10. Take your medicine and listen to your doctor if you have asthma. There’s some pretty good evidence that people with asthma eventually develop chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, or COPD, a lung disease that strikes people 65 and older. There’s also evidence that keeping your asthma under control with medication and lifestyle changes can prevent the disease from developing.
11. Make spaghetti sauce tonight, tomato and basil salad tomorrow night, and roasted tomatoes over the weekend. British researchers found that people who ate tomatoes three times a week had improved lung function and experienced less wheeziness and fewer asthma-like symptoms.
12. Look on the bright side. So the stock market is down; at least the bond market is up. When Harvard researchers followed 670 men with an average age of 63 years for eight years, they found those who were more optimistic had much better lung function and a slower rate of lung function decline than the pessimists in the bunch.
13. Get at least seven servings of fruits and vegetables a day. A 1998 study found that high amounts of antioxidants found in such foods, including vitamin C, vitamin E, selenium, and beta-carotene, meant better lung function — even in smokers!
14. Have a glass of wine tonight. Drinking wine, particularly white wine, both in the recent past and over your lifetime, seems to help your lungs. It has to be wine, though. Researchers found no such correlation when they looked at the effects of other forms of alcohol. Researchers aren’t certain why, but suspect it may be due to high levels of antioxidants in wine that protect cells from the damage from smoke and air pollution.
15. Brush your teeth twice a day and floss after every meal. Seems the state of your gums makes a difference when it comes to your lungs. Researchers at the State University of New York in Buffalo found patients with periodontal, or gum, disease were 1 1/2 times more likely to also have COPD. Plus, the worse the gum disease, the worse the lung function, suggesting a direct correlation between the two.
16. Say no to dessert. There’s a direct link between what you weigh and the health of your lungs. Having extra weight makes your respiratory muscles work harder and less efficiently, researchers found in a 2004 study. This, in turn results in shortness of breath, which makes it hard to exercise, which makes it hard to lose the weight.
17. In hot, dry, or very cold weather, or in dusty or polluted air, breathe in through your nose and out through your mouth. Our nasal passages are designed to filter the air and regulate its temperature and humidity. If you breathe in through your mouth, everything — dust, coldness, etc. — goes straight on into the lungs.
18. Take it easy when pollution or ozone levels are in the red zone. The more you exert yourself, the more you have to breathe through your mouth to take in larger volumes of air. This, in turn, means less filtering of the air during some very dangerous air quality times.