If you’ve smoked for many years, chances are you have cigarette lung damage that won’t vanish immediately after you quit. The good news is time and eating the right foods can help to repair lung damage caused by smoking. Here’s how to eat to improve the health of your lungs.
You finally quit smoking. Congratulations! For some people, this is one of their most challenging achievements of their life. Once smoking is stopped, the lungs will slowly begin the process of repair, but it can take years to undo the harmful effects of cigarette smoking. Keep in mind that it took time to get cigarette lung damage in the first place and the changes can’t be reversed overnight.
The reality is that even after you quit smoking, your risk of lung cancer will never be as low as someone who never smoked; although ten years down the road, your risk of lung cancer will be substantially reduced. Because your lung cancer risk will always be higher than that of a non-smoker, it’s important to do everything you can from a dietary standpoint to reduce the lung damage caused by smoking. Fortunately, human and animal studies show that diet can make a difference when it comes to repairing cigarette lung damage. What are some dietary changes you can make to improve the health of your lungs?
Eat More Tomato Sauce
Tomato sauce and other processed tomato products are a good source of lycopenes. Lycopenes are nutrients in the carotenoid family that hold some promise for lung cancer prevention. One study showed that mice given tomato lycopenes had a lower risk of developing lung tumors. Lycopenes are abundant in tomatoes that have been cooked with much lower levels found in raw tomatoes. Tomato juice, tomato sauce, and ketchup are good sources. Try to fit more of these lycopene-rich foods into your diet.
Drink Green Tea
Green tea is a good source of polyphenols – natural chemicals that have antioxidant properties. A recent study showed that mice exposed to cigarette smoke and subsequently given green tea extract developed less lung damage than those exposed to cigarettes without the benefit of green tea. Although studies haven’t been conducted on green tea and lung damage in humans, it would make sense that it could have benefits in humans as well. To get these benefits, you would probably need to drink five cups or more a day or take a green tea extract.
Damage Eat More Vegetables
A Chinese study showed that smokers and non-smokers who ate the highest quantities of vegetables lowered their risk of lung cancer by sixty percent compared to those who ate the least. Fruits also reduced the risk, but not as dramatically as vegetables did. To repair lung damage caused by smoking, find more ways to add vegetables to your diet – particularly cruciferous vegetables such as broccoli and cabbage.
Eating more of these healthy foods and limiting processed, packaged foods may be a simple way to reduce the harmful effects of cigarette lung damage. You’ve taken the most important step by kicking the habit. The diet part should be a cinch!