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Take A Deep Breath

By Greg Samples


Originally published in Everything Knoxville in October, 2014

The arrival of fall brings with it much apprehension for those with chronic lung problems or allergies. Pollen can be just as bothersome in the fall as in the spring for those with allergies, but breathing issues in the fall can be difficult and even dangerous for people with persistent, long-standing lung complications.

Traditionally, autumn is known as the time of year when the lungs are predominant. Fall is the time when underlying lung conditions are most likely to be revealed by our experience of symptoms, but it is also the time when nourishing and healing of the lungs can be most effective.

There is an optimum moisture level for the lungs to function at their best. Excessive congestion and phlegm of course are associated with various types of infections, but often the dryness of the fall air can be an impairment as well. We can help mitigate this dryness by avoiding hard, dry baked goods. Flour products in general tend to have a drying effect on the body, but especially the lungs. Unprocessed whole grains on the other hand, especially brown rice, are not only nourishing for the lungs but can be prepared with liberal amounts of water that is absorbed into the grain, thereby avoiding the drying effect. Vegetables that nourish the lungs advantageously include daikon radish, cauliflower, turnips, and cucumber. Perhaps the most beneficial food for the lungs is lotus root, an aquatic plant which can be delicious in soups, stews, and side dishes.

One would think that something as fundamental as breathing would be done correctly automatically. Unfortunately, many people have developed poor breathing habits. To determine if you are breathing deeply and fully, place the palm of your hand on your diaphragm, the muscle just below your rib cage and above your abdomen. As you inhale, you should feel your diaphragm expand outward. As you exhale, you can feel your diaphragm move inward as it forces the air out of your lungs. If you experience just the opposite, you can train yourself to do it correctly by practice.

Fully oxygenating our blood through the lungs is an important aspect to virtually every health concern anyone might have. Care for the lungs, proper breathing technique, and a diet rich in antioxidants can go a long way toward protecting your long term health. So take a deep breath, pause, and reflect on how you treat your lungs.

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