If you’ve noticed your lungs don’t work like they used to, you’re not alone. Many people suffer significant diminished lung function after the age of 60. But most begin to notice it after age 40. It’s one of the main reasons athletes struggle to perform at the same level as they approach middle age.
Believe it or not, your lung function actually begins to decline long before you notice any shortness of breath or heavier breathing after exercise. Some people notice it in the declining sharpness of their memory. Others notice it in their muscles and joints. They become stiff and tire faster. Their muscles also begin to lose strength. For some this is due to a lack of use. But athletes continue to use their muscles, but they still wear out. A lack of oxygen is one of the reasons. If your lungs don’t pump enough oxygen into your body, you don’t notice it first in your lungs. You notice it in other parts of your body.
While this is considered a normal part of aging, it is possible to slow the progression of lung degeneration. A new study out of the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health in Baltimore, Maryland found that anthocyanins, a type of flavonoid, can help keep lung function optimal for much longer.
Flavonoids, as you may know, are plant chemicals that have powerful antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. Your body uses these chemicals in many ways to protect, repair, and build tissue. And your lungs appear to use them to reduce mucus and inflammatory secretions.
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Unfortunately, the amount of research into flavonoids and lung function is pretty slim. So these researchers “wanted to investigate whether dietary intake and anthocyanins are associated with lung function decline in middle-age adults.”
So they analyzed data from 463 adults (average age: 44) who participated in the second and third European Community Respiratory Health Surveys from 2002 to 2012. These participants completed a dietary questionnaire and underwent spirometry when they first enrolled and after the study. Spirometry is a common lung function test. It evaluates the amount of air that a person can forcefully exhale in one second (FEV1), the total amount of air a person can exhale after taking a deep breath (FVC), and the ratio of the two (FEV1/FVC).
The researchers found that individuals in the highest, compared to the lowest, quartile of anthocyanin intake had a slower rate of decline in all three measurements. What’s more, if you’ve ever smoked, the flavonoids are even more important. The researchers found that among non-smokers and smokers who had quit, the flavonoids helped those who had quit smoking even more than the non-smokers. But they weren’t able to help those who still smoked.
So if you’re aging like the rest of us, protecting your lungs is one of the absolute best steps you can take in maintaining good health for longer. And the best way to do that is to eat plenty of fruits and veggies every day. And to take nutrients, such as those in Advanced Lung Support, that are designed to protect your lungs. Not only will you be able to breathe better, but you’ll also notice the rest of your body function better as well.
Your insider for better health,
Steve Kroening, ND.