Reviewed by Veena Angle, MBBS, MD
Sometimes All We Need is the Air We Breathe: The Role of Healthy Lungs in Optimal Wellness and Beauty
Published | 5 min read
Treat your lungs as good as they've treated you. Understand the importance of healthy lungs for our lives and make sure you keep them well.
If our body is a temple, then our lungs are its canopy. Not only are they positioned above other vital internal organs like the heart, kidneys, liver and spleen, but healthy lungs also play a crucial role in maintaining immune system function, much like the canopy of a building that shelters or protects it from various weather conditions.
At the same time, because the air from the outside environment is breathed in and travels into our lungs, they become more exposed and highly vulnerable to harmful pathogens such as bacteria and viruses that could cause infectious diseases.
This is why maintaining lung health is a gateway to achieving optimal wellness. And not just on the inside, but also outside! Did you know that healthy lungs also contribute to brighter, more beautiful skin? Read along to learn more about how our lungs function and discover ways to keep them healthy.
Why Healthy Lungs Matter
As we all know, our lungs are part of the respiratory system, which means they help us breathe.
Because we literally cannot live without them
Once the oxygen in the air we inhale enters our lungs, it moves into the bloodstream to be circulated throughout our body and exchanged with carbon dioxide. This waste gas is carried back into our lungs, where it will later be removed from our blood and then exhaled. In other words, they’re the reason we’re alive at all.
Yet, every time we breathe through our nose or mouth, our lungs encounter oxygen and other gases and foreign substances daily. Not all of them are good for our body; sometimes, they contain germs and disease-causing organisms that can disturb the normal workings of our lungs. The natural defence mechanism in the lungs reacts to these unwanted elements by sneezing or coughing.
They’re responsible for our body temperature and water metabolism
As a respiratory organ, our lungs work together with other systems in our body to help them maintain a stable body temperature.
Moreover, lungs also control the water metabolism and circulate fluids in our body and, by doing so, moisturise it to optimal levels of humidity. Whenever we sweat or urinate, that’s our body trying to remove the extra and unwanted water. Watch out for water retention or any discomfort when urinating, as they are signs of deteriorating lungs.
In the same way, Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) belief states that the lungs relate directly to our skin and body hair. Specifically, our hair and skin receive nourishment through the regulation of fluids and qi in the lungs.
However, skin that appears dry may indicate deficiencies of lung qi and yin. Similarly, a lack of lung qi may also present as dry and brittle hair. Acne, meanwhile, is due to lung heatiness, whereas dry, itchy, sensitive or eczema-prone skin attributes to weak lung functions.
Healthy lungs, healthy skin
Another way to spot dysfunctional lungs is by checking out the skin condition, as the correlation between these two organs is more significant than you might think.
As mentioned previously, one of the functions of the lungs is to moisturise the body. This action also benefits our outer appearance, as it helps our skin and body hair stay nourished and hydrated. That’s why dry skin and acne may indicate that there’s something wrong with our lungs.
How to Get Healthy Lungs
Being constantly in contact with all types of substances from outside our body, lungs are equipped with an innate immune system that protects them from pathogens and the likes. Still, there are several things you can do to keep your lungs healthy.
The most obvious way is to avoid smoking. It’s bad for your overall health, but it does the most damage to your lungs. Smoking has been proven to be the major cause of lung cancer, and diseases like bronchitis and emphysema that significantly reduce lung functions.
Move your body
Another definite method to attain healthy lungs is to exercise regularly. Activities like swimming and running can improve the circulation and volume of qi within the body, as well as lung capacity. Though, if you’re not used to them, you can start with simple breathing exercises. Make sure to limit your exposure to air pollution when exercising outdoors.
A healthy diet is always good for the body, and there are some superfoods and supplements you can consume to strengthen your lungs, like almonds, for instance. Not only are they packed with vitamin E, but almonds also have the potential to moisten the lungs and relieve asthma.
Some green vegetables and fruits contain the ingredients to promote healthy lungs. One such fruit is Luo Han Guo or monk fruit, which has a natural sweet taste and can dissolve phlegm and clear the lungs.
In addition, TCM also believes that white or light-coloured foods can help to ensure optimal health function. These include foods like with Lingzhi mushrooms, white fungus, white radish or lotus seeds.
You can also take vitamins and supplements to help improve your general health. Look for supplements with mushrooms, as they are beneficial for both your lungs and skin. Additionally, TCM believes that light-coloured foods such as white radish and lotus seeds are great for the lungs.
Respiring comes naturally for humans, so much that we sometimes forget to take care of the one thing that gives us the capability to breathe: our lungs. Some of us take them for granted by smoking or neglecting physical exercises, but it’s not too late to turn that around and start from the small things, like consuming the right fruits or supplements. Over time, you may realise that getting healthy lungs is just as easy as breathing.
This is an adaptation of an article, “TCM: Understanding the Role of the Lungs”, which first appeared on Eu Yan Sang website.
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