Do you know what type of cancer kills more people in the U.S. than any other? It's lung cancer. Yes, 90% of all lung cancer cases are due to smoking. But the other 10% of those cases occur in non-smokers. And lung cancer is just one of many diseases that affect the lungs of both smokers and non-smokers.
For years, health practitioners haven't been able to give us much advice about keeping our lungs healthy other than to stay away from cigarette smoke. That's good advice, but the millions of non-smokers who suffer from lung disease prove that's not enough. Fortunately, new research has found that there are other steps we can take to keep our lungs healthy.
As you might expect, one significant factor in lung function (or lack thereof) is inflammation. If you have inflammation in your lungs, your airways will be restricted. One of the best ways to decrease inflammation in the body is by consuming fiber-rich foods. So the American Thoracic Society decided to find out if there is indeed a connection between fiber and lung function.
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For this study, the researchers used the records of almost 2,000 adults between the ages of 40 and 70 who participated in the National Health and Nutrition Examination Surveys (NHANES) from 2009 to 2010. Not only did they review the foods that the participants recorded eating, they also gave them breathing tests.
The top quartile of fiber-eaters was made up of the 571 participants who ate more than 17.5 grams of fiber per day. The 360 participants in the lowest quartile ate fewer than 10.75 grams of fiber a day. The researchers found that 68.3% of the top quartile had normal lung function, while only half of those in the lowest quartile did. What's more is that in the top quartile, only 14.8% had airway restriction, while nearly a third (29.8%) of the bottom quartile did. Plus, the high-fiber group had better lung capacity and was able to exhale more air in one second than those in the low-fiber group.
After adjusting for a number of factors, the researchers did indeed find an independent association between fiber and lung function. I think it's especially important to note that even those in the top quartile weren't all hitting the recommended daily fiber amounts of 38 grams for men and 25 grams for women. Imagine how good their lung function would be if they hit these targets!
I've written about how important fiber is before, and I'm happy to be able to add improving lung function to its list of benefits. Aim to get fiber from a variety of sources, including fruits, vegetables, and whole grains. You can also consider Advanced Bionutritionals Super Immune QuickStart, which contains 8 grams of fiber per serving, or Advanced Greens Formula, which has 3 grams of fiber per serving. Whole husk psyllium seed is another great way to get the fiber you need to breathe easy.
Yours for better health,
Frank Shallenberger, MD
Chong EW, Kreis AJ, et al. Dietary omega-3 fatty acid and fish intake in the primary prevention of age-related macular degeneration: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Arch Ophthalmol.2008;126:826–33.