April 10, 2021

How To Keep Your Lungs Healthy

Respiratory health is very important, as the lungs play a major part in protecting the body from airborne bacteria, viruses and other microorganisms. In this article I look at some very simple steps you can make to keep your lungs healthy.

The Function Of The Lungs

Our lungs take in vital oxygen and Ki energy into the body whenwe breathe in and release carbon dioxide and moisture when we breathe out. As well as this, our lungs play a vital role in protecting the body. When we breathe in we breathe in bacteria, viruses, dust and fungi so the lungs have to be very good at keeping these microorganisms and foreign particles at bay.

In addition to this, in the Oriental medicine view our Lung energy forms part of the energy we exchange with others. We can see this with some people we know being very keen to have a conversation, we feel a lot of energy from them when we see them, they want to engage. This tells us something about how healthy their lungs are. With some people it’s the exact opposite, we feel no energy coming out to meet us and engage with us, and this is an indication that there is a weakness or imbalance in their Lung energy.

How Can We Maintain Or Improve Lung Health?

Through food, exercise and emotional work we can readily improve the health of our lungs and help protect ourselves from common health problems and greatly reduce the chances of picking up infections.

Which Foods Are Not Good For The Lungs?

Some foods produce a lot of mucus in the lungs and sinuses and this compromises the healthy function of the lungs. In healthy lungs there is a thin, protective mucous lining that keeps out pathogens and viruses. It’s readily moved by tiny hairs inside the air passages of the lungs to the back of the throat, where it is swallowed and digested in the stomach. his is how the lungs keep themselves clean and healthy. Mucus forming foods clog this delicate system up and make our bodies much more prone to infection and weaken our energy. They also produce excess ear-wax, congested sinuses and smelly skin/body odour.

The most mucus forming foods are dairy products such as milk, cheese, yoghurt and cream. They are naturally concentrated, heavy foods which are high in fats and difficult for the body to deal with. They can really burden the lungs and fill them with excess phlegm. It’s a mystery to me why western medicine does not recognise the reality of mucus forming foods. Within every other type of medicine they are recognised and this has been the case for centuries.

Sugary foods are also mucus forming. They get into the blood very quickly and when the body can’t use this energy then it will produce an excess of watery mucus. Refined carbohydrates are also not great for the lungs – again the foods are absorbed too quickly and can cause congestion.
Too much fruit can also create excess mucus – most fruits are very watery and sweet. Some local fruit is good, but too much unseasonal or tropical fruits again can produce an excess of watery mucus which the lungs then have to deal with. Too much fruit (and fruit juices) are also connected with asthma and hay fever getting worse.

Yin liquids such as regular tea, coffee, fruit juices, alcohol, and soft drinks will weaken the lungs and block the sinuses. Of these, sweet, sugary or fizzy drinks such as coke, diet-coke etc. are very weakening for the lungs.

Which Foods Help To Heal The Lungs?

Generally speaking the lungs prefer slow-release, drier, whole foods. So whole grains, nuts, beans, pulses, lentils, tofu, tempeh and vegetables are great for lung health. Our bodies have evolved to eat unprocessed whole grains and whole vegetables, which are designed to nourish the body more deeply and maintain the delicate balance of the lungs.

When using root vegetables, it’s good to not peel them – as we will be reducing the amount of good minerals available. Scrubbing is a much better idea.

When it comes to desserts, most people love sweet desserts but in macrobiotics we make delicious desserts using whole grains, natural sweetness from temperate climate fruits and small amounts of rice syrup or barley malt syrup. You can have your cake and eat it!

With drinks herbal teas, grain-derived drinks and water are much better for the lungs than caffeinated or surgery drinks.

Exercise Helps To Keep The Lungs Healthy

We need to breathe good air, well. When we are sitting in front of our screens all day this may not be happening. We breathe in Ki or life energy from the air, so fresh air is so much better for us. Stale air that’s been in a room for a while, or is full of people with no ventilation lacks vital energy. We need to open windows, get to the sea or out in a park to renew the energy of our lungs.

Exercise is obviously very important to lung health – aerobic exercise, brisk walking, Tai Chi, Qigong, Yoga are all really strengthening for the lungs. We also need to learn to use our diaphragm when breathing – to increase Ki, lung elasticity, and flow of energy in and around our body.

There’s An Emotional Aspect To Lung Health

On an emotional level our lungs are involved with exchanging energy, feelings and words with others. We need this contact with others, otherwisewe are miss this exchange of energy. Many people are experiencing that although Zoom meetings are very useful, it’s not the same as being with people in person. Meeting people, being close to them and their energy is really important for our health and wellbeing. When we are feeling isolated, alone and cut-off from the outside world, this has an adverse affect on our lungs. When our lungs are healthy we see things much more positively and whatever the challenges we can get things done and see the opportunities life has to offer.

Of course one affects the other – if emotionally we are tending towards feeling closed off to others, disheartened, depressed, not able to let go, then because of how this impacts lung health we can get stuck in a pattern of emotional and physical ill-health. Many things can lift us, such as an improved diet, speaking to someone about our feelings and taking exercise. Doing some aerobic exercise, for example, has been proven to be as effective as medication to treat mild to moderate depression.

Hayfever And Asthma

It’s interesting to look at hayfever in relation to diet and lung health. There’s no more pollen that there always has been, but there has been a huge increase in the number of people suffering from hayfever. So obviously this is not a problem of pollen, it is a problem of human health. The connection is bad diet – with highly processed foods, dairy and sugar consumption weakening the lungs and their ability to make a strong boundary with the outside and keep harmful particles out of the body. The pollen or other allergens then enter the body which feels it is under attack, and responds with inflammation and a typical immune response.

The picture is similar with asthma – now something like 1 in 11 children will develop this condition. Pollution obviously doesn’t help but eating an unhealthy diet is mainly to blame – again weakening the lungs.


The problem with western medicine is that it is unable to tell people how to strengthen their lungs. It leaves many people susceptible to respiratory infections and more likely to pick up whatever colds or flu are around. During the time of Coronavirus this is especially worrying. Others very rarely pick up infections, so why is this? It’s down to our lung health. And this is primarily connected to diet, exercise and emotional health.

To find out more about how to keep your lungs and all of your body healthy check out our free How To Boost Your Immune System Naturally course here.

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