The human respiratory system includes the nose, throat, lungs and diaphragm. The main functions of the respiratory system are to transport air in the lungs to oxygenate blood and expelling carbon dioxide. It also helps protect the body against harmful particles that are inhaled.
There are many diseases that can affect the respiratory system, including infections such as the common cold, flu, pneumonia, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and lung cancer. People prone to infections or those with lung disease or cancer should be especially mindful of their diet as eating certain foods can have negative effects on lung function and the respiratory system.
Conversely, there are several foods that can have a positive impact on respiratory health. Including these foods in your diet can help keep respiratory disease symptoms at bay and help you live a healthy life.
How to Keep Your Respiratory System Healthy
People who have recently recovered from a respiratory infection or suffered from a lung disease, like pneumonia, should be especially mindful of their diet. Eating certain foods can significantly delay recovery and trigger flair-ups. To maintain or improve the respiratory system’s health, it’s recommended to eliminate these foods from your diet:
- Dairy products: Consuming milk and other dairy products increases the amount of mucus produced in the body, leading to coughing, wheezing and pain in the lungs
- Salty foods: Salt causes fluid retention which may contribute to shortness of breath in patients with respiratory system disease
- Carbonated soft drinks: The carbon dioxide in soda may cause difficulties breathing and exacerbate lung and bronchi disease
- Simple carbs: Foods like bread, pasta and pastries require the lungs to work harder in order to enable your body to metabolize them
- Alcohol: people with poor lung health should avoid different types of alcohol, including beer, as it can significantly increase inflammation in the lungs and make it hard to breathe
Foods That Promote Respiratory System Health
Incorporating these nutrient-rich foods into one’s everyday diet can help ease symptoms of respiratory disease and promote overall health:
- Healthy fats: Olive oil, coconut oil, avocado oil and grass-fed butter
- Proteins: Chicken, salmon, tofu and legumes
- Complex carbs: Whole grains and fruits like apples, berries and bananas
- Fresh vegetables: Leafy greens and other non-starchy vegetables
Other Ways of Maintaining or Improving the Health of Your Respiratory System
Aside from eating a healthy diet, there are a few additional things people can do to maintain or improve the health of their respiratory system:
- Maintain a healthy weight: Excess weight compresses respiratory muscles and puts more stress on your lungs
- Drink plenty of water: Dehydration can cause the mucus lining your airways to become thick and sticky, making you more susceptible to illness
- Limit exposure to allergens, like dust mites, pollen and dander
- Wash hands often and maintain good hygiene to avoid getting sick and spreading viruses and infections
Respiratory Therapy: Helping People with Lung Disease and Other Respiratory Disorders
Did you know there’s an entire profession within the healthcare field dedicated to treating patients who have difficulty breathing?
Respiratory Therapy is a medical specialty that deals with the diagnosis and treatment of disorders of the respiratory system. This includes the lungs, airways and chest wall.
Respiratory therapists work with patients of all ages who have a variety of conditions, including asthma, cystic fibrosis and pneumonia. They may be responsible for the assessment, diagnosis and treatment of patients with breathing disorders. Respiratory therapists may also be responsible for educating patients and their families on how to manage their conditions.
If you’ve been exploring the possibility of a stable and rewarding healthcare career without spending a lot of time and money pursuing medical school, becoming a respiratory therapist may be a great fit for you.
The job outlook for respiratory therapists is good, with the Bureau of Labor Statistics projecting that the number of respiratory therapist jobs will grow by 14 percent from 2021 to 2031. The median salary for respiratory therapists is $61,830.
Become a Respiratory Therapist with a Degree from St. Louis College of Health Careers
If you’re interested in helping people breathe easier, consider a career as a respiratory therapist. RTs work in a variety of settings, including hospitals, long-term care facilities and home health care. To become a respiratory therapist, you’ll need at least an associate degree in Respiratory Therapy.
At SLCHC, our accredited RT program equips you with a strong academic background and hands-on experience to become a competent and highly sought-after respiratory therapist.
To learn more, call 866-529-2070 or send us a message.