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Natural Ways to Breathe Easy
Written By : Mark Rosenberg, MD 
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Have you ever found it difficult to climb a flight of stairs, chase your kids around the playground or simply go about daily activities? If so, you may need to take steps that let you breathe easier. Lung damage and shortness of breath do not just afflict people who suffer from asthma or allergies. I have treated many patients who do not fall into these categories. They did not need to resort to prescription medications to breath easier and neither do you. There are many natural and surprisingly easy solutions to restore your respiratory health.

Healthy Lungs for Everyone

If shortness of breath is a frequent problem, it is time to take action. Struggling to breathe can weaken and damage your respiratory system over time. There are many reasons for breathing problems to strike, from asthma to aging to weight gain. If you have asthma, follow your doctor's treatment plan, including any medications. If your doctor's treatment isn't working, discuss alternatives with him or her before making changes on your own.

If you suffer from allergies, it is likely a doctor can help based on your individual needs. If you regularly feel short of breath and don't know why, see a medical professional as soon as possible for a diagnosis. The following natural solutions can help dramatically improve your breathing, but should not replace a doctor's care. You can start improving your respiratory health today with a few simple lifestyle changes.

10 Tips for Better Breathing

1) Relieve allergy symptoms in the kitchen - Many herbs and everyday foods can help with allergies that cause congestion and coughing. Steep eucalyptus, licorice root, or smashed garlic cloves in a pot of boiling water and inhale. Eucalyptus lessens congestion, licorice helps coughing, and garlic fights inflammation.

2) Pair your meal with a nice Chianti - This Italian red wine is delicious with red sauce, but any wine may boost lung health, studies show. Although scientists aren't sure exactly why, they believe the antioxidants in wine may protect your lungs from environmental damage.

3) Make homemade tomato sauce (or crack open a can) - Whether cooked from scratch or not, eating tomatoes three times a week can improve lung function. Research shows that people who do have fewer asthma-like symptoms.

4) Enjoy healthy fats - Fish like salmon and tuna are loaded with omega-3 fatty acids, which fight inflammation and may improve allergy symptoms. Other sources of this good-for-you fat are mackerel, sardines, halibut, walnuts, flax seeds, and omega-3 fortified eggs.

5) Don't let your weight creep up - Adults lose a percentage of their lean muscle mass with each passing decade. This causes your metabolism to slow down and burn fewer calories each day. Adding excess weight as you age can make a big impact on lung capacity. The greater your weight, the harder the respiratory system must work to supply oxygen to the body. Do strength training two to three times per week to maintain or build muscle and boost calorie burn.

6) Head to you farmer's market - Eating a variety of fresh fruit and vegetables makes your lungs healthier. Research shows that antioxidants, such as vitamin C and beta-carotene, protect your cells and contribute to better breathing. Aim for at least seven half-cup servings everyday.

7) See your glass as half full - A large study at Harvard University revealed that people with the most positive outlook on life had a slower decline in lung function over time than people who tended to see the glass half empty.

8) Jump around - In truth, you don't have to jump or perform complicated exercise routines to improve lung health. Brisk walking or any pulse-quickening activity strengthens your heart and makes for better breathing. Try to fit in 30 to 45 minutes of exercise on most days.

9) Keep toxins out - No one wants to breathe toxic fumes or chemicals, but many of us may be putting ourselves at risk from these dangerous substances. Use natural household cleaners, or use with regular cleaners in a well-ventilated area. If you work around chemicals, wear a protective mask.

10) Call it quits - If you smoke, giving up cigarettes will improve your health now and for years to come. Smokers run the risk of emphysema, lung cancer and respiratory stress as they age. There are often free or low cost resources available in your community to help. Ask your doctor and lean on family and friends for support.

Whether you find success with one or all of these natural solutions, here's to healthy lungs and many years of breathing easy!

Mark Rosenberg, M.D.
Institute For Healthy Aging

Find out more about: allergy, cancer
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