This Diet Can Protect You From Lung Disease


A plant-based diet can help protect you from lung disease, according to Dr. Michael Greger, author of How Not to Die in 2016.

His recommendations are of value for the millions of people who have chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), asthma and other lung conditions. (The information below is adapted from Greger’s book.)


The shortness of breath, wheezing, severe coughing and chest tightness associated with COPD bring misery to all afflicted with the disorder and prove fatal to many. However, a nutritious diet may help prevent its onset and worsening.

Although cured meats, such as bacon, sausage and ham, may increase the risk of COPD due to their nitrate preservatives; a high intake of fruits and vegetables is linked to good lung function. In fact, just one extra serving a day of fruit can result in a 24-percent lower risk of death from COPD.

Respiratory Infections

What about respiratory infections like the flu and pneumonia? Plant foods can improve immunity and offer protection from these maladies as well. A 2012 study found elderly people who ate five or more daily servings of fruits and vegetables had a protective antibody response to a pneumonia vaccine that was 82-percent better than those who ate two servings or less per day.


A common inflammatory lung disease that is largely preventable with a healthy diet is asthma. It’s caused by swollen, narrow airways and manifests in recurring attacks of shortness of breath, coughing and wheezing. In research examining the diet of more than 100,000 people in India, those who ate meat either daily or occasionally had a significantly higher likelihood of developing asthma than those whose diet didn’t include meat.

Moreover, an Australian study found limiting asthmatics to just one serving of fruit and two servings of vegetables per day resulted in a worsening of their symptoms, while increasing fruit and vegetable consumption to seven servings per day reduced the disease rates in half. Eliminating dairy and eggs from the diet is also helpful, as it can improve the lung function of asthma sufferers is as little as eight weeks.

The explanation for why plant foods help asthma may lie in the coating of fluid that lines the respiratory tract. Antioxidants in fruits and vegetables support the function of this fluid to protect against free radicals, which play a role in mucus accumulation and asthmatic airway sensitivity.

Smoker’s Lungs

As soon as people stop smoking, the healing process of their lungs starts, and it continues until 15 years later, when their risk of lung cancer approaches that of lifelong nonsmokers. A study shows broccoli can boost the lung health of smokers, as those who ate one stalk of broccoli per day had 41-percent fewer daily mutations of DNA in their bloodstream. Broccoli improves the function of detoxifying enzymes in the liver, which promotes the reduction of carcinogens and the prevention of lung cancer growth. The component of the vegetable that is so beneficial is sulforaphane, a compound also present in other cruciferous vegetables like cabbage, Brussels sprouts and kale.

Daily Dozen

Aside from offering protection from lung disease, plant foods can help prevent other chronic diseases and boost longevity. Greger advocates including the following “Daily Dozen” foods in the diet:

  • Beans
  • Berries
  • Other fruit
  • Cruciferous vegetables
  • Greens
  • Other vegetables
  • Flaxseeds
  • Nuts and seeds
  • Herbs and spices
  • Whole grains
  • Water/tea/coffee
  • Exercise


Mary West is a natural health enthusiast, as she believes this area can profoundly enhance wellness. She is the creator of a natural healing website where she focuses on solutions to health problems that work without side effects. You can visit her site and learn more at Ms. West is also the author of Fight Cancer Through Powerful Natural Strategies.

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