12 foods to keep your lungs strong as you age

You hear a lot about how aging affects your arteries and your heart… it makes them stiff, narrow and less pliable. But what about your lungs?

The aging process takes a toll on this vital organ too… even if you’re not a smoker.

As you get older, your lung muscle gets weaker, you have less lung capacity and your lungs become more susceptible to infections like pneumonia. That means breathing’s not always easy in your older years, especially with the threat of flu — or coronavirus, now that we know we may face it during “flu season” year after year.

How can you tell if your lungs are weakening?

Test your grip strength…

In a study of 1,773 women, handgrip strength was linked to lung capacity — a measure of how well your respiratory system functions. The researchers concluded that testing older adults’ handgrip strength could be a good way to test their potential for impaired lung health.

But don’t worry. You don’t have to become breathless in your older years. There’s a simple step you can take to make sure your lungs stay healthy so you can better fight off whatever comes your way…

Peak Organic Superfruits

Blend of anthocyanin-rich, organic fermented fruits — including Aronia, Acia, Blueberry, Pomegranate and Plum — that can help clobber insulin resistance, and keep you healthy. MORE⟩⟩

Eat more flavonoids for healthy lungs

A recent study from researchers at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health found that flavonoids keep your lungs healthy as you age.

Flavonoids are a type of antioxidant that provides fruits and vegetables with their vibrant color. They’re also known for fending off oxidative stress caused by aging and environmental toxins.

In the study, researchers looked at data from 463 people who were an average age of 44. They were especially interested in how much anthocyanins (a type of flavonoid) these people ate in their diet. They also examined the results of a lung function test every person took at the beginning and at the end of the ten-year study period.

Here’s what they found…

People who ate more anthocyanins had better lung function. In fact, people who ate the most anthocyanins were far better off than people who ate the least anthocyanins in a few different ways:

  • They maintained the amount of air they could forcefully exhale in one second better.
  • They maintained the amount of air they could exhale after taking a deep breath better.

Typically, these are measures of lung function that gradually decline with age. So, it was pretty impressive that eating more antioxidants helped these people hang on to their youthful lung function.

Researchers also looked at how eating anthocyanins affected lung function in smokers, former smokers, and non-smokers. They found that anthocyanins helped former smokers and non-smokers maintain healthy lung function, but didn’t do the trick for smokers. If you’re a smoker, there’s still only one way to help your lungs… quit.

Peak Organic Superfruits

Blend of anthocyanin-rich, organic fermented fruits — including Aronia, Acia, Blueberry, Pomegranate and Plum — that can help clobber insulin resistance, and keep you healthy. MORE⟩⟩

Finding flavonoids

So, now that you know these amazing antioxidants called anthocyanins can keep you breathing free and easy well into old age, you’re probably wondering where you can get your hands on some.

The good news is anthocyanins are everywhere. Flavonoids are in a bunch of foods you’re probably already eating, and a bunch of others you can add to the menu right now if you want to.

Here are a few foods that contain plenty of these lung-protecting antioxidants:

  1. Blueberries
  2. Pomegranates
  3. Purple sweet potato
  4. Black raspberries
  5. Black currants
  6. Blackberries
  7. Cherries
  8. Red cabbage
  9. Cranberries
  10. Black plums
  11. Red radish
  12. Red raspberries

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Sources:

  1. The link between handgrip strength and healthy lungs in older women — American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS)
  2. M. Lowery, et al. “The aging lung.” — Clinical Interventions in Aging. 2013; 8: 1489–1496.
  3. What Are Flavonoids Good for? — San Francisco Chronicle SF Gate. Retrieved May 26, 2018.
  4. What are anthocyanins and why are purple foods so healthy? — BBC Retrieved May 26, 2018.
  5. Wu, et al. “Concentrations of Anthocyanins in Common Foods in the United States and Estimation of Normal Consumption.” — Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry. 2006, 54, 4069−4075.

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Jenny Smiechowski

By Jenny Smiechowski

Jenny Smiechowski is a Chicago-based freelance writer who specializes in health, nutrition and the environment. Her work has appeared in online and print publications like Chicagoland Gardening magazine, Organic Lifestyle Magazine, BetterLife Magazine, TheFix.com, Hybridcars.com and Seedstock.com.