5 ways you can prevent COPD

No one wants to lose their ability to breathe. By leading a healthy, energized life, you can significantly reduce the chances of COPD ever affecting you. We'll give you 5 specific pointers.

5 ways you can prevent COPD

1. Follow a Mediterranean diet

  • This approach to eating, with its emphasis on fruits, vegetables, healthy oils, fish, and whole grains, can reduce your risk of COPD by 25 percent. In contrast, following a typical American diet high in refined grains, cured and red meats, desserts, and French fries increases the risk by 31 percent.
  • Other studies find that diets high in starches and sodium also significantly increase the risk of developing COPD.
  • The Mediterranean diet's anti-inflammatory effects may be one reason for its impact on COPD risk.

2. Stop smoking

  • Cigarettes are by far the number one cause of COPD. There are so many arguments for quitting, and this is another big one.
  • If you smoke and are still on the fence about quitting, look at yourself in the mirror. Is your face heavily lined with wrinkles? If yes, then you really need to quit. A study from researchers at the Royal Devon & Exeter National Health Service Foundation Trust found that middle-aged smokers with heavily lined faces were five times more likely to have COPD than smokers with fewer wrinkles. They were also three times as likely to have more severe emphysema than those with less-lined faces.
  • If you still insist on smoking, make sure that you're getting as much exercise as possible. A study from researchers in Barcelona evaluated the chances that 928 smokers would develop COPD over 11 years. Those who got moderate to high levels of physical activity were 21 percent less likely to develop the lung disease than the couch-potato smokers.

3. Become a healthy breather

  • Too many people take lots of small breaths as they go about their business. Rapid breathing also becomes the norm in stressful times. For better lung health, learn to breathe more deeply and less frequently.
  • Inhale through your nose slowly and fully. Your chest and abdomen should move together. If only your chest moves, your breathing is too shallow. Exhaling should take twice as long as inhaling. The more you clear your lungs out with strong exhalations, the healthier and fuller your inhalations will be.
  • While there's no agreed-upon standard, try to reduce the number of breaths you take in a minute to just six. Deep breathing not only improves lung function but can also lower blood pressure and provide relaxation, even in stressful times.

4. Live an active lifestyle

  • Exercise, particularly aerobic exercises like walking, biking, or swimming, help your lungs become more efficient at providing your body with oxygen.
  • Not only do your heart and lungs benefit from more robust breathing, so do all the muscles and connective tissues in and around your lungs.
  • If you get winded easily, it's time to take daily walks and build up your aerobic fitness.

5. Stick to smoke-free bars and restaurants.

  • Even if you don't smoke, being around those who do significantly increases your risk of COPD.
  • Chinese researchers estimated that the equivalent of 40 hours a week of "passive smoking" for five years made people who never smoked nearly 50 percent more likely to develop COPD than those who avoided smoke-filled situations.

COPD is the fifth leading cause of death in the world, so it's important to do everything you can to prevent it. Use these tips to keep your lungs healthy.

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