Keeping Lungs Healthy Can Protect the Brain

A recent Ohio State University study has found that maintaining the health of your lungs has additional benefits in keeping your brain healthy as you get older. The study highlighted a linkage between pulmonary functioning and the brain’s processing speed.

Psychology professor Charles Emery studied sample data from over 800 participants in the Swedish Adoption Twin Study of Aging, which followed those between the ages of 50 and 85. The participants were tracked for 19 years.

Lung function testing was measured — defined by the total volume of air one can expel from the lungs in a second. Vital capacity was almost measured. It was defined as the volume of air exhaled following deep inhalations. Mental performance was then measured in areas like memory, stored knowledge, and processing speed.

Lower pulmonary functioning was found to be correlated with reduced functioning in reasoning and the speed at which correct answers were written. Verbal functioning was also negatively impacted to a lesser degree. It was also found that reduced pulmonary functioning did not lead to memory impairment.

Dr. Emery speculated that reduced pulmonary function was due to less oxygen circulation in the bloodstream, which negatively impacted brain chemicals.

He concluded that anything that promotes lung function will also benefit mental performance. He added that stopping smoking and keeping to an exercise routine are two main techniques for maintaining a healthy pulmonary system.

The American Lung Association concurs with Dr. Emery that maintaining healthy lung function is helpful to overall health. They recommend the following for maintaining lung health:

1. Do not smoke.

Smoking is without question the most harmful thing you can do to your lungs. There is also no safe level at which to smoke; more smoking means more risk of developing diseases like COPD and lung cancer. Stay clear of all types of smoking, including cigars, cigarettes, and pipes. Do your best to avoid second and thirdhand smoke also.

2. Works towards clean air.

Over 150 million Americans live in places with dangerous levels of air pollution. You can help by reducing your share of air pollution by reducing electricity usage and driving less.

3. Improve indoor air quality.

There are usually several sources that contribute to poor indoor air quality, including mold, construction materials, wood burning stoves, pet dander, and some household chemicals.

Doing a google search for “mold removal bergen county” may be helpful for people in this part of the country.

The EPA suggests eliminating indoor pollutions sources, using air purifiers that remove particles, and improving ventilation. You might also have your home tested for radon — a colorless gas that is the second-leading cause of lung cancer among non-smokers.

4. Get more exercise

Improved heart and lung fitness leads to healthier lungs that supply your heart with more oxygenated blood to send to your brain.

5. Eat healthy.

Foods rich in antioxidants are good for your lungs and overall health. Cruciferous vegetables like cauliflower, broccoli, and cabbage help your protect lungs against cancer and other diseases.

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