Chronic lung diseases
Chronic lung disease or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) is the collective name for a group of lung diseases including bronchitis, emphysema and chronic obstructive airways disease. People with COPD have difficulties breathing due to the narrowing of their airways and the condition generally gets worse over time.
People who eat a healthy diet based on wholegrains, fruit and vegetables, nuts and seeds, pulses and low in red and processed meats, refined grains and sugary drinks have a much lower risk of developing COPD. And in people who already have COPD, the condition is much more manageable if they adopt a plant-based diet with high intake of fruit and vitamin E-rich foods (nuts and seeds, green leafy vegetables, avocados etc.).
It may be the fibre in this type of diet (especially in the wholegrains and fruits) that helps. Fibre is a natural anti-inflammatory and can be used to reduce inflammation, which is a feature of COPD.
It may be the antioxidants (such as vitamin A, vitamin C, vitamin E, flavonoids and selenium) found in a healthy vegan diet. Antioxidants are the good guys battling to preserve your health. They go around the body mopping up free radicals which are chemicals naturally produced in the body and known to cause damage and disease. Low levels of antioxidants in the blood are a sign of poor immunity and disease. So a good supply of antioxidants is crucial for health.
Plant foods are the best source of antioxidants. Eat at least five portions of fruit and vegetables every day, pulses (peas, beans and lentils), wholegrain foods such as brown rice, oats, wholemeal bread and wholemeal pasta, nuts and seeds. Think of a great big fresh salad with green leafy vegetables, tomatoes, sprouted seeds, mango and avocado as sending the cavalry in!
A vegan diet rich in antioxidants and fibre can have a beneficial effect on lung health. Find out what you do need to eat each day here.
Read more about chronic lung diseases.