Fruits and vegetables improve lung function: Just one extra serving every day can decrease your risk of disease by 24%
02/20/2018 // Jhoanna Robinson // Views

American physician, author, and speaker on public health issues Dr. Michael Heschel Greger, who wrote the book How Not to Die in 2016, is saying that a plant-based diet can safeguard you and your family against lung disease.

According to Dr. Greger, data going back 50 years revealed that a high intake of fruits and vegetables is linked with proper lung function. In fact, one extra serving of fruit each day is equivalent to a 24 percent less chance of death from chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).

Also, Dr. Greger said that a 2012 study found out that elderly volunteers who consumed five or more servings of fruits and vegetables every day had an 82 percent higher antibody response to a pneumonia vaccine as compared to those who ate two or fewer servings a day.

Furthermore, a study of over 100,000 adults in India showed that those who ate meat daily, or even occasionally, are more prone to suffer from asthma than those who did not touch meat and eggs.

The rationale behind diets affecting airway inflammation may lie within the thin coating of fluid that comprises the interface between your respiratory tract lining and the outside air.

If you are a smoker, Dr. Greger advises quitting now. “The most important step you can take is to stop. Now. Please. The benefits of quitting are immediate because the human body possesses a miraculous ability to heal itself as long as we don't keep reinjuring it.

Just 20 minutes after quitting, your heart rate and blood pressure drop. Within weeks your blood circulation and lung function improve, and within months, the sweeper cells that help clean the lungs, remove mucus, and reduce the risk of infection start to regrow,” Dr. Greger said.


Simple dietary changes can also help alleviate the damage brought about by the carcinogens in tobacco smoke, Dr. Greger said.

A recent study found out that among a group of long-time smokers, those who ate 25 times more broccoli than average (just a single stalk a day), suffered 41 percent fewer DNA mutations in their bloodstreams over 10 days.

Broccoli, the wonder vegetable

Broccoli is said to hinder DNA damage and the spread of metastatic cancer. It can also double the production of enzymes that heal the liver, eliminate breast cancer stem cells, and decrease the risk of prostate cancer progression. (Related: Broccoli Sprouts: Nature's Most Powerful Cancer-Fighting Food)

This enzyme is called sulforaphane, which also keeps your brain and eyesight healthy, lessens nasal allergy inflammation, and alleviates symptoms of type-2 diabetes.

"What about frozen broccoli? Sadly, commercially-produced frozen broccoli lacks the ability to form sulforaphane, as the vegetables are flash-cooked before they are frozen," Dr. Greger said.

Sulforaphane is also contained in mustard powder. Sprinkle it over frozen and then flash-cooked broccoli. This way, you can get the benefits of sulforaphane even though the broccoli that you are about to consume is not fresh.

Other ways to improve lung function

Increase your intake of beta-carotene to improve your lung function. Beta-carotene is a carotenoid that is found in many fruits and vegetables. It is converted to vitamin A, which is essential for lung health. Fruits and vegetables that are good sources of carotenoids are sweet potatoes, carrots, cantaloupe, apricots, mangoes, red peppers and squash, such as pumpkin and acorn.

According to the Office of Dietary Supplements, people who have a good amount of vitamin C in their bodies are protected against lung cancer. Foods that are rich in vitamin C include potatoes, tomatoes, Brussel sprouts, red and green peppers, kiwifruit, and strawberries, among others.

For more stories concerning how to gain the best of what nutritious foods can offer, visit

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