
  • Avocado
  • Capsicum
  • Citrus fruits
  • Green leafy vegetables

Foods rich in Vitamin E include:

  • Nuts and seeds, particularly sunflower seeds and almonds
  • Avocado
  • Red capsicums
  • Spinach
  • Pumpkin
  • Oily fish such as salmon

Exercise regularly

Maintaining a regular exercise schedule keeps your lungs working well and your oxygen capacity or lung capacity at a good level.  Whilst you should avoid exercising when the air is smokey, on clear days make the most of it and go out and exercise in the fresh air. 

Get out in nature

Surround yourself with trees when you can, as trees are fantastic at filtering the air.  Let them be your ‘lungs’ for a little while.

Up your intake of herbs

As a naturopath, I love herbs and there are some beautiful herbs specifically indicated for your lungs and respiratory system.

You don’t have to do anything fancy with herbs, you can just steep them and drink as tea throughout the day.  Or you can contact your naturopath and they can make you a herbal tincture for a more potent hit of the herbs.

Herbs which are nourishing for your lungs and respiratory system include:

  • Elderflower
  • Eyebright
  • Marshmallow (not to be confused with those squishy sweets)
  • Green tea
  • Elecampane
  • Mullein
  • Astragalus

These herbs have a variety of actions such as; soothing the lining of your lungs following irritation, reducing inflammation, toning the mucus membranes of the respiratory tract and supporting your immune function (which can be weakened as a result of toxic overload).

Consider supplementing with herbal and nutritional medicines

If you are a smoker, have a less than optimal diet, rarely exercise or you are unable to minimise your exposure to smoke, then I would suggest supplementing with herbs and nutritional medicines. 

But before you head off to the supplement aisle, it’s important to remember that not all supplements are created equal.  And there is no point taking something if you don’t know what to take, how much to take and when to take it.

Many herbs and nutrients are contraindicated if you take certain medications, or have a particular condition.  Some minerals are also best taken away from other vitamins and minerals due to the way they are absorbed.

So, please get in touch if you could use some herbal and nutritional support for your lungs.  We can do a short consultation to ensure that anything we prescribe is safe and appropriate for you.

Want help with your health? Call us on 03 9620 9503 for a naturopathic appointment.
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