Just because you don’t smoke, doesn’t mean you don’t have to worry about keeping your lungs healthy. In fact, how you eat and other lifestyle habits can raise your risk for lung disease even if you’ve never smoked a cigarette in your life.
The Trouble with Sugar
New research from Fox Chase Cancer Center just gave you another reason to get rid of the garbage carbs in your diet. Oncologist Dr. Rishi Jain explained, “The glycemic index and glycemic load are methods to estimate the quality and quantity of dietary carbohydrates. Examples of foods with a high glycemic index include white bread and white potatoes.”
Some foods stimulate more insulin production in the blood and the biggest villains are carbs that are highly processed. They typically contain high quantities of refined flour and sugar.
Insulin resistance that leads to diabetes is on the rise in the United States. Diabetes is currently the 7th leading cause of death in American adults.Diabetes is currently the 7th leading cause of death in American adults. #SayNOtoSugarClick To Tweet
According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), diabetes was listed as a direct cause of death in 2014 for more than 76,000 people and was the reason for upwards of 37 million doctor or hospital visits.
Insulin-linked disorders drastically increase your risk of auto-immune disease, inflammation, heart disease, neurodegenerative diseases, and cancer. “Poor dietary habits and obesity play a critical role in cancer development,” said Dr. Jain.
Diet vs. Smoking
A diet of foods that rank high on the glycemic index can increase your lung cancer risk by as much as 49% per the study released by University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center.
Dr. Xifeng Wu’s team determined that non-smoking participants who ate high GI foods had double the risk of lung cancer than smokers who ate lower GI foods.
This is groundbreaking science! When you remove smoking as a common denominator, you see the impact that diet alone has on the ability to keep lungs healthy.
Dr. Wu stated, “Although smoking is a major, well-characterized risk factor for lung cancer, it does not account for all the variations in lung cancer risk. Diet may independently, and jointly with other risk factors, impact [the risk for] lung cancer.”
We now know that long-term excessive sugar intake alters you at the cellular level and triggers chemical reactions that aren’t “normal” for the human body. Every year, researchers prove the far-reaching destruction excess sugar has on your health.
Even if you don’t smoke or have never smoked, the threat of lung disease is very real. You need to take steps right now to prevent, slow, or reverse damage to your body.
Keep Lungs Healthy in 5 Steps
1. Increase your intake of the good stuff. Vegetables, fruit, healthy fats, healthy grains (within reason), grass-fed meats and dairy, green tea, and water all feed your body what it needs to fight for you. No, this isn’t all you need to eat but these foods will give your body the healthy fuel it needs effectively and efficiently.
2. Throw out the garbage. You already know what it is and I know (believe me) how hard it is to kick. Go cold turkey or step yourself down a little at a time but get the junk food, fast food, and generally over-processed fake food out of your life for good. Say no to the hydrogenated oils, high-fructose corn syrup, and chemical additives. Your body will thank you!
3. Boost specific antioxidants daily. There are specific compounds that help your keep lungs healthy and they’re available in food. Catechins (found in berries, dark chocolate, red wine, and tea), kaempferol (found in leafy greens), quercetin (found in apples, peppers, and tomatoes), phytoestrogens (found in legumes, nuts, and seeds), and vitamin C (found in leafy greens, citrus, berries, and melons) are all excellent ways to boost your body’s natural fighting power.
4. Practice deep breathing techniques. This simple practice has been shown to “work out” your lungs, increase lung capacity, and lower body-wide inflammation (a cornerstone of all major disease). A great side effect of deep breathing exercises is lower stress and a healthier heart. This one is simple and free.
A great side effect of deep breathing exercises is lower stress and a healthier heart. #BreatheClick To Tweet
5. If you smoke…STOP. This is the biggest one (and you already know that). It’s the leading cause of preventable death in the United States. If the science doesn’t convince you, maybe the economics will. One of my best friends struggles with quitting but it would save her roughly $1,450 per year to kick the habit for good.
Naturally, you need to also avoid as much air pollution as you can (this can be hard for those who live in congested areas). It also helps if you avoid too many toxins in your home or office such as fumes from cleaning products, chemical air fresheners, or second-hand smoke.
One final note, install an inexpensive radon detector in your home. This silent killer (it has no smell or taste) is literally everywhere and accounts for about 20,000 lung disease deaths annually. It’s incredible that no one talks about it.
Keep lungs healthy with the right diet and daily habits. You’ll breathe easier…I promise.