Eating for your Lungs: A Diet for Better Breathing

Breath control and timing are keynote to any swimming routine.  No matter how good of shape you are in, breathing can always pose a problem.
Certain days feel harder than other days when it comes to my breathing. Is it possible to do things to help you breathe? You better believe it! I quickly learned that your diet actually heavily impacts your breathing, especially in a physically demanding situation like a swim work-out.
Most of the American diet actually makes it harder for you to breathe. So what can you do? Here are suggestions for how to plan a diet for better breathing.

Low Salt

The unnecessary staple in American diets, most of us could go with less salt in our food. The American Heart Association has already warned, 97% of kids and teens are eating way more salt than is healthy. This much salt isn’t just hurting our hearts.
The more salt gets into our system, the more other functions are affected. Recently, studies have shown that salt actually hurts our breathing.
Those who eat a low sodium diet had better breathing after a work-out.  Why? Scientists believe sodium infiltrates smooth muscle cells like those in your lungs, and upsets the calcium levels. This imbalance triggers the cells to contract, causing labored breathing.” So toss away those chips and grab some veggies instead.

Antioxidant Rich

Increase your antioxidant rich foods.  What are the antioxidants doing for your body?  Free radicals can enter your body and extract energy from healthy cells.
Antioxidants protect these healthy cells from free radicals.  Increasing your intake of antioxidants can help your body protect itself.
“Eating a majority of raw living foods is also most likely helpful as enzymes in the raw foods are much more efficient at doing the work that the oxygen will have to be sidetracked to try to do. Eating too much cooked food causes the oxygen that should have gone to other NORMAL functions (including oxidation) to be used up with a lot of the functions that the enzymes could/should have done”. By including antioxidant rich foods into your diet, you are allowing the oxygen you take in with your breath to be used for breathing instead of taken way for other purposes within your body.

Balance Inflammation

Fatty Acids-like corn and soy- are NOT harmful or BAD. However, an overabundance of fatty acids can cause inflammation and make it harder to breathe.
Many people try to lower their intake of saturated fats and replace these with a higher intake of foods with fatty acids.  People are eating these more than the sources of food with linoleic acids (leafy greens.)
The body is all about balance. If you increase your pro-inflammatory foods with fatty acids and do not also increase your intake of linoleic acids, you are not maintaining a healthy proportion. This increase of pro-inflammatory foods leads to a higher risk of asthma and difficulty breathing after exercise.

Diet foods for better Breathing

Spinach – Full of linoleic acids!

Fish and possibly Fish O
il – Low fatty acids. Fish has been shown to be successful in bringing down inflammation, but jury is still out about fish oil’s success.
Whole Grains – High in magnesium, a mineral that the body loves to use up. The best for your breath? Brown Rice.
Peppers – Lots of antioxidants in these colorful tidbits. Another perk? Also anti-inflammatory!
Blueberries – Tried and true antioxidant adders for most people.
Beans – Again, high antioxidants. Red beans have the highest amount and kidney beans also have a large amount to give you.
Garlic – Another food that is anti-inflammatory! 
Supplements – Just keep in mind supplements are a band-aid solution and not as long term as changing your diet can be.

These foods have been tried and true breathing helpers.  If you find yourself struggling for breath after a hard work out, consider changing your diet.  If you can add antioxidants, lower your fatty acids and remove salt, your lungs will thank you for it. The easiest way to change your diet is to make sure you have lots of colors in your meals. Greens, reds, purples are all great colors to add.
Heard of any good recipes that would fit into this diet? Leave them in the comments section. I love eating almost as much as breathing.

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