Your lungs are under constant assault. That’s why COPD is the third leading cause of death according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. About 15 million Americans have it.
COPD is short for chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. It’s a group of lung diseases like emphysema and chronic bronchitis. They constrict your airways. They make breathing difficult and can cause wheezing or coughing.
Most doctors will tell you that smoking is the major culprit. But even if you never smoked you are still at risk of COPD.
You see, our modern world is a big factor. Our air is full of chemicals. Bad air is linked to a long list of health problems including COPD. And it’s not just the air outside…
Even in the comfort of your own home, toxins are swarming in the air. In fact, the EPA says the air in your home is between two and five times more toxic than what you breathe outside.
Don’t expect industrial giants to clean up the air anytime soon. But new research shows a simple way you can fight back against COPD and protect your lungs. Let me explain…
According to a Swedish study, eating more fruits and vegetables reduces your risk of COPD. Researchers followed more than 44,000 men for 14 years. They found that smokers who ate five or more servings of fruit and veggies a day were 40% less likely to develop COPD. That was compared to smokers who ate two servings or less.1
And the more you eat, the better… Each additional serving of fruits and greens cut risk by 8%.
The same was true of ex-smokers. Those eating the most greens were 34% less likely to develop COPD than ex-smokers who ate the least.
Of course, eating fruit and vegetables can only do so much… Even smokers eating five servings of produce a day were still 13.5 times more likely to get COPD compared to non-smokers.
So step one is still to stop smoking. But step two is to include several healthy servings of fruits and veggies in your diet.
You see, fruits and vegetables are full of antioxidants. They protect your lungs from free-radical damage that leads to COPD. At the same time they cut the risk of cardiovascular disease, cancer and Alzheimer’s.
I’ve seen this in my own practice. Many years ago, I had an 88-year-old patient. He was a heavy smoker but he was as healthy as a horse. He never spent a day in the hospital his whole life. I was intrigued. I wanted to know his secret. So I tested his blood and cells.
He had the highest levels of antioxidants I’d ever seen!
The Swedish researchers said apples, pears, leafy greens and peppers lower COPD risk. Those are all good choices but they’re not the best…
To get your antioxidant levels up and protect your lungs against COPD, here are the foods and supplements I recommend to my patients.
1. Broccoli Sprouts. These little sprouts cleanse your body of toxins from smoking and air pollutants. In one study they increased benzene excretion by 61%.2 Benzene is a known carcinogen. It’s in cigarette smoke and emissions from cars, trucks and coal and oil plants.
Broccoli sprouts contain sulforaphane. This compound activates enzymes that take up pollutants and flush them out in the urine. You can also find it in cruciferous vegetables. Kale, cabbage, cauliflower, broccoli and Brussels sprouts have good amounts. But tiny broccoli sprouts have over 100 times more sulforaphane.
Raw broccoli sprouts are great on sandwiches, in wraps or as a salad topping. You can also add some to smoothies.
2. Camu camu (Myrciaria dubia). This amazing wild berry is the most intense source of vitamin C in the world. In a study of smokers in the Journal of Cardiology, camu camu went head to head with ascorbic acid. That’s the most common form of vitamin C in supplements. After just seven days, oxidative stress in the camu camu group dropped significantly. But the ascorbic acid group didn’t improve at all.3
You can find camu camu powder, juice, liquid concentrate and capsules online and in your health food store. I like to add the dried powder to juices, smoothies or yogurt. Or just add it to your drinking water bottle. Start with one teaspoon a day. But don’t get carried away. Diarrhea is a sign you’re overdoing it.
3. Astaxanthin. This is the most powerful antioxidant in the world. Other antioxidants can only handle one free radical at a time. But astaxanthin forms an electron cloud around itself. Free radicals get sucked into the cloud. It neutralizes up to 19 free radicals at one time.
You can get astaxanthin by eating pink sea creatures that feed on algae. Sockeye salmon is by far the richest source. Just make sure it’s wild-caught.
You can also take supplements. I recommend at least 10 mg per day. Take it with a meal with healthy fats like butter, coconut oil or eggs. The fat will help your body absorb the astaxanthin.4
To Your Good Health,
Al Sears, MD, CNS
1. Kaluza J, Larsson SC, Orsini N., et al. “Fruit and vegetable consumption and risk of COPD: a prospective cohort study of men.” Thorax Published Online First: 22 February 2017. doi: 10.1136/thoraxjnl-2015-20785.
2. Egner PA., et al, “Rapid and sustainable detoxication of airborne pollutants by broccoli sprout beverage: results of a randomized clinical trial in china.” Cancer Prev Res (Phila). 2014 Aug;7(8):813-23.
3. Inoue T, K Hiroshi, Uchida T, N Koichi. “Tropical fruit camu-camu (Myrciaria dubia) has anti-oxidative and anti-inflammatory properties.” J Cardiol. 2008;52(2):127-32.
4.Mercke Odeberg J, Lignell A, et al. “Oral bioavailability of the antioxidant astaxanthin in humans is enhanced by incorporation of lipid based formulations.” Eur J Pharm Sci. 2003;19:299-304.