Lung disease kills over 60,000 British people every year, with Lung cancer, COPD and asthma being the biggest killers. A healthy diet can slow the damaging effects of smoking and prevent lung cancer from spreading. Lung cancer and COPD are mostly caused by the effects of smoking but a healthy diet of fruit and vegetables may help to prevent the DNA-damaging effects of tobacco smoke as well as helping to prevent cancer from spreading, slow down the progression of COPD and improve lung function. Tobacco smoke contains chemicals that weaken the body’s immune system, making it more susceptible to disease and handicapping its ability to destroy cancer cells. But the smoke can also damage cell DNA, increasing the chance of cancer cells forming and flourishing in the first place.
WALK YOUR WAY TO A LONGER LIFE:
The government recommends 150 minutes of moderate activity a week or 75 minutes of vigorous activity spread across the week plus exercise to improve muscle strength at least twice a week.
Walking for 150 minutes a week reduces your mortality rate by 7% compared to being sedentary. Walking for 300 minutes a week reduces it by 14% and an hour-long walk each day reduces it by 24%.
THE POWER OF BROCCOLI:
Researchers asked some long-term smokers to eat a single stalk of broccoli a day. It was found that they suffered 41% fewer DNA mutations during the study. Compounds in broccoli also have the potential to suppress the spread of cancer by preventing the cancer cells from grouping-up together.
THE FEAR OF FRYING:
It is thought that a quarter of lung cancer cases may be caused by carcinogens in the fumes when you are frying. When any fat is heated to frying temperature toxic chemicals are released, which can cause genetic mutations. A study of women in China found that smokers who stir-fried meat every day had nearly three times the odds of lung cancer compared with smokers who stir-fried non-meat foods.
The fumes produced by frying bacon contain carcinogens called nitrosamines. Though all meat may release potentially carcinogenic fumes, processed meat such as bacon may be the worst. A study found bacon fumes cause four times more DNA mutations than the fumes from beef burgers fried at similar temperatures. If you must fry, use a barbecue. Studies show that the number of particles deposited into the lungs increases tenfold when frying indoors as opposed to outdoors.
EATING KALE IS AS GOOD AS RUNNING:
Researchers asked men with high cholesterol to take 3 shots of kale juice a day for 3 months and the kale lowered their bad cholesterol (LDL) and boosted their good cholesterol levels (HDL) to the same levels as if they had run 300 miles. It also increased the levels of antioxidants in the subject’s blood. Except in the smoking group as cigarettes create free radicals which counteract this and deplete the body of antioxidants.
MEAT VS VEGETABLES:
One study has found that consumption of cured meat such as bacon, ham, sausage and salami may increase the risk of COPD due to the nitrate preservatives in meat.
In 2010 another study monitored 2 groups; one group kept their normal diet and the other group boosted their fruit and vegetable consumption. Over the next couple of years the first group found that their COPD grew progressively worse whereas the second group found that their disease progression was halted and their lung function had improved. The researchers suggested this could be due to the antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects of the fruit and veg, along with a reduced consumption of meat, which is thought to act as a pro-oxidant.
A study of more than 100,000 adults in India found that those who consumed meat daily, or even occasionally, were more likely to suffer from asthma than those who excluded meat and eggs from their diets altogether. Researchers removed fruits and vegetables from asthma patients’ diets to see what would happen and within two weeks their symptoms worsened. In contrast when they increased fruit and vegetable consumption to seven servings a day the subjects’ exacerbation rate halved.
Researchers in Sweden decided to test out a plant-based diet on a group of 35 severe asthmatics who weren't getting better despite the best medical therapies. Of the 24 patients who stuck with the plant-based diet, 70% improved considerably after four months and 90% improved within a year.
From all the studies being carried out, all the evidence seems to point to the fact that a plant-based diet is immensely good for you, if you have lung conditions such as cancer, COPD and asthma and that potentially reducing meat and egg consumption may also be beneficial to your health and aid in halting disease progression, reducing exacerbations, improving lung function and preventing the spread of cancer.