Top 7 Foods for Respiratory Health


Being able to breathe easily is something we often take for granted because it's usually automatic—that is, until a fever, cold or flu hits!

Then there are certain people who live with or are susceptible to respiratory conditions every day, and that’s where nature comes in.

Mother nature in her infinite wisdom offers a range of wholefoods that specifically target the health of the respiratory system and to help protect it from airborne disease. 

Whether flu season is just around the corner, or you're already dealing with asthma, bronchitis or some other respiratory complaint, these eight foods are designed to support healthy lungs and breathing function.

They say an apple a day keeps the doctor away...

And these eight respiratory superfoods help clear the airways and keep the pathogens at bay!

1. Apples

Speaking of apples, they’re not only one of the best foods for respiratory health, but one of the best foods at all. They protect and heal each and every body system and organ because they contain powerful pectins that bind and strip heavy metals and congestion from the body.

In fact, apples are so powerful that eating them daily could even help repair the lungs of past smokers and can slow down the lung’s natural ageing process.

To take full advantage of the nutritional components in apples, it’s important to include the skins which contains boat loads of micro-nutrients and fibres.  The skins are also most exposed to the outside world, we recommend that your source organic or locally grown, spray-free Apples wherever you can.  Alternatively, if you can only get your hands on conventional produce, rinse your apples first in mix of 1 part Apple Cider Vinegar to 10 parts water to remove the pesticide residues.

2. Artichoke

Since ancient times, the artichoke has been used for lung conditions and to “scrub” the lungs clean. The artichoke is very high in fibre, potassium, calcium, iron, phosphorus and other trace elements that are important for a balanced system. The artichoke is one of the best foods for respiratory health because it’s able to improve poor lung and liver function (which helps to lower the blood cholesterol), arteriosclerosis, gout, supports the treatment of hepatitis and improves the gall secretions. 

It can also slightly lower the blood sugar, improve the appetite and digestion, is diuretic and may help some migraine conditions (most especially those caused by toxins in the blood). As it helps the body rid itself of excess water and moves toxins it also has the added side effect of an improved skin luminosity. 

Learn more in Asthma: Symptoms, Causes & Natural Remedies

3. Honey

There’s almost nothing in the world like honey, especially when it comes to the best foods for respiratory health. Honey is a protective food that’s antiviral, anti-fungal, and antibacterial all in one. Honey works by targeting the lungs first before the rest of the body, so it’s ideal for a cough to soothe the throat quickly and effectively. 

Honey also helps prevent cancer and is able to shrink tumours. Used for thousands of years as both a food and medicine, honey is potent but deliciously sweet and is a wonderful substitute for sugars and artificial sweeteners. Enjoy a little honey in your morning coffee, lunchtime yogurt or afternoon cup of green tea for a sweet taste and a medicinal boost.

 Learn more in Why Raw Honey is Beneficial to a Healthy Diet. 

4. Onions

Not only delicious and a cooking staple, onions are also one of the best foods for respiratory health. Several re-missive inflammatory agents in onions make them helpful in reducing the severity of symptoms associated with inflammatory conditions such as the pain and swelling of osteo and rheumatoid arthritis, the allergic inflammatory response of asthma, and the respiratory congestion associated with the common cold. 

Both onions and garlic contain compounds that inhibit lipoxygenase and cyclooxygenase (the enzymes that generate inflammatory prostaglandins and thromboxanes), which significantly reduce inflammation. Onions' inflammatory effects are due not only to their vitamin C and quercetin, but to other active components called isothiocyanates. These compounds work synergistically to bring relief from inflammation. In addition, quercetin and other flavonoids found in onions work with vitamin C to help remove harmful bacteria, making onions an especially good addition to soups and stews during cold and flu season.

5. Peppermint Essential Oil

Peppermint isn’t just good for respiratory health because it smells lovely; peppermint contains the substance rosmarinic acid, which has several actions that are beneficial in asthma.

In addition to its antioxidant abilities to neutralise free radicals, rosmarinic acid has been shown to block the production of pro-inflammatory chemicals, such as leukotrienes. It also encourages cells to make substances called prostacyclins that keep the airways open for easy breathing. Extracts of peppermint have also been shown to help relieve the nasal symptoms of allergic rhinitis (colds related to allergy). 

Tip: if you’re feeling under the weather or stuffy, try a hot cup of peppermint tea with some honey.

Learn more in Top Essential Oils for Immunity & Seasonal Allergies.

6. Potatoes

Potatoes often get a bad reputation for being heavy in carbohydrates, but these nutritional powerhouses couldn’t be better for you. Potatoes have flavonoids with protective activity against cardiovascular disease, but especially respiratory problems and certain cancers. The starch in potatoes also act as little sponges that absorb toxins and waste in the body for removal. 

Potatoes have high levels of vitamin C, folic acid, quercetin and kukoamines. These last compounds, which have blood pressure lowering potential, have only been found in one other plant, Lycium chinense (a.k.a., wolfberry/gogi berry). The phytochemical profile of potatoes show that it’s time to shed their starch-only image; baked, steamed, healthy sautéed or fixed in other ways, it’s clear that potatoes deserve a place in your healthy way of eating. 

7. Radishes

Radishes often get overlooked as a vegetable, but they’re one of the best foods for respiratory health. Radishes assist in respiratory disorders, bronchitis and asthma. The radish is a decongestant, which means it relieves congestion of the respiratory system including nose, throat, wind-pipe and lungs caused by everything from cold to infection, allergies and more.

The radish is also a good disinfectant and rich in vitamins, which protect the respiratory system from infections. Aside from targeting the lungs, it’s worth mentioning all the other benefits of radishes: it’s a good appetiser, freshens the mouth and breathe, laxative, regulates the metabolism, improves blood circulation, is a good treatment for headache, acidity, constipation, nausea, obesity, sore throat, whooping cough, gastric problems, gallbladder stones, dyspepsia and more.

Learn more in 6 Natural Remedies for Healing Bronchitis. 

Protecting your respiratory system even if it’s completely healthy is key because it manages your breathing, something so important and key to your very existence on Earth. These top eight best foods for respiratory health are common, everyday foods that are easy to include in a plant-based diet every single day. 

Tolman Self Care.


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