We have known for a long time that nutrition plays a key role in preventing diseases like cancer and heart disease. And now, researchers are finally taking a closer look at its role in the development of lung disease. (I suppose we can partially credit the coronavirus for sparking some long-overdue interest in this subject.)
In fact, a brand new analysis just found a strong link between common respiratory ailments and nutritional deficiencies.
Which means improving your lung health may be as simple as getting more of a few key nutrients.
Poor nutrition harms respiratory health
The new analysis involved more than 6,000 adults in the U.K. who took part in a national health study between 2008 and 2016.
As part of the study, the participants answered questions about their diet and supplement intake. They also fielded questions about any respiratory complaints they may have had, including:
- Bronchial trouble
- Chest infections (like getting lots of colds)
- Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD)
- Coughing fits
- Lung damage from pneumonia
Out of the total group, 33 men and women reported suffering from some type of respiratory complaint. These participants were generally older. Plus, they reported they were less likely to supplement with vitamins A, C, D, and E.
On the flip side, the men and women who reported a higher intake of vitamins A and E from their diet and/or dietary supplements had lower rates of respiratory complaints. In addition, those who took vitamin D supplements had fewer respiratory complaints.
(Granted, there wasn’t an association between so-called “vitamin D-rich” foods and better lung health. But that finding probably reflects the lower nutrient content found in even healthy, whole foods in the 21st century, thanks to industrialized agriculture. Which simply means that dietary supplements are needed. So, as always, supplementing year-round with 250 mcg—or 10,000 IU—of vitamin D3 daily is a must for most people. I’ll tell you more about the importance of doing so in tomorrow’s Dispatch…so, as always, stay tuned.)
Breathing is fundamental to human life
Obviously, breathing is fundamental to human life. In fact, humans can’t survive more than two to three minutes without breathing.
But for far too long, both mainstream medicine and the “natural-know-it-alls” of integrative medicine have woefully neglected lung health as an important area of study. So, this new U.K. study is an important step.
Now, if only they would undertake the same kind of study here in the U.S.! (We have the same kinds of data, and on a far larger population sample, in the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey [NHANES], which the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention [CDC] maintains.)
Well, while we wait (don’t hold your breath, so to speak) for researchers in the U.S. to attempt a similar kind of study on lung health and nutrition, here are two natural ways to support lung health, starting today (in addition to the steps I listed on Tuesday):
1.) Follow a Mediterranean-style diet filled with wholesome, satisfying foods like organic, grass-fed and -finished meats, wild-caught fish and seafood, organic fruits and vegetables, nuts and seeds, eggs, and full-fat dairy (like milk, yogurt, and cheese). By following this type of balanced diet, you will have a head start toward achieving optimal nutrition.
2.) Supplement wisely. As you’ll recall, the new study pinpointed the role that supplementing with vitamins A, C, D, and E played in supporting lung health. So, let’s take a look at how much of each you may need…starting with vitamin A.
Despite widespread deficiency in vitamin A, I can’t recommend taking it as a nutritional supplement. That’s because vitamin A is fat soluble. So, it has the potential to build up in your body.
Fortunately, this is an instance where you CAN get enough from foods alone, since there are plenty of foods rich in vitamin A—including meat, fish, and dairy. Plus, yellow and orange fruits and vegetables like sweet potatoes, pumpkin, squash, carrots, and cantaloupe are loaded with certain carotenoids, which your body safely and naturally converts to vitamin A. So, be sure to add these healthy foods daily to your balanced diet.
When it comes to vitamin C, again, aim to enjoy six to eight servings of fruits and vegetables per day. Some of my favorite foods rich in vitamin C include: berries, grapefruits, hot peppers, oranges, and sweet peppers. If not, go ahead and supplement with 250 mg of vitamin C, twice per day.
Once again, you should also take 250 mcg (10,000 IU) of vitamin D3 daily, year-round. (Just make sure you ask your doctor to test your vitamin D blood levels once every six months. Ask for a blood test called the 25-hydroxy vitamin D, or 25(OH)D test. And now is a good time of year to get one! Optimal vitamin D blood levels are between 50 and 75 nmol/L.)
As for vitamin E, assuming you are following a healthy, balanced diet, I recommend supplementing with 50 mg daily. You’ll want to look for a supplement that ideally contains the eight active compounds that make up vitamin E—four tocopherols (alpha, beta, delta, and gamma) and four tocotrienols (also called alpha, beta, delta, and gamma).
I also recently pulled together 40 years’ worth of research into the many effective, science-backed, natural approaches to preventing and fighting against all types of lung disease. You can learn all about them in my online, comprehensive learning tool, my Breathe Better Lung Health Protocol.
P.S. Remember to tune back in tomorrow for my report on why it’s so important to regularly check your vitamin D blood levels!
“Association between vitamin intake and respiratory complaints in adults from the UK National Diet and Nutrition Survey years 1–8.” BMJ Nutrition, Prevention & Health 2020;bmjnph-2020-000150. doi.org/10.1136/bmjnph-2020-000150