Smorgasbord Health – The Lungs – Foods that support the respiratory system

I hope that I have already established over the last three here in the health posts that eating a natural, unprocessed diet at least 80% of the time is essential to your health. As is reducing the refined sugars which impact the ability of your immune system, to clear the body of toxins, and to provide an effective defence system.

In addition there are certain nutrients that are of specific benefit to the lungs and if you have a weakness in this area, such as repeated bronchitis  or other chest infections, you should consider including more of the particular foods in your diet on a regular basis.

I advise that you obtain these nutrients from food sources as this is the most effective way for the body to process and use. Taking supplements is not something to contemplate lightly. Whilst it might seem cost effective to respond to the cheap adverts in the papers it can be a false economy with much of the tablet passing straight through you without any impact on your nutritional health. However, during an illness or when you are recovering, you might consider taking a high quality supplement under the guidance of a qualified nutrititional advisor or pharmacist.

The old saying “Trust your gut” is very appropriate in relation to our immune system and our general health. By eating a balanced and varied diet you will be supporting the billions of flora in your gut that are essential for the efficient digestion and processing of the food that you eat. Without the right balance of bacteria you would not be able to process and harness the energy from carbohydrates or the nutritional benefits of fats. Your healthy diet of vegetables and fruit would be a waste of time without the right elements to process and extract the vitamins and minerals to deliver to the body.

Back to the 80/20% rule.. If 80% of your diet is natural, unprocessed foods your gut bacteria will have plenty to work with. Here are some of the specific nutrients that support your respiratory system.. Provided you have nurtured the processing plant of bacteria in your gut!


Vitamin A, which is a wonderful antioxidant, has a specific role in the lungs. It prevents damage to the small hairs (Cilia) inside the bronchial tubes that help move mucous and trapped toxins out of the lungs. Vitamin A is converted by the body into a number of other substances that are crucial in the efficiency of our immune systems by stimulating the activity of the killer cells, macrophages and other blood cells.


Vitamin A is a fat-soluble vitamin mainly found in Liver, Fish Liver oils, Butter, Cheese, Free Range Eggs, Oily Fish. Beta-carotene is converted from plant sources by the body into Vitamin A and is found in Carrots, Green leafy vegetables, Orange and Red coloured Vegetables. Particularly apricots, asparagus, broccoli, butter, cantaloupe melon, carrots, cashews, cheese, nectarines, peaches, peppers and spinach.


There is some evidence to suggest that Vitamin C can help prevent oxidative damage to tissues in the lungs and it is therefore another reason to enjoy a diet that is rich in fresh fruit and vegetables. If you are still a smoker or have recently given up it is a good idea to also take a Vitamin C supplement of at least 1,000 mg per day to help your lungs recover more effectively. Vitamin C will also boost your immune system and help your body fight off infections. Tomato and Onion soup is a wonderful expectorant, as well as being packed with other nutrients to support you while you recover.

brussel sprouts

Vitamin C is water soluble and found in all fruit and vegetables with best sources being Blackcurrants, broccoli, Brussel sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower, cherries, grapefruits, guavas, kiwi fruit, lemons, parsley, peppers, rose hips, potatoes, tomatoes and watercress.

nuts and seeds

Vitamin E, which is another powerful antioxidant, may also help relieve breathing problems particularly for emphysema sufferers and can be taken from food sources and also in supplement form but under the supervision of a health professional.


Vitamin E is fat soluble and found in nuts such as almonds and walnuts, sunflower seeds and their oil, whole grains like maize, egg yolks and leafy green vegetables like spinach. Also found in apples, bananas, broccoli, brown rice, carrots, lamb’s liver, onions, Sunflower oil, oily fish and shellfish.


Quercitin is an antioxidant flavonoid, which inhibits the activity of cells that release histamine from mast cells. It works very well with Vitamin C and might help relieve the symptoms of allergic asthma. It is also an anti-inflammatory, which should help relieve some of the symptoms associated with lung problems. Eating foods that contain Quercitin every day may help prevent infection in the first place but certainly they should be included any diet during the first few days and during recovery.

green tea

Quercitin is found in apples, onions, garlic, green tea, green leafy vegetables and beans.

pumpkin seeds 2

Zinc, in conjunction with Vitamin C, is a powerful combination that can assist the normal healing processes in the body. I take both as supplements if I feel I am about to come down with an infection and with the inclusion of lots of citrus fruit in my diet I can usually shake off a cold before it gets a chance to take hold. Zinc helps repair damage in the body and for men approaching middle age it may help prevent an enlarged prostate or possibly other health problems. Certainly, eating a handful of pumpkin seeds which are rich in other nutrients too will do more good than harm for your entire body.


The best food sources for Zinc are seafood (particularly oysters), pumpkinseeds, sesame seeds, wheat germ, egg yolks, black-eyed peas and tofu.

Thanks for dropping by and as always would love your feedback.  Sally