Take a deep breath. In. And out. That right there…is the essence of life.
You are completely dependent on your body’s ability to draw in oxygen and breath out carbon dioxide to go on living. Each breath draws in essential oxygen from the surrounding atmosphere and pulls it deep into your lung tissue. Large passageways branch into increasingly smaller and more intricate structures. Eventually, air is funneled into microscopic channels ending in specialized alveolar sacs that are surrounded by a complex network of interlaced capillaries. The surface of these little spherical bellows is where gas exchange takes place. The average human has about 700 million of these sacs that do this miraculous work.
And yet you probably never think about it. Why? Because it is automatic. Your pulmonary system is receiving instructions from a part of your brain that isn’t fully connected to conscious thought. And thank heavens! Who wants to remember to breathe when there are so many other things to think about? Or who could sleep if breathing were a conscious act?
Just because breathing is automatic doesn’t mean it should be forgotten. Healthy lungs lead to a long and healthy life.
So while you probably know a thing or two about keeping your heart healthy, what do you know about keeping your lungs healthy? Well, here are a few rules everyone should bear in mind…
1. Get Active
When you are at rest, your lungs are only functioning at about 50% capacity. Aerobic exercise like running, cycling, or swimming push your lungs to peak capacity and strengthen your diaphragm (the muscle responsible for drawing and releasing breath). Doctors also state that more intense activity helps counteract the buildup of pollutants, allergens, and dust in the lungs, helping them to cleanse themselves.
2. Breathe Deeply
Focused, deliberate breathing while at rest also benefits your lungs by expanding them to near full capacity. Mindful breathing starts with slowly inhaling through the nose, lifting your chest, and opening your ribcage. Then, exhale completely through the mouth, relaxing the chest, and pushing out as much air as possible. Good posture, and reducing total sitting time also assists with better breathing form.
3. Don’t Smoke
By now, just about everyone knows the dangers of cigarette smoke. It increases risk for lung cancer and other diseases by destroying lung tissue and introducing free radicals which can cause cell mutation. It constricts air passages and severely reduces lung capacity. It also creates a state of chronic inflammation within the lungs and throughout the body. If you do smoke, quitting isn’t easy, but the benefits are immense. It’s never too late.
4. Avoid Pollution
The tiny tissues deep in the cells of your lungs are actually quite delicate and vulnerable to damage if exposed to pollution and chemicals over an extended period of time. Avoid secondhand smoke, outdoor air pollution, and harmful chemicals at home and work.
5. Eliminate Grocery Store Brand Cleaning Products from Your Home
A recent independent research study has linked common household cleaners—the kind that that are found in grocery stores and big box retailers—to lung damage. The 20-year study found using these products as little as once a week can be as damaging to lungs as smoking a pack of cigarettes a day for 20 years. Researchers are learning that the damage can be extremely serious. What’s to blame? The study mentions common ingredients like ammonia, chlorine bleach, and quaternary disinfectants. But clearly, there may be other dangerous chemicals at work as well. Virtually every cleaning product you’ll find in the grocery store cleaning aisle uses these toxic ingredients. For a safer home, eliminate all such cleaners from your home now and replace them with the safe, yet effective EcoSense cleaners from Melaleuca.
6. Monitor Radon
Radon is a gas naturally found in some rock and soil. If a home is built on top of an area with radon, it can leak into a home through basement floors or foundations. Trapped inside, it can build up to unhealthy levels. Radon cannot be seen or smelled, and yet because it becomes radioactive as it decays, exposure to high levels can cause lung cancer. in fact, behind smoking, it is the second leading cause of lung cancer. To detect radon in your home, use a radon test kit which are widely available at home improvement stores.
7. Prevent Infection
According to the American Lung Association, colds and other respiratory infections can sometimes become serious. Though some illness is simply a fact of life, there are common sense measures you can take that will benefit your lungs, including:
- Wash your hands often with soap and water
- Use a hand sanitizer like Melaleuca’s Clear Defense when you don’t have access to soap and water
- Get your flu shot every year
- Minimize interactions with large groups during cold and flu season
- Keep up on your dental hygiene, including brushing, rinsing, and flossing
- Give your immune system a fighting chance by providing your body with the essential nutrition it needs for complete health; this includes a healthy diet and supplementation with Melaleuca’s Peak Performance Nutrition Pack
8. See Your Doctor Regularly
In addition to abiding by these rules, regular visits with your general healthcare provider can make sure you live a long, healthy life with a set of healthy, high capacity lungs.