Pneumonia refers to inflammation of the lungs, caused by a bacterial or viral infection, exposure to fungi, parasites, foreign chemicals or physical damage to lung tissue. Symptoms include cough, chest pains, fever and breathing difficulties.
Louis Yap, a dietitian at Parkway East Hospital, shares five things to eat to boost your lung health and reduce your susceptibility to inflammation.
Water helps to flush out waste products and moisten the tissues along your respiratory tract. This helps your lungs and immune system to filter and get rid of foreign particles. Louis recommends drinking six to eight glasses of water per day.
2 Citrus fruits
Eat two servings of these types of fruit daily: oranges, berries, kiwi fruit and papaya. Packed full of vitamin C, these fruits boost your immune system and help to speed up recovery. They also contain antioxidants that fight against environmental damage caused by exposure to foreign particles.
“Eating fresh fruit is more effective than drinking juices,” says Louis. “This is because once the fruit is juiced or blended, it is usually stored for some time and exposed to the environment, so some of the vitamin C content will be lost.”
3 Leafy green vegetables
Not only are they loaded with vitamins and minerals, leafy veggies also contain phytochemicals and vitamin E. “Phytochemicals in fruit and vegetables can counter oxidative damage from exposure to foreign particles,” says Louis. “Vitamin E helps to boost immunity and has antioxidant effects.”
Vitamin E is also present in other food sources, like vegetable oils, nuts, seeds, wheat germ, so make sure to include these in your diet, too. Eat two servings of leafy greens every day.
4 Oily fish
Fish like salmon that are rich in omega-3 fatty acids are great for your lungs. “Many studies have shown that omega-3 fat has anti-inflammatory properties,” Louis says. This will prevent your lung tissues from getting aggravated by harmful foreign particles that enter your body. Including fish twice a week.
“Recently, it’s been found that there are many benefits to consuming probiotics, which include boosting your immunity,” explains Louis. “Probiotics increase the number of good bacteria in your gut. These good bacteria produce fatty acids such as butyrate that can enhance your immune system.”
You can get probiotics in concentrated probiotic drinks like Yakult and also dairy products such as milk and yogurt. Choose low-fat or non-fat varieties.
But do make sure to check with your doctor before you consume probiotics, warns Louis. Those who have a compromised immune system or specific dietary restrictions that require limited microbial exposure should avoid consuming probiotics.