Lung Health – The Self-help Tip No One is Talking About

Are you pooping regularly? If you’ve been into my clinic, you know I always ask. It’s one of the first things I look to correct if there are issues. Here’s why ….

The relationship between the lungs and large intestines was first recorded in the Huang Di Nei Jing (aka the Yellow Emperor’s Canon of Internal Medicine) and became one of the basic theories of Chinese Medicine. The large intestine depends on the lungs for movement via the expansion and contraction of the diaphragm, which works like a pump to regulate abdominal pressure and move food through the digestive tract. This stimulates the bowels to move and eliminate waste. But, if the lungs are congested and bronchial passages clogged, the bowels don’t work as well. The good news is that lung issues can be helped by purging the bowels.

So, if your lungs don’t function properly, constipation may be the result. Likewise, if you aren’t pooping at least once daily, your lungs can’t function properly and phlegm backs up into the lungs. With COVID-19, the lungs become congested with jello-like phlegm that is difficult to cough out. You can’t breathe normally and getting that diaphragmatic breathing becomes more difficult, making it even more difficult to poop. And guess what, if you aren’t pooping, your lungs can’t get rid of the phlegm and infection that comes along with the disease.

Now is the time to get ahead of the situation and get those bowels moving regularly so if you do get a respiratory illness, your body can get rid of it more easily. If you suffer from chronic constipation and/or are taking medications that stop you up, then you may need to use a fiber supplement, stool softener, or laxative to relax the intestine, get things going and keep them going. Research has shown that relaxing the intestines can be very helpful in treating a number of lung diseases including asthma, bronchitis, pneumonia, pleural effusion, pulmonary heart disease, adult respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS), and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).

If you have chronic or periodic constipation, then look at your diet and remove those things that are typical offenders. Some of those dietary changes might include:

  • Add more fiber – but take it slowly. Add little bits daily until you are getting between 25 and 30 grams of fiber daily. Good fiber sources include:
    • whole grains – be careful here though – make sure you are eating WHOLE grains and not the refined wheat flour products that are predominant at supermarkets. Sprouted grains are usually best.
    • legumes, such as lentils, black beans, kidney beans, soybeans, and chickpeas
    • fruits, such as berries, apples with the skin on, oranges, and pears
    • vegetables, such as carrots, broccoli, green peas, and collard greens
    • nuts, such as almonds, peanuts, and pecans
  • Drink Plenty of Water – You should drink water and other liquids, such as clear soups, to help the fiber work better. This should make your stools softer and easier to pass. Drinking enough water and other liquids is also a good way to avoid dehydration. Staying hydrated is good for your overall health and can help you avoid getting constipated. 8 – 8 oz glasses for most adults is a good start.
  • Avoid these foods – To help prevent or relieve constipation, minimize foods with little to no fiber, such as
    • chips
    • fast food
    • meat
    • prepared foods, such as some frozen meals and snack foods
    • processed foods, such as hot dogs or sandwich meats
  • Come in for acupuncture. I have a pretty good track record for getting my patients back to regularity. 🙂