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The Effects of Nutrition on the Respiratory System

by
author image Valerie Liles
Based in Atlanta, Valerie Liles has been writing about landscape and garden design since 1980. As a registered respiratory therapist, she also has experience in family health, nutrition and pediatric and adult asthma managment. Liles holds a Bachelor of Arts in journalism from Colorado State University and a Master of Science in technical communication from the University of Colorado.
The Effects of Nutrition on the Respiratory System
A man and woman are eating fruit lying on their bed. Photo Credit Don Mason/Blend Images/Getty Images

With every breath you take, your respiratory system is exposed to potentially infectious microorganisms. If your body’s immune system is not up to the task of fighting off these invaders, you quickly find yourself suffering the misery of a sore throat, runny nose, dry or congested cough, fever and chills. You lost the battle against these infectious organisms because your immune system wasn’t up to the task. Nutrition plays a key role in building your immune system so you can render these “bugs” useless against your defenses.

Weight Management

Your weight can make a tremendous difference in how your respiratory system responds to environmental pollutants, as well as bacterial and viral assaults. When you are overweight, more of your body’s energy is used to move, breathe and complete daily tasks. This extra energy should be used in building and maintaining a healthy immune system. Being overweight leaves your body’s defenses at a disadvantage. The U.S. Department of Agriculture's My Plate food guide can guide your chooses in developing a healthy diet that can support not just lung health, but overall well-being.

Fresh Fruits And Vegetables

Recent reports by the American Thoracic Society concluded that eating fresh fruits and vegetables, especially those rich in vitamin C, not only improved overall health, but also reduced the incidence of lung disease. The American Thoracic Society also reports that apples and tomatoes particularly seemed to reduce the incidence of respiratory illness. These fruits also have been shown to increase lung function. Sarah Lewis, Ph.D., of the University of Nottingham, United Kingdom, attributes this to the abundance of antioxidants in fruits and vegetables.

Eating Balanced Diet

The respiratory system is responsible for releasing carbon dioxide from your body and ultimately your lungs. By eating a balanced diet of carbohydrates, fats and proteins, the body is better able to utilize what it needs through digestion and metabolism. When you eat too much of a single nutrient, the body utilizes more energy trying to regain that balance. According to the American Lung Association, carbohydrates produce more carbon dioxide than protein or fat. Therefore, a diet high in carbohydrates puts more stress on the respiratory system by requiring the lungs to release an abundance of carbon dioxide.

Fluid Balance

Your daily water intake has a profound effect on your respiratory health. Two-thirds of your body is water, so when you deprive your body of this, much needed nutrient, your respiratory and circulatory system suffer as well as your body in general. Water keeps the cells plump, which allows water and waste to freely move into and out of the cells. Water also supports waste removal through your digestive and excretory systems, and it allows metabolized nutrients to be more easily transported and assimilated where they are needed.

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