Maintaining healthy lungs, the organ that helps us breathe, should be of utmost importance. Various factors, such as increased air pollution, smoking, and unhealthy eating, can contribute to poor lung health. Once your lungs get damaged, the risk of lung cancer automatically increases. When we talk about lung health, the factor that majorly affects its functioning is smoking (the cause of 87 % of all lung cancer). Quitting smoking is perhaps the most effective way of preventing lung cancer. People who do not smoke can also get lung cancer, which is where simple lifestyle changes and diet can help. Certain foods can even prevent lung cancer naturally for both smokers and nonsmokers. Try to include the following foods in your diet:
1) Cruciferous Vegetables
Sulforaphane present in cruciferous vegetables like Brussels sprouts, kale, radishes, bok choy, cauliflower, cabbage, turnips, watercress, broccoli, etc., is considered a potent cancer fighter. Sulforaphane works by blocking an enzyme that activates carcinogens found in tobacco smoke. These vegetables also contain indole-3-carbinol, which also has anti-cancer properties. It repairs cell damage caused by carcinogens before they turn cancerous. Studies have shown cruciferous vegetables to lower the risk of lung cancer by up to 40 %. So, do not forget to include at least a serving of these nutritious vegetables.
2) Carotenoid-Rich Foods
Vegetables like red and green bell peppers, carrots, sweet potatoes, tomatoes, and green leafy vegetables and fruits like apricots, mangoes, watermelon, guava, and peaches contain carotenoids, which are pigments that act as antioxidants and protect the health of the lungs and other organs. Beta-carotene, a type of carotenoid present in these food items, has been associated with lung cancer protection. Some studies have shown a reduction in cancer rates in smokers with increased consumption of beta carotene. Lycopene, another type of carotenoid, has also demonstrated similar effects against lung cancer.
3) Fatty Fishes
Fatty fishes, which are a good source of omega-3 fatty acids, also prevent lung cancer development. Also, vitamin D (more specifically D3) found in fatty fish like mackerel, salmon, and herring is said to inhibit the growth of lung cancer cells. Fatty fishes also help control heart diseases, high blood pressure, and stroke. Consume fatty fishes at least twice a week to keep your lungs healthy.
4) Foods Rich in Selenium
Selenium is an important mineral, which can be obtained from Brazil buts, whole grains, ham, fish, chicken, turkey, eggs, mushrooms, etc. A recent study showed 200 mcg of selenium, obtained through the diet, significantly lowered lung cancer incidence. It was also found that asthmatic patients with high levels of selenium in blood showed better lung function.
5) Vitamin E and C
Foods that are rich in vitamin E, like walnuts, almonds, sunflower seeds, and other nuts, leafy greens, mangoes, and avocados, have antioxidant properties, which maintain the integrity of lung cells. A study showed a diet rich in Vitamin E lowered the lung cancer risk by 20 % in smokers. Similar effects were seen with oranges and other fruits and vegetables that contain vitamin C and folic acids, such as kiwi, red bell peppers, asparagus, and dried beans.
Apart from including these food items in your diet, reduce the consumption of fats and exercise regularly. Exercising at least 30 minutes a day significantly lowers the risk of all types of cancer.