The Best Foods for Healthy Lungs
- Anthocyanins Protect Lung Health
Flavonoids are a group of polyphenols, phytonutrients found in most fruits and vegetables.
There are more than 6,000 unique flavonoids, but as a group, they’re most well-known for their antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects and have been found to lower the risk of many chronic conditions rooted in inflammation.
Anthocyanins, specifically found in red-blue plant pigments that give berries and other foods their red, blue and purple color have been shown to:
|Improve blood sugar control||Normalize blood pressure and enhance capillary strength|
|Lower oxidative stress and inflammation||Inhibit platelet formation|
|Prevent buildup of arterial plaque||Increase NAD+ level|
Previous animal studies have shown anthocyanins reduce the production of mucus and inflammatory secretions in animals with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.
Some of the latest research suggests the plant compound can also help slow the gradual decline in lung health associated with aging.
The study analyzed data from 463 British and Norwegian adults who participated in the 2nd and 3rd European Community Respiratory Health Surveys.
The average age was 44.
The data included dietary information and a spirometry test, which measures the volume of air you can forcefully exhale in 1 sec (FEV1), the total volume of air you can exhale after taking a deep breath (FVC) and the ratio of the 2 (FEV1/FVC).
According to lead author Vanessa Garcia Larsen, PhD, assistant professor in the Human Nutrition Division of the Department of International Health at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, lung function tends to peak around the age of 30, after which it starts to decline.
The rate of speed of lung decline varies depending on factors such as smoking, exercise level, exposure to pollutants and the presence of other medical conditions.
Diet also plays a significant role in healthy lung functions
Processed foods in general, and processed meats in particular, have previously been linked to a more rapid decline in lung function.
Here, those in the highest quartile of anthocyanin intake, compared to those in the lowest quartile of intake, had a significantly reduced decline in all 3 lung function measurements.
In the highest quartile of anthocyanin intake, FEV1 declined at an average rate of -9.8 milliliters per year (mL/yr) compared to -18.9 mL/yr for those in the bottom quartile of anthocyanin intake. FVC declined at a rate of -9.8 mL/yr compared to -22.2 mL/yr.
On average, the annual decline of FEV1/FVC among those consuming the highest amounts of anthocyanins was just -0.02 per year.
No association between anthocyanin intake and lung function was found among smokers, however.
According to Dr. Garcia-Larsen: “Our study suggests that the general population could benefit from consuming more fruits rich in these flavonoids like berries, particularly those who have given up smoking or have never smoked. For smokers, quitting remains the best thing they can do to protect their health.”
Aside from protecting one’s lung function with age, polyphenols, the plant compounds that give fruits, vegetables and berries their vibrant colors have numerous other health benefits as well.
This includes lowering one’s risk of “middle-age spread,” the weight gain around the midsection that is so common with age.
In a study, which included more than 124,000 people, those with the highest flavonoid intake had the least weight gain with age.
Certain types of flavonoids were more effective for weight maintenance than others, particularly after the researchers accounted for fiber intake. Anthocyanins, proanthocyanidins and total flavonoid polymers, found in tea and apples, showed the most significant effect after adjusting for fiber.
Overall, for each standard deviation above average in terms of flavonoid consumption, the study participants gained 1/10th to 3/5ths of a pound less over 4years. This might not sound striking, but this is just 1 of many benefits
The health effects of flavonoids and other polyphenols are likely part of why a Mediterranean Diet helps protect against the ravages of air pollution.
Data from nearly 550,000 individuals followed for 17 years was collected by researchers at the NYU School of Medicine.
Their aim was to assess how closely the diet of the participants mirrored the Mediterranean Diet, which is high in antioxidants and healthy fats, and how this eating pattern influenced the effect of air pollution and other toxic exposures.
The results were recently presented at the American Thoracic Society’s international conference in San Diego.
As reported by Time Magazine: “Death from all causes increased by 5% for every 10 parts per billion increase in long-term average nitrous oxide exposure among people who least adhered to the eating pattern, compared to only 2% among people who most followed the diet.
Cardiovascular disease deaths increased 17% for every 10 micrograms per cubic meter increase in long-term average particulate matter exposure among the people who did not closely follow the diet, compared to 5% among the people who did. Similar patterns were seen for heart attack deaths.”
Our health is under siege from every direction, so…
Eat healthy, Be healthy, Live lively