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Antioxidants to Reduce Respiratory Symptoms

By: Vanessa Vogel Batt L.Ac. MSOM

Antioxidants are a special group of substances that are found in foods or produced in your body. They help defend your cells from free radicals that seek to destroy them. Without antioxidants to act as guards, the harmful molecules build up, leading to cellular damage (oxidative stress).

Lifestyle habits, such as alcohol and tobacco, and environmental air pollution contribute to the degeneration of cells, proteins and DNA. Suddenly the body's aging process is expedited and conditions like heart disease, lung infection, and cancer are more likely to crop up.

In the case of pulmonary oxidant stress, this could result in acute breathing problems, lung infections, inflammation and other symptoms of pulmonary distress.

A diet rich in antioxidants is one way to build up your defenses. Vitamins C and E are powerhouses of nutrition. Upping your intake of these foods is a great start to supporting a healthy respiratory system.

Lucky for you, vitamin C is a water soluble nutrient that is easily absorbed into the body and mobilizes quickly for immediate use--and it's never hard to find. The list of fruits and vegetables containing it is prodigious. If you enjoy fruit, try sampling a variety of citrus fruits, such as oranges, kiwis, lemons, guavas, grapefruit, watermelons, cantaloupe, mango, and pineapple.

As far as vegetables go, your options are just as varied. If you prefer hearty, fibrous, cruciferous veggies, opt for more from the cabbage family. This includes red and green cabbage, cauliflower, Brussel sprouts, bok choy, garden cress and savoy cabbage.

Or, you can try leafy greens like mustard, collard, kale, turnip greens, and spinach. Tomatoes, red peppers, yams and sweet potatoes also provide significant amounts of vitamin C power.

But that power can run out as this nutrient type can't be produced by the body and that which is obtained through food isn't stored for future use. Whatever the body doesn't use gets excreted, so you must replenish.

Vitamin E is a fat-soluble nutrient that sticks with you longer. It can remain stored in fat cells and the liver for a duration of time. While complimentary, this vitamin should not be consumed in large amounts as it can become counter productive.

Use wheat germ oil. Eat salmon, avocado, trout, mango, turnip greens, and kiwis. Munch on a handful of sunflower seeds, almonds, hazelnuts, peanuts, Brazil nuts, and cashew nuts.

Those seeds and nuts you place in your hand, though small, are enough to derive nutritional benefits as each seed or nut is chock full of the antioxidant. Dry roasting them on a hot pan for a minute or two gives them a little extra flavor.

These are just some foods that charge your body with antioxidants. If you want to find more options, you really don't have to go too far. You'll know them by their bright colors and variations.

But there are some darker foods and drinks that contain what we need. Red wine, black tea, dark chocolate, blackberries, cherries and green tea all have an antioxidant called catechins.

With the incredible variety of foods laden with rich antioxidants, enjoying your food while supporting your lung health couldn't be easier.  For assistance in identifying nutrients that will best address your health concerns to a practitioner of acupuncture and Oriental medicine.

Contact an acupuncturist today to schedule an appointment or to learn more about acupuncture and Oriental medicine.

National Institutes of Health. (2018). Vitamin C. NIH Office of Dietary Supplements. Retrieved from

National Institutes of Health. (2018). Vitamin E. NIH Office of Dietary Supplements. Retrieved from

About the Author: Vanessa Vogel Batt, L.Ac., MSTOM, studied at the Pacific College of Oriental Medicine, and practiced acupuncture and Oriental medicine in New York for several years. Vanessa enjoys traveling the world, and has published articles on acupuncture and Oriental medicine and related health topics for websites and publications in both the U.S. and abroad.

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