Simple and Natural Ways to Take Care of Your Lungs
We are our breath.
Think about it. What’s the first thing we do the moment we drop from our mother’s womb?
We take our first breath.
And what’s the last thing we do when we leave this world?
We let out that one final exhale.
Our breath is life itself.
Why Breathing is Fundamental to Life
Everything in our body requires oxygen to function. Without it, the brain can suffer permanent damage in just 4 minutes.
But breathing is not just a necessity of life—it also has an array of positive effects on our body, mind, and spirit.
When we breathe deeply and mindfully, our breaths can create profound physiological effects that we’re only beginning to appreciate with the rise of yoga, meditation, and other breathwork practices in the last few decades.
Don’t Take Your Lungs for Granted
If breathing is so essential to life, why aren’t we paying more attention to the health of our lungs—the engine that powers our breath?
I never gave much thought to the health of my lungs—until one day, I got the news my lungs didn’t work right. An unexpected consequence—according to my doctors—from the bone marrow transplant I received years earlier to cure my blood cancer.
A lung function test showed my breathing abilities were now moderately restricted, and if the downward trend continues, I might eventually need a lung transplant.
I was devastated.
That was 3 years ago. Today, my lung function remains stable and I continue to do all the things I enjoy doing—like playing dodgeball, traveling, and hiking. I don’t feel limited by this condition in any way.
How am I able to do all this? By taking care of my lungs and making them a priority. If I didn’t realize the importance of my lungs as soon as I did, I can’t imagine where I’d be now.
So don’t take your lungs for granted. If you want to enjoy your life to the fullest for as long as possible, show your lungs the love they deserve. Don’t wait until you lose critical lung function that you’ll never get back (and we all lose them as we age, whether you have a lung disease or not). Start taking care of your lungs now. And today, I’m going to show you how.
In this post, I’m sharing with you 10 simple ways you can strengthen your lungs naturally.
How to Improve Your Lung Function Naturally? Follow These 10 Tips
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- Deep Breathing Exercises for Healthy Lungs
- Food for Healthy Lungs
- Natural Ways to Cleanse Your Lungs
- Final Thoughts on How to Take Care of Your Lungs
Deep Breathing Exercises for Healthy Lungs
Deep breathing, also known as diaphragmatic breathing or belly breathing, is a breathing technique where you move your belly in and out with each breath. When you inhale your belly expands and when you exhale it contracts. Pretty simple, right?
You’d be surprised how few of us actually breathe in this way. Most of us are guilty of “chest breathing” where we take shallow breaths using the upper chest and neck. Not good.
Why is deep breathing important to lung health? With this type of breathing, you engage your diaphragm muscles fully, allowing you to take in more air and over time, this helps improve your lung capacity—a key measure of good lung health.
I didn’t know how much fuller my breath could be until I read the book “Breathe” by Dr. Beliza Vranich.
Dr. Vranich’s techniques are all about how to train yourself to become intuitive at taking deeper breaths that go into the core of your body. This phenomenal book taught me how to breathe using my belly, diaphragm, and even the muscles in my back. It’s one of the books I would recommend to people of all ages and fitness levels because everyone can benefit from taking better breaths, whether you’re running marathons or sitting at a desk.
And now here are 4 deep breathing exercises to strengthen your lungs:
1. The “Japanese long-breath exercise”
The Japanese long-breath Exercise is most well-known for its reported weight-loss benefits. Besides its ab-tightening effects, this exercise provides an excellent workout for the lungs in a short amount of time.
Here’s how you do the Japanese Long Breath exercise:
- Stand with one foot in front of the other.
- Lift your arms above your head while inhaling deeply for 3 seconds, letting your belly expand.
- Lower your arms and exhale with your full force for 7 seconds, contracting your belly towards your spine.
- Repeat 10 times.
2. Pushing out
If you want to breathe more efficiently, you have to first remove any stale air trapped in your lungs. And “pushing out” is an effective exercise to help you do that.
Here’s how to do the pushing out exercise:
- Stand straight with your feet slightly apart.
- Keep your knees loose, and bend over at the waist until you can wrap your hands around your ankle (or as low as you can comfortably go). Exhale fully while you bend over.
- Slowly return to the upright position and inhale slowly and deeply as you lift your upper body.
- Reach your arms above your head and hold your breath for 15 seconds.
- Exhale and bring your arms down to your sides.
- Repeat the above steps 5 times.
3. The rib stretch
This exercise helps strengthen your breathing muscles and improve their flexibility, allowing you to take fuller and deeper breaths.
Here’s how to do the rib stretch:
- Stand tall and straight with your feet shoulder-width apart.
- Slowly inhale through your nose until your lungs and belly are filled with air. While you do this, slowly extend your arms to both sides until you feel a stretch in your arms and chest.
- Hold the breath for 20 seconds (or however long you’re comfortable with).
- Without letting out that breath of air, inhale more air through your nose until you can’t inhale further.
- Hold this breath for 10 more seconds before expelling all the air out of your lungs and belly, while relaxing your arms.
- Repeat 5 times.
4. Resistance Training for the Lungs
Have you ever tried resistance fitness training? What if I told you can strengthen your lungs, just like any other parts of your body, with resistance training? Yep, it’s a well-known secret used by many professional athletes and singers to improve lung performance.
It takes the principle of deep breathing and combines it with resistance to create a powerful effect on the lungs. I’ve been using resistance training for my lungs for the past few years and I believe it has helped me breathe more efficiently.
One easy way to do this is by blowing balloons. Blow into a balloon while lying down on your back with your legs and hips flexed at 90 degrees, and your feet touching the wall. Repeat this process for 10-15 minutes a day and you will notice a difference, especially when you exercise. The only downside is that you do need to lie down for 10-15 minutes a day to perform this exercise. If you’re on the go all the time, it could be a challenge.
For this reason, I choose to use a resistance training device for the lungs. It’s compact, easy-to-use, and has built-in settings that you can adjust according to your fitness level. With a small device like this, I can do resistance training for my lungs any time and anywhere. It takes less than 2 minutes to do a day and that’s perfect for me.
And if you would like to learn more breathing techniques and physical exercises that are beneficial for your lungs, read my post “10 Simple Lung Exercises I Do to Breathe Easier”.
Food for Healthy Lungs
A healthy diet goes a long way when it comes to keeping your lungs healthy. Besides drinking plenty of water to keep your lungs from getting dry and irritated, there are other improvements you can make to your diet to improve your lung health.
5. Repair lung damage with tomatoes and apples
I eat fresh tomatoes all the time and at least an apple a day. Not only are they delicious, they’re also beneficial for the lungs.
A study conducted by a prominent health institution showed that including more tomatoes and apples in your diet can repair lung damage and slow down the decline in lung function. The effect is even more noticeable in ex-smokers!
But in order to gain these benefits, you must eat fresh tomatoes and apples—the processed stuff like canned apples or store-bought spaghetti sauce won’t work. If you’re looking for ideas on how to incorporate these two ingredients into your cooking, check out this mouth-watering tomato apple salsa recipe.You can repair lung damage by eating these two common fruits!
6. Monk fruit: a powerful lung-cleansing tea
Monk fruit (known as “luo han guo” in Chinese) is a naturally sweet-tasting dried fruit used in Traditional Chinese Medicine to relieve throat and lung-related ailments. It has powerful anti-inflammatory properties that can help reduce irritation and soothe the lungs.
Its sweet taste also works wonders at curbing sugar cravings. For these reasons, monk fruit tea is my favourite drink, next to good old water!
Here’s how to make monk fruit tea:
- Break off small pieces of monk fruit (a small chunk of the skin plus 2 or 3 seeds are more than enough for a standard cup).
- Immerse the monk fruit pieces in hot water for 2-3 minutes.
- And drink!
Or you can boil a whole monk fruit in a large pot of water for 30 minutes for a more intense, sweeter flavour:
Here are a couple of quick tips to help you select the best dried monk fruit:
- If you gently drop the monk fruit on a table it should bounce back quickly, like a tennis ball.
- You can also lightly shake the monk fruit, you shouldn’t hear any rattle inside the fruit.
If you can’t find any monk fruit in your local Asian market to make a tea yourself, try a premade monk fruit (luo han guo) tea that you can just drop in hot water and drink.
7. Hydrate your lungs with white-coloured vegetables and fruits
According to the “five colours theory” of Chinese dietary therapy—a practice with deep roots in Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM)—foods that have a natural white colour are good for the lungs.
I make sure I include a lot of white-coloured natural foods in my diet. My favourites are white-coloured fruits and vegetables such as radishes, lotus seeds, and Asian pears.
These fruits and vegetables often contain a lot of water, and are considered to have a “cooling” effect on the body. From a TCM point of view, our lungs prefer to be cool and moist rather than dry and hot. And these white-coloured fruits and vegetables give our lungs exactly what they need. Their high water content and cooling properties will help keep your lungs moist and supple.
Natural Ways to Cleanse Your Lungs
There are many environmental pollutants in the air that can build up in your lungs and cause irritation over time. They get trapped in mucus and can lead to chest congestion and impaired lung function.
Luckily, there are natural ways to improve your lung health by enhancing your lungs’ natural self-cleaning process.
8. Controlled coughing
Controlled coughing is an effective technique for clearing excess mucus and expelling stale air from your lungs.
Here’s how to do this technique:
- Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart.
- Open your chest and put your hands on your waist.
- Look forward and lift your chin slightly up.
- Inhale deeply and force out the air quickly with a loud cough.
- Repeat these steps 3-5 times.
The best time to do this technique is in the morning right after you wake up. It will loosen any phlegm that has built up in your airways overnight and help your lungs get a fresh start for the day.
9. Cardio exercise
You probably heard cardio exercise is great for your heart, but did you know it’s also essential to the health of your lungs?
Cardio exercise makes your lungs work harder and this over time, will train your lungs to work more efficiently. It also increases the blood flow to your lungs, ensuring they get the vital nutrients they need to stay healthy.
So make exercise a part of your life.
And try to bring your exercises to the great outdoors, where trees are abundant. Trees are nature’s oxygen powerhouse and your lungs will get a huge oxygen boost from being around them.
One of my favourite cardio exercises is hiking in the mountains of Pacific Northwest Canada. Even just a short walk amongst the giant Douglas Fir trees always makes my chest feel lighter.
So if you’re lucky enough to live in a place where nature is abundant, get outside and exercise in nature any chance you get. But if you don’t live close to nature, try exercising in parks and gardens where there are more trees. Having some air-purifying indoor plants where you exercise is also a great option if you can’t find a good place to exercise outdoors.
Watch this video where I share my thoughts on the importance of cardio exercise for lung health, plus other simple ways to strengthen your lungs naturally:
Acupressure is a healing practice originating from Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM). It works by stimulating specific points in our body along what are called “meridians”—or channels within our body. If any point along these channels gets blocked, it results in discomfort, pain, or even illness. Acupressure helps remove that blockage and promote healing.
Acupressure is also one of the best natural ways to improve lung health. It’s safe, easy to use, and works quickly. You can even apply acupressure on yourself with your own hands.
Intrigued? Let me show you how you can use acupressure to improve your lung health right now!
a) “Ying Xiang” or “Welcome Fragrance” point (LI 20):
The yin xiang acupressure point helps clear nasal blockages and ease breathing. It’s located on both sides of your nose, nestled in the groove where your laugh lines connect to your nose. Firmly press this point with your pinkie and massage in a circular motion for 5 minutes a day for enhanced abilities to smell and breathe.
b) “Yu ji” or “Fish Border” point (LU 10):
The yu ji acupressure point provides relief for sore throat and coughs. It’s also one of the most important points in the body for nourishing the lungs. This point is located on the outer side of your thumb, halfway between the base of your thumb and your wrist. It’s in the groove where the fleshy part of your palm meets the bone that runs from your thumb to your wrist. Press this point with the top of your thumb, applying even pressure for 30 seconds and release. Repeat this for 5 minutes a day.
Final Thoughts on How to Strengthen Your Lungs Naturally
Hopefully, this post has given you some good ideas on how you can take care of your lungs. But remember, to keep your lungs in their best shape, you have to protect them in the first place from things that can damage them—like cigarette smoke, harsh chemical fumes, and dust and mold. And try your best to prevent getting the cold and flu, or at least minimize the number of times you get them each year.
Last but not least, as a reminder, if you have a lung condition, please consult your physician before you implement any strategies from this post.
Think you’re going to give any of these tips a try? Let me know which one interests you the most in the comment below!