If someone said the words “healthy living” to you right now, what would you think of?

Most of us would probably immediately think about our diets and how they affect our weight, our heart’s health or risk of developing diabetes. We might also think about how exercising keeps our waistlines thin and our hearts strong and healthy. But how soon would you think about tips for a healthy respiratory system?

No one can deny just how vital this organ system really is. Composed of our airways, lungs, and the muscles and blood vessels connected to them, the respiratory system carries oxygen throughout our body and makes everything we do possible. So when something goes wrong with our respiratory systems, our entire body suffers because of it.

Fortunately, there’s a lot that we can do to keep this vital organ system healthy:

1. Add some greenery to your home. And not fake greenery – real plants. Adding plants to our homes increases the oxygen and air quality in our living areas thanks to plants’ natural abilities to remove certain toxins from the air. This is especially important during the winter months, when we spend most of our time indoors because of the weather outside.

2. Get fit and stay active. Yep, exercise is good for your lungs, too! Exercise improves circulation and strengthens our muscles – two important things that healthy lungs need to do their job. That’s why exercising helps make them more efficient.

3. Eat well. A healthy diet is as good for your lungs as it is for any other part of your body. In fact, according to the University of Maryland Medical Center, low levels of certain nutrients have been linked to a number of lung diseases. Eating foods rich in vitamins A,C and E and the minerals zinc, potassium, selenium, and magnesium will all help keep your respiratory health nice and high.

4. Drink lots of water. You’ve heard this before, too: drink lots of water to keep yourself healthy. Staying hydrated plays a role in your lung’s health as well: drinking water helps to thin the mucus secretions that naturally accumulate in your lungs each day, which then allows you to breathe more easily.

5. Wash your hands. It sounds simple and silly, but washing your hands (actually washing, not just rinsing!) and practicing good hygiene in general is very good for your lungs, especially during flu season. Doing this will help keep germs, viruses and bacteria that can severely hurt your lungs – including the ones that cause colds, the flu and pneumonia – from getting into your body. And to efficiently keep those harmful microbes from making their way into your respiratory system, be sure to sanitize your cell phones and telephone headsets as well!

6. Don’t smoke or use tobacco products.  You’ve heard it a million times before: smoking, chewing tobacco and similar products are not good for your lungs, or your health overall. There’s a reason every health professional and organization says this over and over again: avoiding or quitting a smoking habit is the #1 most effective way to keep your respiratory system strong and healthy.

Our Genesis Medical staff completely understands just how hard it can be to kick a smoking or tobacco habit once you’ve started, though – and that’s why we’re here to help. You’re always welcome to work with your doctor on developing a plan to help you quit smoking. WedMD, the CDC, Quit Solutions and many other websites can also help you with tips on how to ditch this unhealthy habit.

Even if you don’t smoke, it’s still important to take care of your lungs; problems with the lungs can affect anyone and are one of the most common health issues in the world. Never hesitate to ask our doctors about specific exercise routines, supplements, or other things that can help keep your lungs strong and healthy. And most importantly: if you experience persistent coughing, shortness of breath, fatigue, or other lung and breathing related issues, we encourage you to call our offices so we can take a look at you and make sure nothing serious is developing. When it comes to our lungs, taking care of yourself and having a potential issue looked at sooner rather than later is always the best thing you can do!

*Image courtesy of Pixabay.org