You probably know that smoking is one of the worst things you can do for your lungs. But do you know what one of the best things is? New research suggests that a small dietary change could make a big difference.
You’ve probably heard the advice to eat a rainbow’s worth of fruits and vegetables every day. That’s because different nutrients and antioxidants help create the various colors. And this advice helps you steer clear of less-nutritious foods like white sugar and flour.
Some of us are hit or miss when it comes to this advice - a little red here, a little green there. But if you want to protect your lungs, you need to make sure you’re incorporating blue and purple foods. Fruits like red grapes and blueberries contain important flavonoids called anthocyanins. Anthocyanins are antioxidants. They’re also anti-inflammatory. And that makes them great at protecting your lungs.
Researchers in the Human Nutrition Division of the Department of International Health at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health conducted a study to investigate this protection. Earlier studies found that anthocyanins travel to lung tissue quickly. We also know that they can help animals with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). The researchers wanted to confirm that they help human lungs too.
For the study, the researchers looked at data from 463 participants in the second and third European Community Respiratory Health Surveys. At the beginning and end of the study, the participants filled out questionnaires about their diets. They also took a lung function test called spirometry.
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Spirometry measures two things. First, it records how much air a person can forcefully exhale in one second (FEV1). Then it measures how much air that person can exhale after taking a deep breath (FVC).
The researchers divided the participants into four groups according to how much anthocyanin was in their diets. Then they looked at their spirometry results. Sure enough, the FEV1 and FVC scores were declining at a slower rate every year for the top group. For FEV1, they lost 9.8 ml per year, compared to 18.9 ml in the bottom group. FVC was even more dramatic. The top group lost 9.8 ml per year, while the bottom group lost 22.2 ml.
Consuming anthocyanins was also particularly beneficial for people who had never smoked and people who had quit. Of course, if you’re a smoker, anthocyanins may help you too. But quitting will help even more.
If you want to protect your lungs, make sure you’re getting to the blue end of the rainbow every day. If you don’t enjoy purple-hued foods (or want to supplement your efforts), you can try Advanced Lung Support. It contains 500 mg of blueberry, so you’ll be covered. Plus, it includes other anti-inflammatory nutrients to support and defend your lungs. Other than staying smoke-free, taking this product is one of the best ways I know of to keep your lungs clear and strong.
Yours for better health,
Frank Shallenberger, MD